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Information on Video Games

Video game

A video game is a game played using an electronic device with a visual display.

Often "video game" is taken in a narrow sense to mean those games played on consoles for television and similar handhelds. The term "video game" is often not considered to include computer games and coin-operated arcade games, both because historically the games in these three categories were very different, and also because the activity of playing these three types of games is different. See history of the video game for more information.

Video games are made by developers, sometimes individuals, but almost always a team consisting of designers, graphic designers and other artists, programmerss, sound designers, musicians, and other technicians. Most video game console development teams number anywhere from 20 to 50 people, with some teams exceeding 100.

From time to time the term interactive is used to describe a video game. This term is often used by people in the movie and television industry who are not comfortable with the idea that they are involved in making video games. Usage: "We're a movie production company, and we're getting into interactive."

Table of contents
1 Video Game Market
2 Top Video Games
3 Video Game Criticism
4 Genres
5 Notable People
6 See also
7 External links

Video Game Market

Video games are very popular and the market has grown continuously since the end of the video game crash of 1983. The market research company NPD estimated that video game hardware, software, and accessories sold about US$10.3 billion in 2002. This was a 10% increase over the 2001 figure.

The video game market changes over the years as new video game consoles are introduced. This has happened in cycles of about 5 years or so, in which multiple manufacturers release their consoles within about a year of each other, then they and the video game publishers enjoy several years of game sales until technology has improved enough for a new cycle to begin. At that point, games for the old consoles generally enjoy some residual sales, but the video game public as a whole has moved on to the new generation of machines. The current dominant consoles are:

Top Video Games

The ten best selling console video games, according to NPD, ranked by total US units (January 2003 - August 2003) were:

  1. Madden NFL 2004, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2
  2. Pokemon Ruby, by Nintendo, for Game Boy Advance
  3. Zelda: The Wind Waker, by Nintendo, for GameCube
  4. Pokemon Sapphire, by Nintendo, for Game Boy Advance
  5. Enter The Matrix, by Atari, for PlayStation 2
  6. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, by Take Two Interactive, for PlayStation 2
  7. The Getaway, by Sony, for PlayStation 2
  8. NBA Street Vol. 2, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2
  9. The Sims, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2
  10. NCAA Football 2004, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2

The ten best selling console video games, according to NPD, ranked by total US units (annual 2002) were:

  1. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, by Rockstar Games, for PlayStation 2
  2. Grand Theft Auto 3, by Rockstar Games, for PlayStation 2
  3. Madden Football 2003, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2
  4. Super Mario Advance 2, by Nintendo, for Game Boy Advance
  5. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, by Sony, for PlayStation 2
  6. Medal of Honor Frontline, by Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 2
  7. Spider-Man: The Movie, by Activision, for PlayStation 2
  8. Kingdom Hearts, by Squaresoft, for PlayStation 2
  9. Halo, by Microsoft, for XBox
  10. Super Mario Sunshine, by Nintendo, for GameCube

See also 2003 in video gaming, 2002 in video gaming.

Video Game Criticism

From time to time, video games are criticized by some parents' groups, psychologists, politicians, and some restrictive religious organizations for glorifying violence, cruelty, and crime, and exposing this violence to children. It is particularly disturbing to some adults that some video games allow children to act out crimes, and reward them for doing so. Some studies have shown that children who watch violent television shows and play violent video games have a tendency to act more aggressively on the playground, and some people are concerned that this aggression may presage violent behavior when children grow to adulthood. These concerns have led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB rating system in the United States, that are aimed at educating parents about the types of games their children are playing (or are begging to play).

Critics of movies, television, and books as a group look down on video games as an inferior form of entertainment. This is probably because of the accurate observation that most video games have very little plot and even less character development—although there are some wonderful exceptions to the rule. In any case, a frequent counter is that this complaint is like complaining that playing a game of football doesn't have much plot or character development—that though video games include a narrative, they are really about acting in and against the world, and this type of entertainment is not primarily about passively seeing and hearing.

See also: video game controversy, video game proponent


All video games fall into one or more genres. A genre is a category which classifies what kind of content and game play a game is likely to contain. For example, a first-person shooter is likely to contain a great deal of action, will require quick reflexes and may contain graphic violence.

Below is an alphabetized listing of the main genres of video games and some examples of games for each genre. This list is by no means complete or comprehensive. Many of these categories are somewhat overlapping. GTA, for example, is an adventure, a shooter and 2D or 3D depending on version.


Adventure games cast the player as the hero (or heroine) of a story in which the player participates. These games normally require the player to solve various puzzles and find various artifacts. The earliest adventure games were textual, then a hybrid of visual display with textual input, and now rely on "point-n-click".

Adventure games began with Adventure in the 1970s, later developed into the Zork series, and rose to popularity in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s. Notable titles include Day of the Tentacle, the King's Quest series, the Legend of Zelda series, the Monkey Island games, and the Tomb Raider series.


