Start Date
Place
Notes
Source
1958
US
American physicist Willy Higinbotham creates
the Tennis for Two game on an oscilloscope.
http://vidgame.info/ Mar 2012
1958
US
Physicist Willy Higinbotham invents the first "video
game" at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in
Upton, New York. His game, a table tennis-like
game, was played on an oscilloscope.and the
projected imagery covered the abstract
geometries of the interior of the building. This
overwhelming sensory and intellectual experience
left many visitors confused; nonetheless, Varèse's
work stands as a significant example of spatial
composition in 20th-century music.
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gamestimelin
e1.html November 2010
1960
US
During the 1960s, other programmers developed
similar games, including Lunar Landing,a space-
flight simulation; Hammurabi, a text-based
strategy game involving planting crops and
levying taxes and ADVENT, short for adventure,
an interactive narrative that allowed players to
explore a virtual environment using rudimentary
textual commands like 'go north' or 'use key.'
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 197
1961
US
At Harvard university's Littauer Statistical
Laboratory, a group of students and assistants
begin writing a Spacewar game on the newly
installed PDP-1 computer.
http://vidgame.info/ Mar 2012
1961
US
Steve Russell, a student at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT), creates Spacewar,
the first interactive computer game. It runs on a
Digital PDP-1 mainframe computer, and the
graphics are made up of ASCII text characters.
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gamestimelin
e1.html November 2010
1962
US
The first video game is developed by grad
student Steve Russell at MIT.
http://www.warbaby.com/FG_test/Timeline.ht
ml
1972
US
Pong, one of the first mass-produced video
games, has become the rage; Americans who've
never set foot on a court struggle to master
television tennis. Noland Bushnell, the 28 year-
old inventor of Pong, will go on to found Atari.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA99/grogan/thes
is/Timeline2.html January 2007
1975
US
Gunfight, the first "computer" game is released. It
is the first game to use a microprocessor instead
of hardwired solid-state circuits.
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gamestimelin
e1.html November 2010
1976
US
Nolan Bushnell sells Atari to Warner
Communications for $28 million. Bushnell
remains with Atari as chairman of the board.
http://www.gamespot.com January 2007
1977
US
Inspired by the game Adventure, Dave Lebling,
Marc Blank, Tim Anderson, and Bruce Daniels, a
group of students at M.I.T., wrote a game called
Zork in the summer of 1977 for the PDP-10
minicomputer which became quite popular on the
ARPANET. A version called DUNGEN was later
developed in the FORTRAN language by a
programmer at DEC, and ported to many
different machines.
http://www.livinginternet.com/d/di_major.htm
November 2010
1978
Japan
Space Invaders was released in Japan, ushering
in a new phase of arcade video-game popularity.
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 197
1978
UK
The first MUD, an adventure game with multiple
players, was invented by Roy Trubshaw and
Richard Bartle at Essex University in England in
1978.
http://www.livinginternet.com/d/di_major.htm
November 2010
1986
International
Nintendo outsells its competitors 10 to 1 in the
United States. In Japan it unveils a disk drive
peripheral for the Famicom, along with The
Legend of Zelda and golf and soccer games.
http://www.gamespot.com January 2007
1988
International
One of the first adventure MUD's was
AberMUDnamed after the university where it was
written, University of Wales at Aberystwyth. In
1988, AberMUD and related versions spread on
the Usenet newsgroups and started being used
in North America, after which their use spread
rapidly among research and academic
organizations.
http://www.livinginternet.com/d/di_major.htm
November 2010
1988
US
MUDs (multi-user dungeons or dimensions) are
software programs that allow multiple users to
interact with each other. Representing an
important step in MUD program development,
TInyMUD was developed in 1988, then a student
at Carengoie-Mellon University. TIny MUD ran on
the UNIX operating system and the growing use
of that OS especially in university computer-
science departments, contributed to TInyMUD's
rapid rise in popularity.
