National Video Games Day is celebrated every year on September 12th.
Whether you’re an avid gamer, nostalgic for the games you used to play, or are an admirer from afar, this is the perfect occasion to reflect on our favorite games and how far we’ve come through the years.
Though it’s not a national holiday (as much as we’d like it to be), it’s a nice moment to reflect on the history and future of video games and maybe make a moment to play some of your favorites.
National Video Games Day
The origins of National Video Games Day are actually quite unclear, and the fact that it’s celebrated on September 12th is in itself controversial. That being said, the Video Game History Foundation did some digging and traced back the first mentions of the day to the early 1990s.
National Video Games Day is about celebrating video games — the innovation they represent, their history, and their cultural impact, whatever that means to you.
History of video games
In honor of National Video Games Day, let’s take a brief look at the history of video games:
In the early days, video games were reserved for academic contexts. The earliest video game was created in 1952 by a British professor and was called OXO, a version of noughts and crosses. After that, Steve Russell of MIT created a game called Spacewar! in 1962.
Video games as we know them started to gain traction in 1967 with the development of ‘The Brown Box,’ which facilitated multi-player games on television. This was later commercialized as a console called ‘Odyssey’ in 1972. Atari then joined the market in 1977 when it released the Atari VCS which included the ability to change up what game you played with different game cartridges.
The world-famous Nintendo joined the game in 1985 with the Nintendo Entertainment System, followed in 1989 by the Game Boy and the hugely-popular game Tetris.
The modern era of gaming has been defined by HD quality and powerful consoles such as the Xbox and Playstation, and more latterly by the rise of apps and what History.com calls a ‘casual gaming audience.’ Now with the rise of live-streaming, gaming has created an immense global community.
The video game industry now
As we’ve seen, the video game industry has seen immense change since the middle of the 20th Century. Previously an individual pastime, gaming has become as much an activity as a spectator sport. One thing hasn’t changed, though, games still provide entertainment for adults and children alike.
And as technology develops at a huge speed, it’s likely to keep on changing rapidly. Game development is now a serious industry and requires substantial investment — something that was completely unthinkable in the early days. As a result, big players in the tech industry such as Meta and Apple are investigating ways to enter (and disrupt) the market, with a serious emphasis on VR — hence, the metaverse.
According to Investopedia, there are now 2 billion gamers around the world (an incredible 26% of the world population). Matching the demand, the gaming industry pulled in $155 billion in revenue in 2020, which is projected to rise to $260 billion by 2025.
How to celebrate National Video Games Day
You don’t need to celebrate National Video Games Day, but why not? Here are just a couple of suggestions for how you can mark the occasion:
Make some time to game
We’re all busy, but try and carve out some time to sit down and play your favorite game. That could mean a game on your phone, computer or console — whatever floats your boat.
Play some nostalgic video games
If you want to go one step further, why not venture down memory lane and play a game that reminds you of your childhood? Not all of us are lucky enough to own an original Gameboy or NES, but if you do, why not break it out and have a play? Alternatively, use National Video Games Day as an excuse to trawl the internet and buy one for yourself.
Upgrade your gaming setup
National Video Games Day is also a great excuse to update your gaming setup. If you’ve been eyeing up a new piece of kit for a while, why not mark the occasion by taking the plunge?
Watch a video game stream
If you’ve got some downtime but don’t really feel like gaming yourself, why not tune into a live stream and watch your favorite gamers (or friends) play?