Educational games, as the name implies, attempt to teach the user using the game as a vehicle. Most of these types of games target young user from the ages of about three years to mid-teens (past the mid-teens, subjects become so complex (for example, Calculus) that teaching via a game is impractical).

Notable games in the genre include the Carmen Sandiego series, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, and the Oregon Trail series.

Programming games like Robocode and Core War may also be put in the educational category.


Beat 'em up or fighting games emphasize one-on-one combat between two players, one of whom may be computer controlled. These games usually focus on martial arts, which are usually so dramatic and physically impossible as to be comical. Some of these games may also employ hand-held weapons in addition to or instead of performing combat gymanastics (such as some characters in Mortal Kombat). This genre arose in the mid-1980s and is still somewhat popular today.

Notable series of games include King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter.

First-person shooter

First-person shooters (FPS) emphasize shooting and combat from a specific perspective. Most FPS's place the player behind a gun or other weapon with the player's "hand" holding the weapon. This perpective is meant to give the player the feeling of "being there." Most FPS's are very fast-paced and require quick reflexes. Because of the perspective, these games tend to be very violent.

Recent studies have shown that these types of game actually improve user's reflexes (as in reaction time). The same study showed that little time was needed (as little as a few hours) to see improvements in reaction times.

To be an effective game, an FPS needs to be both fast and 3-dimensional, which put them out of the reach of most consumer hardware until the early 1990s. DOOM was the "breakout" game of the genre; it used a number of clever techniques to make the game fast enough to run on average machines.

See first-person shooter for more detail, and a sampling of games in this genre.


Platformers, also called side-scrollers, view the game area from a side or "cutaway" perspective. In these games, the background or playing area smoothly scrolls as the player moves about, hence the name. These games are traditionally 2D, but some have employed 3D computer graphics effectively. Traditional elements of these games include running, jumping and some fighting. Side-scrollers were some of the first types of video games and are still popular today, usually with younger players.

Notable games and series include Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, Lode Runner, and Sonic the Hedgehog.


Puzzle gamess require the player to solve logic puzzles or even navigate complex locations such as mazes. This genre frequently crosses over with adventure and educational games.

Minesweeper, Q*Bert, and Tetris are probably the best-known games in this genre; see list of computer puzzle games for more.


Racing games are one of the most traditional of genres. They typically place the player in the driver seat of a high performance vehicle and require the player to compete against other drivers or sometimes just time. Emerging in the early 1980s, this genre is still very popular today and continue to push the envelope in terms of graphics and performance.


Rhythm games challenge the player to follow sequences or develop specific rhythms. Some games require the player to tap out rhythms using a game controller or keyboard while others require the player to actually dance in sync to music. This genre arose in the late 1990s with the ever increasing popularity of rap music.

Notable games include Dance Dance Revolution, Space Channel 5, PaRappa the Rapper, and UmJammer Lammy.


Role-playing gamess (RPGs) place the player in a fantasy or science fiction setting. Most of these games are similar to traditional role-playing games played with pencil and paper (such as D&D) except, in this case, the computer takes care of all the record keeping and deterministic elements such as die rolling. Most of these games have the player acting in the role of an "adventurer" who specializes in a certain set of skills (such as combat or casting magic spells). These skill sets are normally called classes and players can normally control one or more of these characters. Since the emergence of affordable home computers coincided with the popularity of pencil and paper role-playing games, this genre was one of the first in video games and continues to be exteremely popular today.

See computer role-playing game for a list.


Recent times have seen the emergence of a new genre called serious games. Serious games are targeted at adults and teach them real-world concepts via games. These games are contracted by large companies (such as Wal-Mart) to supplement their educational budget. For example, a game that teaches a manager how to run a Wal-Mart Supercenter may cost $1 million to develop, as opposed to having all the managers attend seminars that cost $20 million. As with traditional computer games, serious games are designed to be engaging, fun and competetive so that users will be encouraged to continue playing (and therefore learning from) them.

Serious games are too new have had a significant effect on the game industry and, since most are developed specifically for one client, they are not released for retail sale to the general public. However, many large corporations are starting to leverage the educational and financial benefits of serious games over traditional professional training.


Shooters emphasize shooting enemies, whether they be human, alien or insect. These game usually employ a top-down or fixed side perspective. These games have a fixed playing area and the player has limited mobility. Most of these games can be played (though not completed) in a matter of minutes. Some of these games do not even have a formal ending; instead they just get progressively harder. Another of the earliest genres, these types of games have fallen in popularity though they still have a strong hobbyist following.

Space Invaders is the prototypical game of the genre; other notables include Centipede and Missile Command.

Shoot 'em up

Scrolling shooters, also known as "Shoot 'em ups" or "Shmups," emphasize fast-paced shooting or shooting and running. The targets may be intelligent or non-intelligent (as in Asteroids). This genre is somewhat muddled. For example, at what point does a shooter become a shoot 'em up? Another very early genre which has a mixed following today.

The genre may be said to begin with Spacewar in 1962, but Asteroids is probably the most familiar.


