Video Game Enthusiast
In your spare time these days, you're an international spy, a pro race
car driver, a super hero and a BMX trickster. You're conquering thousands
of enemies in a post-apocalyptic world and you're racing down cliffs at top
speed on a mountain bike, pulling back flips along the way.
Clearly, you've discovered the latest generation of video games.
There have been a lot of waves, or generations, of video games over the
past few decades. Shortly after home video game systems first came on the
market in the mid-'70s, classic systems like the Atari 2600 were popular.
In 1985, the Nintendo home video game system appeared, which led to a new
era in graphics and ease of play.
Systems like the original Nintendo video game console were 8-bit machines.
This means it took 8 bits of computer memory to run the game console. When
systems like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were introduced in the early
'90s, they amazed players with their 16-bit technology.
Then along came the Nintendo 64 in 1996, with 64 bits, and a level of
graphic design and play that no one could have imagined two decades earlier.
Sony, with their very popular Playstation, became one of the big players.
And Microsoft's Xbox is very popular today.
That's only a quick history of video game consoles, a history that involves
at least five "generations." A new generation begins when a major technological
advance occurs, such as the jump from 8-bit to 16-bit consoles. Today's games
are fast, engaging and often quite time-consuming.
Like many technologies, video games change quickly. Certain systems get
outdated fast. If you want to keep up, this can be quite an expensive hobby.
Both new systems and new games can come with a hefty price tag.
"Games are expensive," says gamer Vangie Beal. "This irks
me to no end. Obviously the prices of a new game reflect the industry's knowledge
of just how much parents cave in to their kids' requests. The fact that games
clearly intended for young kids carry a $50 - $80 price tag annoys me."
She recommends buying used games or looking in department store bargain
bins for new games to save some bucks. But no matter how you go about it,
this hobby can put a bit of a dent in your wallet.
"Early adopting of new technology is expensive," says Drew Northcott. Northcott
is the president of a video game club at a university. "When systems first
come out is when they're the most expensive." "Prices do drop eventually,"
he continues. "I always think it's a good idea to wait before jumping on a
new system. A Playstation 2 was $500 when it was first put on the market,
but now you can get one for about $150 and a couple games for $30 each."
If you're really interested in video games, there are lots of careers relating
to games. Programmers find many jobs in the industry, but places like video
game magazines and arcades could also be hiring. Many companies need video
game testers to test new games.
Video games can be played alone, but they can also be a very social. However,
there is video game etiquette that must be followed.
"Share the game when in a group," says Northcott. "No one likes a game
hog. Also, try not to be a sore loser or a bad winner when playing. Certain
games can be very competitive, so good sportsmanship is always an important
thing to have."
"It tends to be similar to etiquette in sports," says Duke Ferris. He's
the executive producer of an online video game magazine. "Skill is respected,
as is good teamwork. A certain level of sportsmanship is expected -- although
it is also expected that a certain percentage of people are going to be jerks,
That's another aspect of modern gaming that didn't exist in past generations
of consoles. Through the Internet, people can play against other gamers on
their console. You could play someone you've never met who lives on the other
side of the world! That option wasn't available when poor Mario was first
struggling to save Princess Toadstool on an 8-bit Nintendo system.
When looking for a system, ask some friends and video game store employees
which system might suit you and your needs best. Try to find one that's not
already going out of date, though.
"My advice is to look at the games each system has to offer," says Northcott.
"Whichever one has the most games that you want to play the most is the one
you probably should be looking at. As long as it's within your budget."
You won't need to buy anything besides a television to hook your console
up to. The systems often only come with one controller; if that's the case,
you'll have to buy a second controller for two-player games.
You do need to be cautious about the potential health hazards of playing.
If you have epilepsy and are photosensitive (which means you can have seizures
triggered by flashing lights), there may be a risk of seizures. There are
also other concerns, such as wrist or eye strain and nausea brought on by
the fast-paced graphics.
If you're going to keep up with the current generation of video games and
be on board as soon as the next generation comes around, you'll want to stay
updated. There are several magazines and websites devoted to video games.
Don't be left behind, and have fun!
Entertainment Software Association
Find stats and information about video game usage here
A place for girl gamers to come together
Excellent online resource for game
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