The video-game industry has come a long way, with decades of history behind it. Well-known companies, beloved franchises, and long-standing genres: Each has a fascinating story. With the modern press obsessing over the hottest upcoming releases, it's often useful and interesting to look back to where the industry came from. Readers can't expect writers to break down current news effectively without some sort of background or context. History is an inexorable part of writing, and writers cannot separate game history from what they do.

Which brings us to this month's challenge: Gamers' History. This exercise will see participants doing research into a facet of industry history and reporting back not only the facts, but also the context of those facts and why they matter. Time to bone up!

The Prompt

For this challenge, participants will practice researching a topic and write an article detailing its history. The challenge comes from how you report the information you find. A dry transplant of the facts will not cut it here: You'll need to apply a layer of analysis and context to what you find. What cause-and-effect relationships exist? How did the climate of the time impact these details? How does the chronology of your topic develop to its present state? These are ideas you will have to incorporate into your piece.

 
  1. Pick a game-related topic that has persisted for a reasonably long duration of time and research it. Whether it is a games series, a developer, a genre, or a line of console hardware, pick a subject that has a history you can report on. Make sure it interests you, because you'll need to dig pretty deep!

  2. Write an article detailing the complete history of your topic. Write a piece that covers your topic's chronology from its beginnings to the present day. If your topic's timeline ends before the present era, try to close with a meditation on how it impacted the industry we know today. For some examples, look at my piece on Ultra and LJN or Reggie Carolipio's classic PC gaming column. Since the scope of potential topics can vary wildly, this exercise will limit pieces to under 2000 words. Please make sure that you are able to do a satisfactory in-depth history piece on your topic that will fit this requirement.

  3. Include the tag “Gamers' History” and invite users to ask questions about your topic at the end. Your deadline for posting your pieces is February 26.

  4. Answer any and all questions readers ask in the comments section. You're going to cover the major points of your topic in your piece, but naturally, you're not going to be able to cover every small detail. But since you researched and wrote a piece on your topic, you've positioned yourself as an “expert” on it. Use this new-found knowledge to answer any lingering questions the community has.

  5. Ask questions in the comments section of other challenge pieces. In order to test your fellow challenge participants' knowledge of their topics, ask each participant at least one question about their topic. All questions and answers are due February 28.

I'll collect the finished products into a single post soon after the final deadline. These roundups are usually seen by a lot of people. By participating, you increase your chances of getting your work noticed. And as always, this challenge will hopefully help you improve your writing skills. Now go make some history of your own!