Some do not consider simulations to be games at all, but rather "digital toys" or "software toys." Indeed, this is how Will Wright, the designer of the most popular video game of all time, The Sims, describes his games. These games aim to similate a specific activity (such as flying an airplane) as realistically as practically possible, taking into account physics and other real-world limitations. Some require a great deal of reading before the game can even be attempted, while others include a simple tutorial. Some of these types of games, such as flight simulators, have a limited following, while others, such as The Sims have an enormous following, including those who don't consider themselves "gamers."

Flight simulators are their own well-developed subgenre of simulation, as are wargames. Games such as The Sims, SimCity, SimAnt, and SimEarth are combination of simulation and strategy.


Sports games emulate the playing of traditional physical sports such as Baseball, Soccer, American football, Boxing, Golf, Basketball, Ice hockey, Tennis, Bowling, Rugby, etc. Some emphasize actually playing the sport, while others emphasize the strategy behind the sport (such as Championship Manager). Others satarize the sport for comic effect (such as Arch Rivals). This genre emerged early in the history of video games and remains popular today and is extremely competitive, just like real-world sports.


Strategy games focus on careful planning and skillful resource management in order to achieve victory. Classified as "thinking games," these products are targeted at teens and a more mature audience. Most of these games are turn-based as opposed to realtime, but there are some that are realtime or mix the two types of play (such as X-Com). This genre has had a consistent following since the mid-1980s.

The two main subgenres are turn-based and real-time games. Turn-based games were originally the common form of strategy game, the computers of the time being too slow for real-time interaction, and go back to Star Trek games played on teletypes. Early home computers were soon adopted for wargames, and the genre expanded from there.

Survival Horror

Survival Horror games focus on fear and attempt to scare the player via traditional horror elements such as undead, death, blood and gore. Many of these games include first-person shooter elements.

Third Person Shooters

Third Person Shooters (TPS) employ a specific perspective for the player. This is normally just behind the game character, but it is sometimes an isometric perspective. Many of these games are classified in other genres as well (such as Tomb Raider).


Most popular board games, card games, and the like have been computerized to some degree or another. For example, more than 600 freeware board games are available written in Zillions. Computer game programs can be worthy opponents and can help you improve your skill at traditional games.

Notable People

See also

External links

Video game publisher

Video game publishers are companies that publish video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer. Most video game publishers also produce and publish computer games, but the term "video game publisher" is often used generically to refer to companies that publish interactive games despite the platform used to play them.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Business Risks
3 Investor interest
4 Selected Video Game Publishers
5 Other video game publishers
6 Notable former video game publishers


As with book publishers, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising. They usually finance the game development, sometimes by paying a video game developer (the publisher calls this external development) and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio. The large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish. Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any license that the game may utilize; paying for localization; layout, printing, and possibly the writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design. Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all internal and external development teams by providing services such as sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality.

Because the publisher usually finances development, the publisher usually tries to manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers to monitor the progress of the developer, and assist as necessary. Most video games created by an external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on royalties. These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain stages of development, called milestones.

Business Risks

As businesses go, video game publishing is risky:

  • The Christmas selling season accounts for about half of the industry's yearly sales of video and computer games, leading to a concentrated glut of high-quality competition every year in every game category, all in the fourth quarter of the year.

  • Product slippage is very common due to the uncertain schedules of software development. Every publisher has suffered a "false launch", in which the development staff assures the company that game development will be completed by date x, and a marketing launch is planned around that date, including advertising commitments, and then after all the advertising is paid for, the development staff announces that the game will actually be ready by date x plus four months. When the game finally appears, the effects among consumers of the marketing launch—excitement and "buzz" over the release of the game and an intent to purchase—have dissipated, and lackluster interest leads to weak sales. These problems are compounded if the game is supposed to ship for the Christmas selling season, but actually slips into the subsequent year.

  • There is a consensus in the industry that it has increasingly become more "hit driven" over the past decade, with masses of consumers buying the game that is best in quality and best-marketed in each game genre, and, by comparison, very few buying any other games in that genre. This has led to much larger game development budgets, as every game publisher tries to ensure that its game is #1 in its category.

  • When publishing for game consoles, game publishers take on the burden of a great deal of inventory risk. All significant console manufacturers since Nintendo with its NES (1985) have required all publishers to pay a royalty for every game manufactured to run on their console. This royalty must be paid at the time of manufacturing, as opposed to royalty payments in almost all other industries, where royalties are paid upon actual sales of the product—and, importantly, are not payable for games that did not sell to a consumer. So, if a game publisher orders one million copies of its game, but half of them do not sell, the publisher has already paid the full console manufacturer royalty on one million copies of the game, and has to eat that cost.

