Executive Summary

By: John Harmon, Hayden-Anne Breedlove, Grant Shaw, Sarah Kingsley, Spencer Kulow, and Lauren Carroll

The proposal for our CYOU topic is the history of video games, including their development from early university, mainframe-based gaming, to the eventual adoption of household and private gaming systems. This is an important theme because it examines both technological and social changes in the U.S.that occurred alongside, as a catalyst for, and a result of video games. We will examine the changing technological aspects throughout the U.S. between the 1940s-1980s that allowed these video games to be developed, the changing social aspects brought about by the development of these video games, and finally the way in which these two distinct changes were in fact very dependent on each other. The major technological developments include the invention of the microprocessor and the internet, while major social changes include an increased shift to personal, in-home entertainment and a shift away from more active, outdoor-based entertainment.


This theme complements the other units by exhibiting the changing forms of entertainment in society because of the increased role of technology. American children and teenagers switched from a more active, outdoors-based form of entertainment to a technologically based entertainment form. Prior to the creation of the video game, children would have to provide entertainment for themselves, expressing their creativity, all while socializing with other children. The development of the video game decreased children’s interactions with one another because a single gaming system could provide all the entertainment they needed. Children could play against each other online, but not interact. The focus on technology and increasing America’s innovation and knowledge ultimately led to this technological boom.


This particular theme is important because the market of video games is a prominent aspects of our culture nowadays. Billions of dollars each year are poured into trying to find new ways to entertain people. Many of the games that have been produced in the past half-century have shaped society; their impact continues to be felt today. The development of video games from a form of entertainment relegated to arcades reflect later generations’ desires for easier access to entertainment, music, and other forms of cultural development. Finally, the ability to play against other people without being in direct contact with them has had a large effect on not only how society has changed, but also in the way individual contact has become depersonalized.

The development of the video game is important for the class to learn about because it is one of America’s greatest technological advances, with a long-lasting impact. Video games have been used throughout each generation and are continued to be used today. The majority of the students in this class have been exposed to video games at some point throughout their lives, making this theme a relatable topic for the entire class.