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ThuJul 8

National Video Game Day – July 8, 2021

Dust off that old Nintendo and haul your prized collection of games out of the closet. National Video Game Day happens on July 8! (Its cousin, National Video Games Day, is Sept. 12.) Primarily used for recreational purposes (although professional gaming leagues do, in fact, exist), video games have exploded in popularity over the last few decades. They’re exciting, invigorating, and most importantly — not just for kids. The very first video game ever invented involved simple table tennis. Today, there are over five million games in existence. From high-speed racing adventures to perilous virtual dueling matches, there’s a genre for everyone to enjoy.

When is National Video Game Day 2021?

From “Pac-Man” to “Call of Duty,” from Atari to PlayStation, the digital realm of video games is celebrated on July 8.

History of National Video Game Day

Gaming is a serious business. Even though it has been one of the biggest hobbies sustained since its creation, many gamers have made a livelihood from playing video games. The world’s number one YouTuber, PewDiePie, is a testimony to this. Gaming has definitely come a long way, from its humble beginnings of old-school arcade games to entire universes created with elaborate digital storylines. There are video games out there with better stories than actual live-action movies. The “Batman: Arkham” series is considered the best superhero game of all time, and the story has received more appreciation than some of the recent “Batman” Hollywood productions. 

The earliest video games were developed in universities in the 1950s. Experimental games included virtual renditions of paper games like tic-tac-toe. Dr. Edward Uhler Condon unveiled what is considered the first example of a gaming machine in 1940 at the New York World’s Fair. The game showcased was based on the mathematical game “Nim,” and was played by more than 50,000 people during its time on display. The computer algorithm won more than 90% of all games played.  

The first breakthrough for gaming occurred three decades later in 1967, when the father of gaming, Ralph Baer, developed the ‘Brown Box,’ the first-ever game system intended for commercial use. This inspired Atari to create the now-classic game “Pong.” A copyright infringement lawsuit followed this, but Atari came out the other side with the release of their Atari 2600. This led to the era of iconic games like “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man.”  

When the gaming scene crashed in 1983, Japan-based Nintendo had their breakthrough. They released some of the most popular gaming franchises like “Super Mario Bros.,” and “The Legend of Zelda” and smashed records with them. The competition also grew as Sega hit the market, driving towards 3D gaming. 

The modern era of games in the early 21st century kicked off with the Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the Wii. Ever since, video games have stormed all digital platforms, with video game apps ranging across all stores. This also led to the birth of the online gaming community. The rising popularity of smartphones since 2007 has also evolved the way games are developed, with some of the most popular game titles belonging strictly to the mobile platform. 

What’s next in gaming is virtual reality. Big companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are all aiming for breakthroughs in VR gaming.

National Video Game Day timeline

1940
Debut of the Video Game

The first video game, ‘Nim’ is introduced at the New York World’s Fair by Edward Condon.

1977
The Ancestral Console

Atari’s first console, the Atari 2600, is released with games like “Frogger.”

1985
The Year of Mario’s Inception

The first Super Mario game is released!

1989
Gaming on the Go

For the first time, gamers can travel with their consoles as Nintendo releases the Game Boy in the summer.

2019
Pokemon for the Switch generation

“Pokemon Sword and Shield” for the Switch are both released.

National Video Game Day - Survey Results

NATIONALTODAY NATIONAL VIDEO GAME DAY SURVEY
Info gained from a top Entertainment Marketing Agency (Survey of 1,000 Americans)

What’s the best gaming console?
#1: Playstation (38%)
#2: Xbox (38%)
#3: Nintendo (21%)

What’s the best video game franchise?
#1: Super Mario (47%)
#2: Call of Duty (21%)
#3: Donkey Kong (19%)
#4: Grand Theft Auto (19%)
#5: Pokemon (16%)
#6: Zelda (13%)
#7: Sonic the Hedgehog (13%)
#8: Final Fantasy (9%)
#9: Halo (9%)
#10: Crash Bandicoot (7%)