Investor interest

Video game publishers who are publicly traded on stock markets are not known as a successful group. Interest from investors varies with time. At present, Electronic Arts is the only third-party publisher present in the S&P 500 diversified list of large U.S. corporations. Interest from outside investors was high during two notable periods:

  • In the early 1990s when the introduction of CD-ROM computer drives caused a great deal of hype about a multimedia revolution that would bring interactive entertainment to the masses. All Hollywood movie studios formed "interactive" divisions to leverage their intellectual property in film in this booming new media. Most of these divisions later folded after expensively producing several games that were heavy in "full-motion video" content, but light in the quality of gameplay.

  • In the dot-com days of the late 1990s when technology companies in general were surrounded by hype, and when statistics were first published noting that in the United States, revenue from the sales of video and computer games had for the first time exceeded revenue from film box-office receipts. Notably, however, video game publishers did not experience the fleeting skyrocketing of stock prices that many dot-com companies saw, probably because video game publishing was seen as a more mature industry whose prospects were fairly well understood, as opposed to the typical exciting dot-com business model with unknown, possibly sky-high prospects.

Selected Video Game Publishers

The top 20 video and computer game publishers, ranked by Game Developer Magazine in September 2003 in order of estimated game sales revenue:

  1. Electronic Arts
  2. Sony Computer Entertainment (console manufacturer)
  3. Nintendo (console manufacturer)
  4. Activision
  5. Vivendi Universal Games (including Universal Interactive, Sierra Entertainment, and Blizzard)
  6. Take Two Interactive
  7. Atari (formerly Infogrames)
  8. Konami
  9. Microsoft (console manufacturer)
  10. Sega (former console manufacturer)
  11. Square Enix
  12. Ubisoft
  13. THQ
  14. Capcom
  15. Bandai
  16. Namco
  17. Acclaim
  18. Koei
  19. Eidos Interactive
  20. Midway Games

Other video game publishers

Notable former video game publishers

Some of these publishers went out of business; others were purchased or merged with a larger company, and no longer do business under this name, or they exist in name only as a brand.

See also: video game, video game developer, game designer, game programmer, console manufacturer

Video game console

A video game console is a dedicated electronic device designed to play video games. Often the output device is a separate television. Once, video game consoles were easily distinguishable from personal computers: consoles used a standard television for display, and did not support standard PC accessories such as keyboards or modems. However, as consoles have become more powerful, the distinction has blurred: some consoles can have full Linux operating systems running with hard drives and keyboards, and Microsoft's Xbox is basically a stripped down PC running a version of Microsoft Windows.

The console market has steadily developed from simple one-off games (Pong) to fully featured general purpose games systems.

Older game consoles and their software now live on in emulators as they are no longer supported by their manufacturers; however, console makers try to prevent legitimate console and software buyers from playing games on emulators, using a special mask work copyright and a special copyright on encrypted media created by the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act and foreign counterparts, especially for the newer game consoles. The emulation of ancient video game consoles, such as the NES and SNES have gradually settled down.

Note that the "bit" names of generations were in large part created by the console makers' marketing departments and may have little to do with the actual architecture of the systems.

See Also: Nintendo, SEGA, Sony, Microsoft, Atari

Table of contents
1 List of game consoles

List of game consoles

This includes stand-alone game consoles, see also hand held consoles for portable devices with integrated displays.

Future systems

  • Sony PlayStation 3 (Sony has plans to release such a system around 2005)
  • Nintendo GameCube 2 (Nintendo plans to release such a system around 2005. The official name may or may not be 'GameCube 2'.)
  • Microsoft Xbox 2 (Microsoft has plans to release such a gaming system in the future. Xbox 2 is not the official name for it; it has been rumored that the name will be Xbox Next)

Sixth generation

Fifth generation

Fourth generation

Third "8-bit" generation

Second "8-bit" generation

This generation was followed by a collapse in the video game market in North America (1984).

First generation of "8-bit" programmable systems

Dedicated (non-programmable) video game consoles

Consoles of this era were often inaccurately called "analog" but actually used discrete logic.

The First commercial home video game ever

The Odyssey - discrete logic

Consoles that never made it

Video game controversy

Video game controversy is any criticism or moral panic involving video games or computer games. Computer games and video games have been the subject of frequent controversy, often involving religious figures, parents' groups, or politicians, especially in 2002. The video game controversy outside the video game community usually originates from religious discourses, assemblies, and publications, political speeches and publications, and the news media. It usually comes from Silent and Baby Boomer generations in the United States. The video game Death Race was probably the first video game to inspire a video game controversy.

