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How Video Games Became Popular

Playing a video game at home. (Jiji)

The history of home video game consoles runs parallel to the history of personal computers. In technological terms, games consoles and computers are so similar that they can be thought of as siblings.

Home video games began to become popular in Japan in about 1983. That year, several competing companies, such as Nintendo, Sega Enterprises, and Bandai Co., came out with new game consoles. Of these, the console introduced by Nintendo was called the Nintendo Family Computer, or Famicom for short. (The international version of the Famicom was called the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES.) The Famicom was so popular that its name became a synonym for video gaming in general.

Because video games in these early days were 8-bit consoles, they could produce only a limited number of colors and sounds. But these consoles used the most advanced microprocessing technologies of the time, and they were prized as affordable state-of-the-art machines that were just as smart as personal computers, which were also still new to households.