By the end of this lesson students will learn about the history of video games and how they have evolved over time.
Grade Level: 6
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.3: Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.9: Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person).
Students will learn about and appreciate the diversity of video games, including the different genres, themes, and cultures represented in the games. This can be aligned with DEIA standards that focus on promoting awareness and understanding of diversity, such as:
- Students will recognize the value of diverse perspectives and experiences.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of and respect for different cultures, beliefs, and identities.
Students will explore the impact of video games on society and culture, including issues related to social justice and equity. This can be aligned with DEIA standards that focus on promoting equity and social justice, such as:
- Students will identify and challenge unfair practices and systems of power and privilege.
- Students will develop an understanding of the impact of discrimination and bias on individuals and groups.
Students will analyze and compare different video games from different eras, identifying key similarities and differences in terms of gameplay, graphics, and narrative. This can be aligned with DEIA standards that focus on promoting inclusion and creating welcoming and inclusive learning environments, such as:
- Students will recognize and appreciate the diversity of backgrounds and experiences among their peers.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of how to create and maintain an inclusive learning environment that welcomes and respects all students.
Students will analyze and compare the accessibility of different video games, including issues related to disability and inclusion. This can be aligned with DEIA standards that focus on promoting accessibility and removing barriers to learning, such as:
- Students will recognize and appreciate the unique strengths and challenges of individuals with disabilities.
- Students will develop an understanding of how to create and adapt learning materials and environments to meet the needs of diverse learners.
- Pictures of old video game consoles (Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, etc.)
- Pictures of popular video game characters (Mario, Sonic, etc.)
- A projector or TV to display pictures and videos
- Video game controller (optional)
To spark interest in the history of video gaming, bring in an older video game console and ask students if they recognize it or have ever played a game on it. This could spark their interest in the history of video games and get them thinking about how video games have changed over time.
Alternatively, you could ask students what their favorite video games are and then show them the first video game ever made. This could prompt them to think about how video games have evolved and improved over time.
Introduction (10 minutes)
- Begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever played a video game before. Ask them to name their favorite video game.
- Using chart paper, capture the various games they list.
- Then, show pictures of old video game consoles and ask students if they recognize any of them.
- Ask students what they notice about video games from then and now. Chart their responses and then explain that video games have been around for a long time, and they have changed a lot since they were first invented.
Inquiry (30 minutes)
- Show pictures and videos of the first video game, Pong. Explain that it was created in 1972 and was very simple compared to today’s video games.
- Show pictures of the Atari 2600 and explain that it was the first home video game console. Explain that it was released in 1977 and was very popular.
- Show pictures of the Nintendo Entertainment System and explain that it was released in 1985 and was also very popular. Show pictures of popular video game characters from the NES era, such as Mario and Donkey Kong.
- Explain that video games continued to evolve over time, with new consoles and new types of games being created.
- Show pictures of modern video game consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Explain that these consoles are much more powerful than the old consoles and can display very realistic graphics.
- If you have a video game controller, allow students to hold it and explain how it is used to play video games.
- To assess student learning, ask students to draw a picture of their favorite video game character from the lesson and write a few sentences about what they learned about the history of video games.
Extension Activity (optional) (20 minutes)
To further the conversation around the history of video games consider adding a read aloud to scaffold their new understandings. Some examples of read alouds could include the following:
“The Ultimate Guide to Video Game History” by Crispin Boyer
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the history of video games, with plenty of pictures and fun facts that could supplement a lesson. It covers everything from the earliest video games to the most recent, and includes information on major game developers and popular games.
“The Story of Video Games: The Fun and Games of Electronic Entertainment” by Ishaan Sahdev
This book is a great introduction to the history of video games for younger students. It covers the basics of video game history, including the first games, early consoles, and major milestones in gaming history. It also includes colorful illustrations that are sure to engage young readers.
“Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America” by Jeff Ryan
This book tells the story of how Nintendo, one of the most successful video game companies in history, got its start and became the household name it is today. It focuses on the history of the company and its flagship game, Super Mario, and includes anecdotes and stories that make it a fun read for both children and adults.
All of these picture books could be used to supplement a lesson on the history of video games and provide additional context and information for students. They could be read aloud to the class, used for independent reading or research, or incorporated into a larger project or activity.
Conclusion (10 minutes)
- Recap the lesson by asking students to name some of the old video game consoles and characters they learned about.
- Ask students how they think video games will continue to evolve in the future.
- Encourage students to play video games responsibly and to take breaks to rest their eyes and hands.