Table of contents
1 Criticism of violence and crime in video games
2 Criticism of sexuality in video games
3 Criticism related to children's social development
4 Criticism from religious organizations
5 Typical criticism within the industry
6 Controversial Videogames
7 Timeline

Criticism of violence and crime in video games

Video and computer games are periodically criticized in the media by some parents' groups, psychologists, religious organizations, or politicians for the level of violence, cruelty, and crime that some games allow players to act out. Examples are trivial to find, including Mortal Kombat and its sequels, a series of fighting games by Midway Games which since 1992 has rewarded players for beating up an opponent with martial arts moves, and then for executing a "Fatality" move, a particularly gruesome killing of the defeated character, in which the head and spine of the victim is ripped out of his body, the victim is beheaded with blood gouting out of his neck stump, and so forth. Another frequently-cited violent game is the extremely popular Grand Theft Auto 3 ("GTA 3") by Rockstar Games, in which the principal game activity is carjacking, and once a car is stolen, the player is rewarded for running over pedestrians and shooting rival gang members to death as he runs missions for crime bosses. It is sometimes claimed in the media that in GTA 3, players have to steal a car, pick up a prostitute, have (implied) sex with the prostitute, then kill her and steal her money. All of this is indeed possible in the game, but the player is not actually required to do so.

Critics of video game violence generally agree that violent video games are at least as bad an influence on children as are television shows with the same level of violence and cruelty, and most seem to believe that video games are more threatening to a child's well-being, because the video game player uses the controller to make his on-screen persona act out the violence personally. It was widely reported that the killers in the Columbine High School massacre were fans of first-person shooter games, and had recorded a videotape before the massacre in which they said they looked forward to using their shotguns just as in the game DOOM. One former West Point psychology professor, seen to be interviewed several times after school shootings in the United States, has repeatedly used the term "murder simulator" to describe first-person shooter games. He argues that video game publishers unethically train children in the use of weapons and, more importantly, harden them emotionally to the task of murder by simulating the killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents in a single typical video game.

Defenders of video games in this respect, and video game publishers, state that video games are harmless entertainment, similar to the previous generation's childhood "violent" play of "Cops and Robbers", and that playing video games does not cause acts of violence, but indeed may be a cathartic way of expressing frustration or anger without harming any people. They say that video games are sometimes singled out unfairly from other forms of entertainment that show violence, such as movies, television shows, and even the news, which suffuse the culture, and that even if exposure to violence in the media were proven to cause more violent behavior, then video games should be subject to no more restriction or scrutiny than movies, television shows, or the news. They note that millions of children and adults enjoy video games every day, and the vast majority of them do not become criminals; and that no correlation has ever been shown between the rise of video game popularity and crime statistics. They also note that using a video game controller's or a mouse's buttons to shoot an opponent on a screen is a far different experience than shooting a man with a gun in the real world, and that it seems far fetched to believe that this would harden one to killing, or qualify as a "murder simulator".

Data on the effect of video game violence is scant. To date, some studies have shown that correlate children's exposure to violent video games and violent television shows with increased aggression on the playground, but studies have not focused on video games alone.

United States

In the United States, the ESRB ratings system was established in 1994 as the video game equivalent to the MPAA film rating system. The ESRB was created as an industry response to criticism from politicians, notably Senator Joe Lieberman, over the easy availability of violent video games such as Mortal Kombat to children, and over the resulting alleged corruption of public morality. At the time, some politicians who lent their voice to this cause threatened legislation relating to video game violence. Nearly all video games are now rated with ESRB ratings, which are primarily intended to inform parents about the content of the games that their children have purchased (or want to purchase). Some important retail chains, such as Wal-Mart, have a policy to check the identification of young purchasers of games rated "Mature" to ensure that the purchaser is at least 17 years old, as recommended by the "Mature" rating. Senator Lieberman stated in 2002 that in his opinion, the video game industry's rating system had become the best rating system of any medium, including the film industry.

Interestingly, video game violence was not an issue of public concern until the technology improved and characters started to appear more photographic in quality. There were video games before Mortal Kombat that had high levels of violence -- for example, The Bilestoad for the Apple II computer featured a top-down view of two knights in combat with battle axes, with pools of blood forming on the ground and limbs regularly amputated -- but the game looked like an animated cartoon and not at all photorealistic. This may imply that most people are not actually concerned about children acting out violence as long as it looks fake.

From time to time, local officials attempt to restrict the playing or selling of violent video games. Predictably, video game publishers always oppose this, and retailers usually do as well. For example, the city of Indianapolis, Indiana in 2000 passed an ordinance barring minors from playing arcade games with graphic violence unless parental consent was given. It was generally thought that this law was intended to target the game The House of the Dead, in which players use plastic guns to shoot at the game screen in order to mow down hundreds or thousands of zombies that have returned from the dead and try to kill the player. The ordinance was struck down at the appellate Federal court level, on the grounds that in the United States, video games enjoy some measure of First Amendment free speech protection because they contain real expression of ideas, and children have constitutional rights before the age of 18, and given this, the city did not demonstrate an overriding public interest in passing the ban.

Germany and Korea

In Germany, video games, as with other media, are subject to censorship, or "decency standards", that are strict by the standars of other European nations. For video games there is the index, also known as the "banned" list, which is a list of video games considered immoral. Games showing the killing of humans with blood or severed body parts involved, or in general showing cruelty to humans, are placed on the index, at which point it becomes illegal to advertise the games, display them on store shelves, or sell them to anyone under 18. This of course dramatically impacts sales, so most video game companies selling games into Germany elect to create a special German version that narrowly avoids the index by changing the graphics. Instead of red blood coming out of a wound, green blood is shown, implying that aliens are being killed and not humans; or gears and springs are shown coming out of the wound, implying that the victims are robots.