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 439
1989
Japan
Nintendo racks up an annual profit of $1 billion.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
1989
US
NEC brings the PC-Engine to America and calls
it the TurboGrafx-16 ($189). NEC also releases a
$400 portable CD player that attaches to the
TurbroGrafx-16 and plays games that are, for the
first time, stored on compact discs.
http://www.gamespot.com January 2007
1989
US
NEC releases the TurboExpress ($299.95), a
handheld TurboGrafx-16 with a separately sold
TV tuner. This is the first time a portable game
machine can play a dedicated console's games.
http://www.gamespot.com January 2007
1994
US
The Entertainment Software Rating Board
(ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that
applies and enforces ratings, advertising
guidelines, and online privacy principles for
computer and video games and other
entertainment software in the United States and
Canada (officially adopted by individual
provinces 2004-2005). The Interactive Digital
Software Association (now the Entertainment
Software Association) established the ESRB in
1994. By early 2003, it had rated over 8,000 titles
submitted by 350 publishers. Many believe that
the ESRB may promote media restriction, while
others think that it is necessary for software to
have content ratings. The decision to found the
ESRB was influenced by the graphic "fatality"
killing moves of Mortal Kombat and other
controversial video games depicting violent or
sexual situations at the time, and by pressure
from the United States government. (Wikipedia
August 2006) The Entertainment Software Rating
Board (ESRB) is established to rate video
games. Large letter icons appear on game
boxes to let consumers know the recommended
age of players for each game and whether the
game is violent or risqué.
http://www.gamespot.com January 2007
1996
International
The concept of a MOO was introduced by Pavel
Curtis in 1996 extending the concept of a
configurable MUD with a built-in object-oriented
language.
http://www.livinginternet.com/d/di_major.htm
November 2010
1996
US
Most Popular Video Games (U.S.). A small-scale
study found the most popular categories of video
games were: fantasy violence, with 32 per cent of
players preferring such games; sports (29 per
cent), general entertainment (20 per cent), human
violence (17 per cent), and educational (2 per
cent). Source: Interactive Video Games, from
Mediascope, June 1996
http://www.media-awerness.ca August 2006
23 Jun 1996
Japan
The Nintendo 64 games console was launched in
Japan. It sold 1.3m units by the end of the year-as
many as Sony's PlayStation sold in the whole of
1995.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk October 2006
1999
Japan
As the year progresses, Sega announces that
the Katana will be released in Japan in
November. Although the US won't get the new
system until 1999, Sega of America begins
making plans to spend $100 million to launch it.
By midyear, Sega announces another name
change--this time the system becomes the
Dreamcast. With all the hype in place, the
Dreamcast finally goes on sale in Japan on
November 27. The initial 150,000 systems that
are offered for sale are sold immediately, along
with 132,000 copies of Virtua Fighter 3.
http://www.gamespot.com October 2006
1999
US
The ESRB maintains that it is a completely
autonomous entity from the games industry, yet it
receives its nonprofit funding in part from the
electronic game trade organization, the IDSA,
and in part from the game makers, who pay
between $100 and $500 to have their games
rated. ESRB raters don't even play the games
they rate; they merely watch a video clip provided
by the gaming company.
Nasibitt, High Tech, P. 104
1999
US
Video Game Habits (U.S.): These figures are
based on the responses to a survey conducted
by the National Institute on Media and the Family
and the University of Oklahoma. The survey was
administered to 137 teens in grades 8-11 in a
large suburban school district near a large
Midwestern city. Eighty-four per cent of teens
overall play video/electronic games. Ninety-two
per cent of boys play games. Ninety per cent of
teens say their parents "never" check the ratings
before allowing them to rent or buy video games.
Eight per cent say their parents "rarely" check the
rating. Only one per cent of teens said their
parents had ever kept them from getting a game
because of its rating. Thirty-two per cent of boys
who play video games download them from the
Internet. Eighty-nine per cent of teens (91 per
cent of boys) say that their parents "never" put
limits on how much time they may spend playing
video games. The average teen likes a moderate
amount of violence in their video games (roughly
5 on a scale of 1 to 10). Among boys only, the
average teen likes a fair amount of violence (7 on
a scale of 1 to 10). Source: Media Family
"Whoever Tells the Stories Defines the Culture",
Dr. David Walsh.
http://www.media-awareness.ca August
2006
2000
International
All three gaming consoles released in 2000-
2001(Sony's Playstation 2, Microsoft's X-Box,
and Sega's Dreamcast) have some level of
Internet connectivity.
