This essay will be based upon the video games industry, describing and accounting for the key changes in both, the participation and the provision in a global context.
The first wave of home video games was launched nearly 30 years ago. By the early 1980s, this electronic entertainment medium had emerged as a cultural phenomenon, thanks to classics such as Asteroids, Centipede, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man. The world of video games has, of course, changed drastically since then. For starters, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are now the key players in the console industry, having replaced Atari, Coleco, and Mattel for those top spots. Advances in technology are making game worlds more realistic and interactive than ever before. The result is a new breed of fresh and exciting game genres that people in the early 1980s could only dream about.
Video games is a huge industry and it is estimated that 70% of U.S homes will own a Video game system by the year 2005 (Cassandra, 2002). The idea of making a video game first appeared in 1949 when a young engineer named Ralph Baer was given an assignment to build the absolute, best of all televisions. He wanted to go beyond his original assignment and incorporate some kind of game into the set but it would take another 20 years for his idea to become a reality.
Video games were first introduced in the 1970s, first by Willy Higinbotham, who designed an interactive tennis game played on an oscilloscope, and Steve Russell, who programmed a rudimentary space game on a DEC PDP-1 mainframe computer. By the end of the decade, they had become a preferred childhood leisure activity. The first computer games experienced by the public world have been in Arcades. These are rooms filled with bright lights and strange noises that emanate from the large machines. Arcades first started springing up in the 1970’s. By the late 1970’s/early 1980’s the world had its first batch of dedicated games consoles. Kids were hooked on games in the arcades and wanted to bring the experience into the household. Nowadays, video games are a big market and throughout the past few years, the industry has boomed into a very large business where big companies like Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft are fighting to be the best. Because there are so many games for these systems and because it is such a big business, stores specialising in only these games are opening everywhere. The big competition between these companies accounts for the rapid development of computer games in the past few years. Since they keep bringing out new games, they get better and better. Just when it seems that the graphics cannot get any better, the companies will make a new machine which can handle better games.
Although new and better systems are coming out all the time, they must stay competitively priced. Already, the systems are expensive with the main consoles retailing for about £150 in the United States with games costing an additional £30 each. In Japan, the country where these systems are produced, the video game market is even bigger. In that country, the same systems cost around £300 with separate games for around £60. Customers in Japan and the US are lucky because the systems are manufactured in both countries. In countries where they aren’t manufactured, the people there have to import and that further increases the price of the systems. In Europe, a console costs between £200 and £300 with additional games being purchased for £50 each.