It is not clear how many German video game players skirt the intention of the index by purchasing their games from other countries, by mail order or by taking a shopping trip.

Video game violence is similarly controversial in South Korea, and similar "no blood" regulations apply.

Criticism of sexuality in video games

Video game publishers have not explored sexuality in video games to nearly the degree seen in movies, books, or even television shows. Almost no video games display nudity. Sexual themes are seen sometimes in role-playing games, but are rare elsewhere. This lack of history, and perhaps a perception that video games are a children's pastime, are probably the reasons why any graphic sexual content is shocking to some people.

Custer's Revenge was a game for the Atari 2600 released under the brand "Swedish Erotica" that featured a naked General Custer advancing across the screen, dodging arrows, until he could mount a naked Native American woman who was apparently tied to a pole or cactus. The game was controversial for its racism as well as its sexuality, and in television coverage in the United States, when game animation was shown, parts of the screen were concealed with black rectangles in order to avoid showing nudity. This seems unnecessary from today's standpoint, because the graphics on the Atari 2600 were very crude and blocky, and one video game critic has described the naked woman as resembling "a hot dog made of Legos".

Sierra's Leisure Suit Larry computer games were popular tongue-in-cheek adventure games for adults in which the protagonist constantly attempted, usually without success, to convince women to have sex with him. The games did not excite much controversy despite showing partial nudity with increasing graphical quality over the years.

Eidos's Tomb Raider series of games were action-adventure games which featured a woman protagonist named Lara Croft with improbably large breasts. The game series did not explore sexual themes at all, but Lara Croft was featured in video game magazines as a sex symbol of sorts, and it is generally believed that the success of the game series over the years was due to the prominence of her breasts in the game's advertising and packaging.

Acclaim released a bicycle motocross game called BMX XXX in 2002 which included a topless woman as the game character riding a bicycle, and rewarded players with video footage of topless strippers. It is generally believed in the industry that the game was of low quality -- its average review was about 55% in an industry where a 70% score is considered poor -- and that Acclaim decided late in the game's development to attempt to stir a controversy and hopefully prop up sales by including some nudity. The attempt at publicity was rather successful, with television reports that Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and a few other major retail chains in the United States declined to carry the game in their stores due to the nudity. Consequently, sales were poor: under 100,000 copies were sold. The game was not greeted with controversy or with much sales interest in Europe.

Industry response to controversies over sexuality is generally in the form of indignation that video games are singled out where movies, books, and television shows are not. Retailers have sold "R"-rated movies showing nudity for the past several decades without any moral problem in doing so, and the moral problem they claim to have over video games with nudity is therefore hypocritical.

Criticism related to children's social development

Some psychologists and parents' groups have criticized video games because they believe they cause children to sit alone in the television room for many hours in a row, interacting with a machine rather than running and playing outside as they exercise and improve their social skills by playing with other children. This sounds like the same effect that television shows have on many children, but some claim that video games are more addictive to children and therefore more likely to isolate them socially in this way. Some studies have claimed that there is a correlation between depression and playing computer games.

A typical industry response is that video games can enhance children's social interaction because many video games are multiplayer games, where two or four players can have fun competing on the same television screen, and that if a child is isolated and antisocial, this is not the fault of video games, but perhaps of the child's inborn disposition, or perhaps of the parents' lack of attention to making sure their child has enough opportunities for social interaction with other children. Presumably, parents who allow their children to play video games too much would also allow them to watch too much television for their own good.

Criticism from religious organizations

Much of the criticism of video games from outside the video game community originates from religious sources. Some Christian denominations, usually Restorationist such as Jehovah's Witnesses (with December 22, 2002, issue of Awake!) and Seventh Day Adventists, and some fundamentalist denominations, based on the teachings of religious artist Jack Chick and preacher Al Menconi, impose lifelong restriction and scrutiny on video games, especially through the belief that parents should impose or inculcate their religious beliefs onto their children. Some video game proponents call these religious denominations mind controlling and enslaving cults and enemies of the video game community, and they consider video game criticism from religious organizations an offense to the video game community. They usually oppose religious criticism and restriction on video games. The criticisms originating from religious sources are aimed at violence, crime, sexuality, nudity, human castration, rebelliousness, materialism, occultism, and references to Christianity. Many of those who criticise Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are religious figures.

The Japanese video game and anime industry have been playing with Christianity. Many Japanese-origin video games and animes, such as Xenogears and Princess Mononoke contain references to Christianity. References to Christianity in video games have done a long time since the NES era. Religious content has been censored in many U.S. releases of Japanese-origin video games.

Because of all that religious criticism and its disappointment from video game players, religion has been a critical issue to the video game community, whether one's religion despises or restricts video games or is referenced in a video game.