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 199
2000
Japan
Sony launches the PlayStation 2 in Japan on
March 4. In two days, the company sells 1 million
consoles--a new record. As is the case with all
Japanese launches, gamers begin lining up
outside stores two days in advance. Unfortunately,
demand exceeds supply and not everybody gets
a console, including those who pre-ordered.
Robberies of PlayStation 2s are reported.
http://www.gamespot.com October 2006
2001
International
Game Studies is a cross-disciplinary journal
dedicated to games research, web-published 3-
4 times a year at www.gamestudies.org. It began
publication in July 2001.
http://gamestudies.org/1001 November 2010
2001
US
Americans spent more on electronic games than
on movie tickets.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2008
19 Apr 2002
US
U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr.
ruled that video games do not convey ideas and
thus enjoy no constitutional protection. As
evidence, Saint Louis County presented the
judge with videotaped excerpts from four games,
all within a narrow range of genres, and all the
subject of previous controversy. Overturning a
similar decision in Indianapolis, Federal Court of
Appeals Judge Richard Posner noted: "Violence
has always been and remains a central interest
of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive
theme of culture both high and low. It engages the
interest of children from an early age, as anyone
familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by
Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware."
http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/
impact/myths.html November 2010
2004
Switzerland
A new study adds to the evidence that sedentary
behaviors are linked to childhood obesity and
sheds light on the world-wide dimension of the
problem. In a study published in the June issue of
the journal Obesity Research researchers from
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the
University Hospital Zurich present a strong
association between playing electronic video
games and childhood obesity in school-aged
Swiss children. The researchers also found that
obesity was associated with television watching,
paternal smoking and mother's working outside
the home.
http://www.healthcentral.com/drdean/408/608
91.htmNovember 2004
2004
US
Annual 2004 U.S. retail sales of video games,
which includes portable and console hardware,
software and accessories, reached more than
$9.9 billion - a decline of less than one percent
when compared to $10 billion in the previous
year.
http://www.about.com January 2007
2004
US
Survey: U.S. women spent more online game
time than men or teens.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
Jan 2004
China
A young computer gamer named Li Hongchen
wins the country's first virtual properties dispute
case: the Beijing Chaoyang District People's
Court orders Arctic Ice Technology Development
Company, the maker of the game 'Hongyue' (Red
Moon), to return game winnings, including virtual
biochemical weapons, to Li, who protested after
the items were stolen by a hacker. In the same
month, the state-owned news agency reports that
a new online game is introduced every ten days
in China.
http://www.danwei.org/internet/china_media_
timeline_danwei_wo.php January 2007
2005
US
More evidence surfaced that Hollywood and the
computer/video games industry were moving
closer together. Steven Spielberg, a gamer
himself, agreed to develop (and be executive
producer) three original games for Electronic
Arts (Los Angeles branch). Computer games
already were showing comparable income to the
movie industry, i.e., the game Halo 2 for the Xbox
console system sold 2.4 million units in its first 24
hours of sales and made $125 million in gross
receipts - in addition, Microsoft was in
negotiations with Universal and Fox to turn the
game into a movie. In comparison, the all-time
record for a film's opening weekend to that point
belonged to Spider-Man 2 (2004), which grossed
almost $116 million (in July, 2004). Close behind
were Shrek 2 (2004) that earned $108 million
during its opening weekend (in May, 2004), and
Pixar's The Incredibles which drew a $70.5
million gross in its opening weekend (in
November, 2004).
http://www.filmsite.org October 2006
01 Sep 2005
Europe
Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld
gaming device was launched in Europe after
three delays from the release date. In the first
three days it sold 185,000 in the UK.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk February 2008
13 Sep 2005
UK
Nintendo's latest version of the Game Boy
handheld gaming device, GB Micro, went on sale
in Europe. UK sales in the first week amounted to
148,000 units.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2008
2006
US
The maker of Grand Theft Auto has escaped
financial penalties in a dispute with the U.S.
