HIST 3801: The Emergence of Video Games in the US to the Early 1980s


By 1982, video games had emerged in the US as a mainstream popular multi-billion dollar commercial entertainment medium. Just ten years early, the first commercial video products had only just launched and the status and character of the industry was uncertain. 

Over the first decade of the history of video games in the US, cultural associations coalesced around three broad characteristics: youthfulness, masculinity, and white middle class identity. How did this come to be?

This lecture explores the emergence of video games in the US as a medium and its cultural meanings. It provides an overview of the business chronology of video games, examines advertising and other texts, and explains some of the methods used in video game history.