Typical criticism within the industry

Within the video game industry, there is not much self-criticism about excessive sexuality or violence, as it is known that video games are not exclusively for the consumption of children, and hence it is generally believed that video game publishers have as much right to explore adult-oriented, mature themes as do movie studios or book publisherss. Some developers and publishers find some of this type of content distasteful and do not produce it, but in general there is not much agitation to set limits on adult content for the industry as a whole, beyond the presence of the ESRB rating system, which has come to be viewed by most people as a good move for the industry. There is some criticism over the use of violence in games as a crutch for creativity; it is alleged that if a developer cannot invent an original, fun activity for the player, he'll end up giving the player the time-honored task of shooting a monster.

Most criticism of video games from within the video game community usually has to do with game quality: linear story structure without much plot, lack of originality, lack of character development, unrealistic aspects of graphics or game play, or simply not being fun to play.

Other criticisms include an apparent lack of games that appeal to women and girls, and a strong and increasing tendency of video game publishers to avoid risks, and only fund games which are practically guaranteed success prior to the expenditure of any development dollars. In particular, there has been an increase in:

  • Sequels to, prequels to, and enhanced remakes of previously successful games
  • Games which use a licensed intellectual property from some other medium, often movies, comic books, television shows, or books
  • Games whose game play is more or less copied directly from previously published games that were successful. It is generally agreed that in the early days of video games there seemed to be an explosion of creativity with genuinely new types of game play appearing in some new game every month, and now a new type of game play is seen only a couple of times per year.

Controversial Videogames

  • BMX XXX (for nudity in the game and in video clips) (banned in Australia)
  • Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball (DOA:XBV) (for ogling bikini-clad women and sexual themes)
  • DOOM series (for violence)
  • Duke Nukem 3D (for violence, sexuality and nudity)
  • Ethnic Cleansing (for neo-nazi propaganda, racism and crimes against humanity)
  • Grand Theft Auto III (for violence, crime, and sexual themes) (banned in Australia)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (for violence, crime, and sexual themes)
  • House of the Dead (for graphic violence)
  • Manhunt (for graphic violence) (banned in New Zealand)
  • Mortal Kombat series (for graphic violence)
  • Postal (for violence, banned in many countries)
  • Resident Evil series (for graphic violence)
  • Tomb Raider series (for violence and large body parts)


  • 1978, Death Race, an arcade game inspired a video game controversy
  • 1993, Mortal Kombat, an Arcade and console game, inspired a video game controversy, having Senator Joseph Lieberman speak out.
  • 1994, the establishment of the ESRB
  • 1999, the Columbine massacre inspired a video game moral panic
  • 2002, Grand Theft Auto III, a PS2 and PC game inspired an ongoing video game controversy; banned in Australia.
  • August 2003, Entertainment Software Association battles against governmental regulation of video games.
  • December 2003, Manhunt, a PS2 game, gets banned in New Zealand.

See also: Entertainment Software Ratings Board, media controversy, school massacre, moral panic

Video game crash of 1983

The video game crash of 1983 refers to the sudden bankruptcy of a number of companies marketing home computers and video game consoles in late 1983. The term "shakeout" would be a more accurate description of what happened, but because of its sudden and unexpected nature the term "crash" has stuck.

The crash has been attributed to a weak economy, poor quality of games (particularly the Atari 2600 versions of Pac-Man and E.T), and to very aggressive marketing of inexpensive home computers such as the Commodore VIC-20, Atari 800XL, Commodore 64, Tandy Color Computer and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A; the crash was probably caused by a combination of the three factors.

Up until the early 1980s, personal computers had primarily been sold in specialty computer stores and at a cost of more than US$1,000. The early 1980s saw the introduction of inexpensive computers that could connect to a television set and offered color graphics and sound. Since they generally had more memory available than a console, they permitted more sophisticated games and could also be used for tasks such as word processing and home accounting.

Commodore International went so far as to target video game consoles in its advertising, offer trade-ins towards the purchase of a Commodore 64, and unlike most other computer manufacturers, it also sold the machines in the same department: discount, department and toy stores that sold video game consoles.

Commodore's vertical integration allowed it to engage in some predatory pricing; its margins were much higher than that of Texas Instruments, Coleco and Atari, and, making matters worse, Commodore's MOS Technologies subsidiary actually manufactured many of the chips used in Atari computers and video game machines. The situation was similar to the calculator market in the early 1970s, when companies found themselves buying chips from Texas Instruments but having to compete with TI's calculators.

The result was a massive shakeout of the industry. Mattel, Magnavox, and Coleco all abandoned the video game business. Computer sales were also affected, as the Coleco Adam, TI-99/4A, and the line of Timex-Sinclair computers were withdrawn from the U.S. market, along with a number of other smaller players. Atari nearly went bankrupt and was sold off by its parent company Warner Communications (now part of AOL-Time Warner).