Federal Trade Commission over sexual content
in its video game. Take-Two Interactive Software
and the FTC announced a deal on Thursday,
ending more than a year of legal wrangling over
the game. The federal regulator has ordered
Take-Two, owner of Rockstar Games, to create
packaging that displays content relevant to the
game's rating. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
had earned an M (for Mature) rating, until a
hacker uncovered a secret file inside the game
that featured nudity and graphic sex scenes. That
kind of content should have earned the game
Adults Only rating. A file circulating on the Internet
made it possible for young players to access the
content. The video game maker will have to file
compliance reports on future products with the
FTC and faces fines of $11,000 US for each
future violation. However Take-Two did not have
to pay any fines for the sexual content, which it
may have known about. The highly popular game
sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Parent
groups and politicians such as Hillary Clinton had
lambasted the company over its lack of ethics
and recommended a stricter rating system. Take-
Two had to reissue the game and create a patch
to remove the offending material.
http://www.cbc.ca 9 June 2006
2006
US
Video games are reaching new consumer
groups and have become an important
entertainment and educational part of the lives of
preschoolers, or children between the ages of
two and six. Rideout and Hamel (2006) report
that as many as 291f children under 6 in the
United States have played console video games,
and 18 0x1.561e40p-803ve played hand-held ones.
http://gamestudies.org/1001/articles/bryant_
akerman_drell November 2010
2007
US
A.M.A. [American Medical Association] decides
it's not ready to call excessive video game play
an "addiction."
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2008
2009
Central Asia
Beth Kolka and Cynthia Putnam at University of
Washington published a report based on study of
video gaming in Central Asia. In the abstract, it
states video gaming is popular in Central Asia,
that it is important to study non-instrumental use
of ICT, including computer games. Specifically,
the article presents the results of qualitative and
quantitative work spanning eight years of
investigation in Central Asia focused on
computer gaming in public Internet cafes as well
as private spaces. The results presented
demonstrate that people do indeed play games
in resource constrained environments. The paper
demonstrates that games constitute a significant
portion of the ICT ecology in developing regions
and provide a pathway to people's "first touch" of
a computer, that gamers have more frequent
interaction with technology than basic Internet
users, that games bring more diverse users to
computers by providing a pathway to ICT use for
people with lower levels of education, and that
games can motivate innovation in the technology
space. Additionally, our findings indicate that
both genders engage in game playing. The
article makes the case that games can be a
source of informal learning about ICT, and as
such, games and gaming culture in the
developing world merit further study.
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?
id=1812536 November 2010
2009
US
Eighty-two percent of all games sold in 2009
were rated "E" for Everyone, "T" for Teen, or
"E10+" for Everyone 10+.
http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp
November 2010
2009
US
U.S. computer and video game software sales
generated $10.5 billion in 2009.
http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp
November 2010
2010
Briefly, spatial presence is often defined as
existing when "media contents are perceived as
'real' in the sense that media users experience a
sensation of being spatially located in the
mediated environment." The idea is just that a
game (or any other media from books to movies)
creates spatial presence when the user starts to
feel like he is "there" in the world that the game
creates. People who experience immersion tend
to only consider choices that make sense in the
context of the imaginary world. Someone
immersed in Red Dead Redemption, for
example, might be more likely to use travel
methods that make sense within the game, like
stagecoaches, instead of methods that don't, like
fast traveling from a menu screen. People
immersed in media also tend to enjoy it more
http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07
/27/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-
games/ November 2010
2010
US
In 2010 26 percent of Americans over the age of
50 play video games, an increase from nine
percent in 1999.
http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp
November 2010
18 May 2010
US
NEW YORK – Talk about strange bedfellows.
The American Heart Association and Nintendo
Co. are teaming up to promote the popular Wii
video game console as the health advocacy
group concedes that its campaign for traditional
exercise isn't working.
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/191191/heart-
group-backs-video-games-in-obesity-
campaign November 2010
2011
International
By 2011, the worldwide gaming market will be
worth $48.9 billion at a compound annual growth
rate of 9.1 percent during the five-year period,
with gains slowing every year because of the
maturation of the current generation of consoles,
according to the report.
http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investin
g/Extra/
VideoGameSalesOvertakingMusic.aspx
August 2010
27 Jun 2011
US
A California law banning the sale or rental of
violent video games to children has been
rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling
upholds decisions by lower courts that
determined the ban violates the U.S. First
Amendment right to freedom of expression and
is therefore unconstitutional. In doing so, it
confirms that video games have the same
protection under the First Amendment as books
and movies.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/201
1/06/27/video-games-violence.html June
2011
Videogames Timeline
Created with Timeline Maker Professional. Produced on 19 Apr 2012.