On August 29th every year, computer game lovers celebrate World Video Game Day, also known as Gamer’s Day. A celebration that has been repeated every year since 2008, when the specialist magazines PC Manía, PlayManía and Hobby Consoles decided to dedicate this date to one of the most popular hobbies among young and non-young people today.
But reaching the current generalization of this type of entertainment took years of development, with the development of computing playing a fundamental role. This is the only way to explain how we went from playing Pac Man (known in Spain as “comecocos”) and jigging pieces in the lovable and addictive Tetris game, to hunting for Pokemon in real places of our cities through augmented reality.
Video games appear as applications of a playful nature, developed since the 1950s by computer programmers. Since it could not be less in rational and mathematical minds, the first attempts gave shape to chess programs, with which scientists, in addition to killing time, developed the syntax of new computer languages.
A step forward was taken in the late 1950s by a physicist named Willy Higinbotham. In an effort to make a thematic exhibition in a US government laboratory more entertaining, he created a simple game played on a black and white TV that simulates a game of tennis.
These primitive attempts were limited to laboratories and scientists, and still did not comply with a basic rule of what we know today as a video game: its widespread use anywhere and anytime. We had to wait for the ’70s to find the earliest precedents.
From laboratories to recreation halls
In 1972, Nolan Bushnell patented the first interactive game in history, Pong, and created Atari, which is still active today. What is new is that for the first time video games are leaving laboratories and being installed in entertainment devices located in public places. In exchange for just a few coins, anyone can access a fun experience that in those years was a novelty that left players amazed.
Since then, the evolution of video games has been unstoppable. If the first step is to leave laboratories to be fitted into entertainment machines, they will soon reach personal computers and living rooms, and from there to cell phones. An unstoppable path whose only limits are technology and programmers’ imagination.
Million dollar business
But in addition to technological development, another mainstay of video game success is the economy. According to Newzoo, in 2021 the video game business generated nearly $160,000 million worldwide. The report records a total of 3000 million players, 55% of whom are from the Asia Pacific region.
The study points to the promotion of games in the “cloud”, the emergence of entertainment applications on smartphones and the expansion of new markets as drivers of this growth. The report also notes that the results of 2021 exceeded the results of 2020, the year in which video game consumption doubled, due to confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Video game as a cultural element
The video game, along with its technological and economic components, plays an important role as a cultural component. For the millions of people around the world who consume them, video games are not an exclusive part of their spare time. They condition their social relationships and daily activities, creating communities that transcend geographical boundaries.
Far from judging whether the penetration of video games into the psyche of users has positive or negative effects, it must be recognized that their discontinuation has come in parallel with other social changes. Which means that video games are more than just a disruptive agent, they are another facet of the unstoppable transformation of the world today.
For all these reasons, if you are an irreducible gamer and navigate the digital world like a fish in water, we wish you a nice day to play and enjoy your favorite hobby. On the other hand, if you have is the real world and your tastes are more traditional, it is better to wait for the day dedicated to your hobby, it is surely there and written in red on the calendar.
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