The longest-lasting result of the crash was the shift of dominance in the home console market from the United States to Japan. When the video game market recovered in 1985, the leading player was Nintendo's NES, with a resurgent Atari battling Sega, also of Japan, for the #2 spot. Atari never truly recovered, and eventually exited the hardware business in 1996. It wouldn't be until Microsoft entered the arena with the X-Box nearly 10 years later that the United States would have another contender in the console market.

Ironically, 1983 is by some considered a peak time in the history of arcade games, the home video game consoles' bigger stand-alone brethren located in diners, malls, and, yes, arcades. For example, the first real-time 3D arcade game was created that year (called I, Robot).

See also: timeline of video games

Video game developer

A Video game developer is a software developer that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game system, such as the Sony PlayStation, or may develop for a variety of systems including PCss. Some also specialize in certain types of games, such as RPGss or FPSss. Some focus on converting games from one system to another. Some focus on translating games from one language to another, especially from Japanese to English.

Alongside the three key consumer markets in Asia, the United States and Europe are thousands of games developers. From the long established likes of Nintendo and Bullfrog are many newer startups and break-aways such as Lionhead.

Table of contents
1 Types of Developers
2 List of Developers

Types of Developers

Video game developers fall into one of three categories: third-party developers, in-house developers, and independents.

Third-party developers are usually called upon by a video game publisher to develop a title for one or more systems. Both the publisher and the developer have a great deal of say as to the design and content of the game. In general, though, the publisher's wishes trump the developer's. It is not uncommon for a developer to have several teams working on different titles for different publishers. In general, however, third-party developers tend to be smaller and comprised of a single, closely-knit team. Third-party game development is a volatile business as small developers may be entirely dependent on money from one publisher. Hence, one cancelled game can be lethal to a small developer. Because of this, many of the smaller development companies last only a few years or sometimes only a few months.

Many video game publishers also have large in-house development teams, or in-house developers. The size of the teams vary depending on the games, but they can number from a few to the dozens. In the case of MMORPG's, they can number in the hundreds. In-house development teams tend to have greater freedom as to design and content of a game than do third-party developers. Also publishers tend to more forgiving of their own development teams going over budget and missing deadlines than of third-party developers.

Independents are typically small software developers that self-publish their games, often relying on the Internet and word of mouth for publicity. Without the huge marketing budgets of mainstream publishers, their products never get as much recognition or popular acclaim as those of larger publishers. However, they are free to explore experimental themes and styles of gameplay that mainstream publishers would not risk their money on.

List of Developers

Some of the more notable game development companies:




Blizzard Entertainment
Bethesda Softworks
Bungie Studios




DMA Design


Eidos Interactive
Electronic Arts


Firaxis Games


Gearbox Software


Hasbro Interactive


id Software
Intelligent Systems




Llamasoft (Jeff Minter)


Midway Games


Neuron Entertainment






Revolution Software
Ritual Entertainment


Silicon Knights
Sierra Entertainment
Sony Computer Entertainment
Square Enix


Taito Corporation
Team 17
Timegate Studios




Valve Software
Vision Park


Westwood Studios
Wangame Studios

See also: Video game, Video game publisher

Video game industry

The video game industry is the economic sector involved with the design, development, marketing and sale of video and computer games. It encompasses dozens of job disciplines and employs thousands of people worldwide.

Once a niche market and considered by some as a curiosity in the mid-1970s, its economic impact is now greater than that of Hollywood blockbusters.

The modern computing world owes most modern computing innovations to the game industry. The following computing elements owe their lineage and development to the game industry:

  • Sound cards: developed for addition of high-quality sound to games
  • Graphics cards: for high-speed, high-color game graphics
  • 3D graphic accelerators: developed for high-quality 3d game graphics
  • UNIX: developed so the programmers could play a space traveling game

In addition, most of the highest powered personal computers are purchased by gamers who want the fastest equipment to power the latest cutting-edge games. Modern games are some of the most demanding on PC resources, so the latest hardware is often targetted at this sector likely to purchase and make use of the latest features. Thus, the intertia of CPU development is due in large part to this industry whose applications demand faster processors which traditional applications don't require.


The game industry employs those experienced in other traditional businesses, but some have experience tailored to the game industry. For example, many recruiters target just game industry professionals. Some of the disciplines specific to the game industry include:

Most of these professionals are employed by video game developers or video game publishers. However, many hobbyists also produce computer games and sell them commercially.


The emergence of the video game indsutry can be traced to Pong in 1971—the first widely available video game. From this point, the video and computer game industry formed into a hobby culture in the late 1970s when personal computers just began to become widely available. The industry grew along with the advancement of computing technology, and often drove that advancement. Today, the video game industry is a juggernaut of development, profit and still drives technological advancement which is then leveraged by other industry sectors. Though maturing, the video game industry is still very volatile, with third-party video game developers quickly cropping up and, just as quickly, going out of business.

See also: History of the video game, video game controversy

This page created and maintained by Jamie Sanderson.
© Jamie Sanderson 1999-2005.