Video games have been around for decades. Evolving from simple one player games that have pixelated graphics to multiplayer games that even come in 3D, video game consoles have really changed the gaming experience.
While arcade games of the past like Pac-Man and Tetris have become famous and sought for by kids and adults alike, the introduction of the video game console in the seventies permitted individuals to play their favorite games at home.
With every release of a new model from a specific manufacturer, their competitor will also release a newer model that can compete and even exceed their opponent.
This competition has led to newer and better video game console features and innovation that has led to the video game consoles that we now use. With over 70 video game consoles released in the market since the seventies, it can be quite good to know how each new model provided new developments in the creation of video game consoles.
In this article, we will provide a brief video game console database of the various consoles released in the market through time by classifying them according to their generation.
Video Game Console Generations
Currently, there are eight video game console generations based on the time period that they were released and the gameplay provided. Here are the following generations:
First Generation (1972-1980)
The video game console first generation began with the release of the first console Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. This was formulated from Ralph Baer’s Brown Box which had “pong” style games that consisted of simple lines, dots, and blocks.
First generation games were simple logic games that were native to the consoles itself. This means that video game consoles during this period still did not have removable games that can be loaded onto the device. Games during this period were mostly black and white and had single or no audio.
Examples of first generation video games are the following:
- Magnavox Odyssey
- Atari Home Pong
- Epoch Co. TV Tennis Electrotennis
- Binatone TV Master
- Coleco Telstar Series
- Nintendo Color TV-Game Series
Second Generation (1976-1992)
The second generation of video game consoles started in 1976 during the “golden age of arcade video games”. During this generation, video games had new features like the microprocessor game logic, AI simulation, single-player gaming, basic colored graphics, external game storage through ROM cartridges, and had a three channel audio.
It was also during this period that handheld video game consoles were first introduced. This handheld video game consoles had a small LCD display and also had few games included
Examples of second generation video games are the following:
- Fairchild Semiconductor
- Atari 2600
- Bally Astrocade
- Mattel Intellivision
- Amerson Arcadia 2001
- Coleco Vision
- Atari 5200
- Nintendo Game and Watch
- Entex Select-A-Game
- Entex adventure Vision
- Epoch Game Pocket Computer
Third Generation (1983-2003)
The third generation of video game consoles, which was also known as the 8-bit era, began in 1983 with the release of the Family Computer. This period shifted the production of video game console manufacturing from North America to Japan.
Development in video game features includes higher screen resolutions, 25-32 screen colors, smooth scrolling, 64-100 sprites on screen, and D-pad game controls.
With the new development in video games, this generation also saw the console war between Nintendo and Sega where each tried to create newer features with each model released.
Examples of third generation video game consoles are the following:
- Sega SG-1000
- Nintendo Family Computer/ Nintendo Entertainment System
- Sega Mark III/Master System
- Casio PV-1000
- Super Cassette Vision
- View-Master Interactive Vision
- VTech Socrates
- Action Max
Fourth Generation (1987-2004)
While the third generation of video game console was known as the 8-bit era, the fourth generation was the 16-bit era of video game consoles.
This generation saw video game consoles that had 16-bit microprocessors, multiple game controls, larger sprites, parallax scrolling, multi-layer backgrounds, scaling and rotation, 64 to 4096 screen colors, CD-ROM support, and stereo audio.
In terms of handheld video game consoles, this was the period that the GameBoy was introduced starting with simple games like Tetris to more complex ones like Pokemon and Kirby.
Examples of fourth generation video game consoles are the following:
- PC Engine
- Mega Drive
- Super Famicom/ Super NES
- Philips CD-i
- Pioneer LaserActive
- SNK Neo Geo CD
- Commodore CDTV
- Super A’Can
- GameBoy Atari Lynx
- Game Gear
- Turbo Express
Fifth Generation (1993-2005)
The fifth generation was known as the 32-bit era, 64-bit era, as well as the 3D era. This period is renowned as the period which changed the gaming industry with the leap from 2D graphics towards 3D.
Furthermore, CD-ROM game storage, full motion video, analog controllers, and 24-bit true color depth truly changed the gaming experience in this period.
Examples of fifth generation video game consoles are the following:
- 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
- Atari Jaguar
- Sega Saturn
- Bandai Playdia
- Apple Bandai Pippin
- Casio Loopy
- Nintendo 64DD
- Virtual Boy
- WonderSwan Color
- Game Boy Color
- Neo Geo Pocket
Sixth Generation (1998-2013)
The sixth generation is also known as the 128-bit era where video game consoles like the Sony PlayStation 2, Sega DreamCast, Microsoft Xbox, and the Nintendo GameCube ruled the market.
This period saw the release of older games with new and improved graphics and gameplay, while games for standard consoles like final Fantasy were made available to handheld versions.
Examples of sixth-generation video game consoles are the following:
- Sony PlayStation 2
- Sega DreamCast
- <Microsoft Xbox
- Nintendo GameCube
- Game Boy Advance
- Game Boy SP
- Game Boy Micro
- Tapwave Zodiac
- Neo Geo Pocket Color
- Pokemon Mini
- GP 32
Seventh Generation (2005-ongoing) and Eight Generation (2011- ongoing)
The seventh and eighth generation of video game consoles is still ongoing at present where manufacturers of gaming consoles develop better graphics, audio, and overall gaming experience.
High-resolution video games are continuously released in the market where users are now able to have movie playback, high internet connectivity, movement sensors, real-world simulation, and even external storage through USBs and external hard disk drives.
Examples of sixth and seventh generation video game consoles are the following:
- Xbox 360
- PlayStation 3
- Nintendo Wii
- Nintendo DS/ DS Lite/ DSi/ DSi XL
- PSP 1000/ 2000/ 3000
- PSP Go
- PSP E1000
While this article lists the most famous and top-selling video game consoles released through different generations, there are still other models and brands that are not included in the lists.
There are some models like the Ex Mini which was only released in China and the GP2X which was released only in South Korea. Truly, the progress and innovation in video game consoles continue to grow and develop through time.