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A console game is a form of interactive multimedia used for entertainment. The game consists of manipulable images (and usually sounds) generated by a video game console and displayed on a television or similar audio-video system. The game itself is usually controlled and manipulated using a handheld device connected to the console, called a controller. The controller generally contains a number of buttons and directional controls, (such as analog joysticks), each of which has been assigned a purpose for interacting with and controlling the images on the screen. The display, speakers, console, and controls of a console can also be incorporated into one small object known as a handheld game.
Modern game multimedia usually comes in the form of an disc, which can be inserted into the game console. Recent advances have allowed games and game demos to be downloaded directly to the console via the Internet. Simpler consoles, however, may only have a fixed selection of built-in games. Cartridges were previously common storage devices for video game data, but due to technological advances, most video games are now stored on CDs, or higher capacity DVDs, or the Blu-ray Disc used by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The only games stored on cartridges now are the ones for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and Neo Geo X and they are called "cards".
Video games generally each contain different gameplay, objectives, goals, control-schemes, characters, and other features. Each game is usually contained on a specifically designed multimedia disc or cartridge, which are generally sold separately from the console and each other. In order to play the specific game, the specific console for which it was designed is needed. For example, in order to play Ride to Hell: Retribution, an Xbox 360 is needed and to play The Last of Us a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 is needed.
The differences between consoles create additional challenges and opportunities for game developers, as the console manufacturers (e.g. Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony) may provide extra incentives, support and marketing for 'console exclusive' games. To aid development of videogames for consoles, console manufacturers often create game development kits that developers can use for their work.
Console and display
The different consoles each use different controllers. Controllers are input devices used to interact with the game. So, for example, if you had a game in which you must control a character in order to obtain a red apple, you would be able to use an analog stick or directional pad ("D Pad") to move your character towards the apple to collect it. Actions buttons, such as "x" on the PS3, will be used to win the game. Video games, of course, are usually much more complicated than this. In the game Pikmin for the Nintendo GameCube, the player uses the analog stick to control his character, the "C" analog stick to tell his Pikmin what to do or where to go, and the "A" button to throw the Pikmin.
Games require a screen of some sort. In the case of normal consoles, a television is the most common form of screen used. The screen is used as a source of visual output. As the player pushes buttons and moves analogs on the controller, the screen responds to the actions and changes take place on the screen, simulating actual movement.
Consoles use a large sized (albeit low-resolution) television as their visual output device: optimal for viewing at a greater distance by a larger audience. As a result, many video games are designed for local multiplayer play, with all players viewing the same TV set, with the screen divided into several sections and each player using a different controller.
Video games have generally had access to less computing power, less flexible computing power, and lower resolution displays. Dedicated consoles were advanced graphically, especially in animation. This is because video game consoles had dedicated graphics hardware, were able to load data instantly from ROM, and a low resolution output would look better on a television because it naturally blurs the pixels.
Ratings and censorship
Several systems exist world-wide to regulate or censor the video games industry. Some, like the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) are composed of members of the industry themselves, while others, like Pan European Game Information (PEGI), are government-backed.
From time to time, video games have been criticized by parents' groups, psychologists, politicians, and some religious organizations for allegedly glorifying violence, cruelty, and crime and exposing children to these elements. It is particularly disturbing to some that some video games allow children to act out crimes (for example, the Grand Theft Auto series), and reward them for doing so. Concerns that children who play violent video games may have a tendency to act more aggressively on the playground have led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB rating system in the United States and the PEGI rating system in Europe (see above), that are aimed at educating parents about the types of games their children should or should not be playing. Although, studies have shown that most parents who complain about their young children acting increasingly aggressive and violent on the school playground due to video games do not follow the ESRB and PEGI rating systems. Many parents complain about their children, as young as 8, acting out violence depicted in Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, even though their ratings clearly state that the recommended age is 18 and above.
Most studies, however, reach the conclusion that violence in video games is not causally linked with aggressive tendencies. This was the conclusion of a 1999 study by the U.S. government, prompting Surgeon General David Satcher to say, “...we clearly associate media violence to aggressive behavior, but the impact was very small compared to other things. Some may not be happy with that, but that’s where the magic is.” This was also the conclusion of a meta-analysis by psychologist Jonathan Freedman, who reviewed over 200 published studies and found that the majority did not find a causal link.
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- Paton, Graeme (3 April 2012). "Violent video games are fuelling rise in aggressive behaviour". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Wright, Brad (18 February 2004). "Sounding the alarm on video game ratings". CNN. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Freedman, Jonathan (September 1984). "Effect of television violence on aggressiveness.". Psychological Bulletin. 96 (2): 227–246. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.96.2.227.
- Leslie Hook (2012-06-18). "Lenovo's Kinect-clone evades Chinese ban on video-game consoles". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- Luke Ume (2011-12-15). "Console Revolution". The Escapist. Retrieved 2012-08-20.