A game is a structured type of interactive play, most often undertaken for fun or entertainment, and at times used as an educational tool as well. Games are very different from work, that is typically carried out for profit, and from literature, that is often more of an expression of philosophical or aesthetic elements. When we talk about educational games, the main objective is to provide children with a thorough grounding in the various disciplines and areas of knowledge through the medium of video games. The wide variety of game titles available today makes it almost impossible for a child to become acquainted with all the available learning tools; some titles require significant prior knowledge and understanding of different subjects.
Video and computer games, especially those developed for children, have grown significantly in popularity during the past few years. It seems that the younger generation, who became associated with video games by their school age, considers them to be quite a valid form of entertainment. Some may argue against this belief on the grounds that the younger generation nowadays spends a considerable amount of time glued to televisions and computer consoles, which are usually accompanied by long sessions of playing console games, instead of spending real time learning and practicing their respective sports, arts, counting, spelling, geography, and so on. However, studies conducted in recent years have shown that young people spend an inordinate amount of time playing electronic games, which includes not only video and arcade consoles, but also computer games developed for both the PC and the game console.
In the late eighteen hundreds, an American businessman by the name of George Bushnell purchased what was believed to be the first coin-operated arcade machine. He built this machine in his basement and called it the Astral Arcade. This machine featured two buttons, one for “action” and one for “time”. Bushnell placed a coin in both of the buttons and, using a mechanism in the cabinet that rotated the levers back and forth, was able to pull a lever each time he pushed the button for “action” and push a lever for “time” when he pulled out the coin. His claims that he had invented the first spin-less coin-operated machine are currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
Bushnell’s success with his coin-operated arcade console paved the way for other developers to attempt to reproduce his success, most notably Sam Haine and John Waite. Both these men’s arcade consoles were considered to be far superior to Bushnells, even going so far as to claim that they offered more pure virtual gaming experience than that offered by the coin-operated machines of the time. In fact, when Bushnell died in 2005, the respected arcade gaming expert and critic Joe Quirk proclaimed that, “If I had to choose between the original Zenobia [Nintendo video game] and the Bushnell arcade game, I’d choose the Zenobia every time.”
The computer game market has changed dramatically since the early days of computer games when game systems such as the Atari began to dominate the market. Today, PC, PlayStation and Xbox games are far more popular than their Atari and Nintendo home console counterparts. As a result of this, arcade game players must change their strategy when considering which type of game to play. Although Nintendo’s Wii offers some unique gaming options, it is quickly losing to its competitors.
Arcade game players should keep this basic rule in mind: if it is popular, then it likely is worth playing. However, it is equally important to remember that just because something is popular, does not mean that it is the best available game for you. You may enjoy playing a game that is not quite as popular but has an excellent quality of play or you may hate it and never play again.