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Waka, waka, waka. Thank you, Mario! FINISH HIM!

Over the past 50+ years, the video game has taken its place in culture and has even become the nucleus around which its own virtual subculture has formed. The sights and sounds of video games can produce a distinct sense of nostalgia in some, or an exciting sense of adventure for others.

Whether looking toward the past or the future, National Video Game Day provides an opportunity for anyone and everyone who loves video games to celebrate this day!

History of National Video Game Day

In 1958, a ping-pong-like game, called Tennis for Two. Created by William Higinbotham, the game debuted on a large analog computer at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a research institute in New York.

By the 1970s, the Odyssey and Atari video game home consoles went on the market with new technology like joysticks and multi-cartridge games. The 1980s brought about even more interesting video games, such as Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros, Tetris and SimCity, most of which continue to be successful franchises even today.

While video games went through a bit of a slump in the mid eighties, and several home computer and video game console companies even went bankrupt during that time, the industry would bounce back stronger than ever.

The advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System by an almost 100 year old Japanese game company prevented the making of cheap, poorly made games by imposing regulations on third-party games. This rebuilt the integrity of the video game industry.

Just a few years later, in 1989, Nintendo introduced its handheld devices. Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS continued to revolutionize the video game industry into the early 2000s.

By the early 1990s, Video Game Day started making an appearance. The first recorded celebration seems to have been in 1991 and could have been sponsored by a man named David Earle, who was the president of Kid Vid Warriors in the early 1990s.

Another viable story is that the origins of National Video Game Day may have come from an employee of the Video Game History Foundation. This is a non-profit organization that has dedicated itself to the preservation, celebration and teaching about the unique history of video games.

But no matter exactly how it began, National Video Game Day has certainly made its way into the hearts and lives of video game lovers all over the world!

National Video Game Day Timeline

1958

First video game is created 

Created by physicist William Higinbotham, a very simple tennis video game is popular at an open house of the Brookhaven National Laboratory.[1]

1972

First Home Video Game System is sold 

From a prototype multi-player, multi-program video game created by Ralph Baer, the Odyssey is sold as the first home console video game.[2]

1977

Atari 2600 is released 

Known as the Video Computer System, Atari’s console features joysticks and interchangeable cartridges for multicolored games.

1981

Donkey Kong is released 

Japanese company, Nintendo, releases this game featuring an ape who will eventually be the beginning of a franchise.[3]

1989

Nintendo’s Game Boy is released 

After a slump in the video game industry, Nintendo makes a comeback with the Gameboy that becomes a dominator in the market.[4]

How to Celebrate National Video Game Day

Getting in the groove for National Video Game day can be loads of fun! It’s easy to come up with fun ideas for celebrating, like these:

Enjoy Playing Some Video Games

Those with game systems in their homes might join into a multiplayer game, like Call of Duty or Animal Crossing. But some people might be a bit old school and feel more comfortable playing something that is a puzzle game, like Tetris or Pac-Man.

Whether jumping in on one of the newest, most popular games online or whipping out that classic Gameboy version of Pokemon, this is the time to engage in playing video games – completely guilt free!

Throw a National Video Game Day Party

Start making a guest list of friends, family or coworkers who love video games and would appreciate a gathering of other video game lovers. Remind guests to dress up as their favorite video game characters, like the Mario Bros or SimCity inhabitants. Serve video-game themed food, like Pac-Man cookies, a Minecraft cake, or a veggie tray in the shape of the Pokeball. 

Obviously, the entertainment for the evening would be to hook up a couple of different game systems and let guests take turns. They could even bring their own classic, hand held video games to share with other guests. Depending on how organized you want to be, perhaps it would be fun to add a challenge bracket so the winner has bragging rights at the end of the party.

Learn Fun Trivia About Video Games

One super simple way to celebrate is to learn a few fun facts and bits of trivia that will make for a delightful topic of conversation with coworkers or friends on National Video Game Day. Get started with some of these:

  • The Atari ET video game is widely assumed to be the worst video game in existence. Released in 1982 in conjunction with the release of the blockbuster film of the same name, this game was so bad that over 700,000 of the cartridges were buried in a landfill in New Mexico.

  • Super Mario Bros was the first video game that was adapted to become a film. And Tom Hanks wanted the role of Mario–but didn’t get it!

  • The first video game to ever be included as a cereal box prize was Chex Quest, based on the Doom game engine in 1996.

Watch Video-Game Inspired Music Videos

Musicians and band members can be huge fans of video games too! Some of them are so inspired that they have made the music videos for their songs in the style of video games.

National Video Game Day is a great time to view some of these music videos inspired by favorite video games:

  • Move Your Feet by Junior Senior (2002). This little nod to pixelated video games was created by the Danish pop rock group.
  • Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers (2000). Nominated for video of the year at the MTV VMAs, this music video reveals the band’s avatars as they play their way through the song.
  • Frontline by Kelea (2018). This R&B style musician keeps her intimate, personal style while revealing this video inspired by The Sims.
  • Careless Whisper by Seether (2007). Covering this George Michael classic, the band turns this into an alt-metal song with a video game theme.

Hold a National Video Game Day Competition

Whether meeting some friends after work or making it a family event, host a video game playing contest. This could be done at home with a big-screen TV and a game console, or at a local arcade on the classic video games. The sky’s the limit when it comes to favorite games and creativity!

National Video Game Day FAQs

What was the first video game?

The first video game that was released commercially was Computer Space, released in 1971.[1]

Are video games good for you?

Some studies have shown that video games can improve hand-eye coordination, information processing and problem-solving skills.[2]

Are video games a sport?

While skill and determination are certainly required for video games, they do not meet the qualifications from the dictionary of a “physical activity engaged in for pleasure”.[3]

Can video games make you smarter?

Some research shows that people who play video games may improve decision-making and problem-solving, increase attention span, and build memory as well as learning potential.[4]

Do video games cause stress?

Not all video games cause stress, but those that are violent can be stressful and make some people more aggressive.[5]

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