How often do you play video games?
#1: Everyday (31%)
#2: Rarely (31%)
#3: 2-3x a week (23%)

When do mobile gamers like to play games on their phones?
#1: Whenever I’m bored (66%)
#2: When I’m watching TV (41%)
#3: Before I go to sleep (39%)
#4: When I’m on the toilet (34%)
#5: During my breaks at work (21%)
#6: Whenever I’m eating (20%)
#7: Before I leave for work (12%)
#8: On my commute to work (8%)

Traditions of the Day

It is a big day for gamers and game developers worldwide, and as geeky as gamers may seem to some, they sure know how to celebrate in style! Gaming marathons and conventions are held all over the world, with competitions, cosplays, and a chance to get exclusive gaming merchandise. Streaming of both classic and new games is higher than ever on websites like YouTube and Twitch. 

Those who are not hardcore gamers enjoy their favorite games on their smartphones and computers. Childhood favorites like “Super Mario” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” games are revisited and even introduced to the next generation who didn’t grow up with them. Popular games are featured on Apple and Android stores and many games have special features and sales. 

National Video Game Day FAQs

What is the #1 game in the world?

“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” is regarded as the #1 game in the world. 

 

What is the most successful video game?

The most successful video game of all time is “Minecraft.”

 

What is the most downloaded game of all time?

At one point, “Candy Crush Saga” reigned as the most popular mobile game in the world. Today, it continues to rank in first place in the Apple App Store and second place on the Google Play Store.

National Video Game Day Activities

  1. Stage a marathon with friends

    Take a sick day from work (or if your boss is super chill – just let him/her know you’re calling out because it’s Video Game Day), whip out Mario Kart 64, and get ready to party like it’s 1999. Although one could easily play for hours, it’s always nice to have a couple of different games on hand for your enthusiastic guests to choose from.

  2. Visit a themed bar

    If all of your buddies are busy working, look for the nearest video game-themed bar (assuming you're over 21) and head out to mingle among other comrades. Perhaps you’ll even make a couple of new friends!

  3. Dress up

    Whether you consider yourself more of a Luigi or a Nathan Drake, putting together the costume is half the fun. The other half? Showing it off, of course.

5 Facts

  1. The worst video game of all time

    The Atari game “E.T.” is widely regarded as the worst video game of all time — it was so bad that the creators literally buried copies of the game in the New Mexico desert.

  2. More viewers than the Super Bowl!

    Such is the popularity of e-sports that the past few championships of the League of Legends World Competition have had a bigger viewership than the NBA finals or Super Bowl!

  3. Not just for teenagers

    The average age of a gamer is 35, according to a recent study — this proves that the gaming market is expanding beyond kids and teenagers.

  4. Nameless Kombat

    The greatest fighting game of all time, “Mortal Kombat,” didn’t have a name for the first six months of its development.

  5. A game for the price of a cereal?

    The game “Chex Quest” was released as part of a Chex cereal promotion — it was the first video game ever to come as a cereal box prize.

Why We Love National Video Game Day

  1. They’re timeless

    Despite our increasingly complex tech world (although we don’t have flying cars yet), video games will never go out of style. They just keep getting better all the time.

  2. Never boring

    Playing video games is one of the best ways to pass free time. Granted, there are certainly lots of other activities available — but let’s be honest: Why would we even consider these, when video games are an option? Plus, the adrenaline rush we get by saving Princess Peach from the evil Bowser is incomparable.

  3. They teach us valuable life lessons

    Believe it or not, video games can teach important life lessons. Many characters possess distinct personalities, relationships, and aspirations. You get to create their destinies through thought-provoking scenarios.

National Video Game Day dates

YearDateDay
2021July 8Thursday
2022July 8Friday
2023July 8Saturday
2024July 8Monday
2025July 8Tuesday