What do you call the box that plugs into the TV and plays games? "Game console"? Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have been changing the terms they use for their Entertainment Systems, PlayStations, and Xboxes ever so slightly, ever so purposefully, for two decades. Have a look.
Let's start with Nintendo.
Kotaku researcher extraordinaire András Neltz has helped pull press releases for each of Nintendo's six game console releases. We've added emphasis so you can see the important stuff.
Back in the '80s, Nintendo starts with a faint effort to describe themselves as not making a game console. They then commit to admitting they're making a game machine for the next five generations.
NEW YORK, October 14, 1985 — Nintendo of America Inc., the American subsidiary of the Japanese electronic games manufacturer, has introduced a home video entertainment system that includes an interactive video robot and the Zapper light sensing video gun. The Nintendo Entertainment System includes a Control Deck, two Controllers, R.O.B., the video robot, the Zapper and two game packs - Gyromite and Duck Hunt.
REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 9, 1991 — Following nearly three weeks of hectic shipping activity from its Redmond headquarters, Nintendo of America Inc. Monday announced that its 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES) is now available in stores nationwide. The new home video game system joins Nintendo's portable Game Boy and the Nintendo Entertainment System as the third in the company's record-breaking entertainment product line-up.
REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 30, 1996—Meeting overwhelming consumer demand, Nintendo of America Inc. today launched Nintendo 64, the world's first 64-bit home video game system, to the U.S. market at a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $ 199.95(a). Expected to be the number-one selling home video game system this holiday season, and one of the nation's top 10 "most wanted" gifts on children's holiday wish lists, Nintendo projects it will sell its entire supply, more than one million Nintendo 64 units, in North America over the next six months.
REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 15, 2001 — If you're creeping through a harrowing haunted house in search of your missing brother...facing off against a turtle-back behemoth high atop a castle...or directing the actions of a hundred miniature sprouts across the floor of a mountainside garden...you know you've finally entered the innovative, one-of-a-kind realm of NINTENDO GAMECUBE(TM). On Sunday, Nov. 18, video game players will find themselves immersed in the incomparable game play offered by the world's only new single-purpose video game console, as 700,000 NINTENDO GAMECUBE systems go on sale across the country.
REDMOND, Wash., November 16, 2006 — Nintendo's new Wii(TM) video game system not only changes how people play games, but redefines how they interact with both the system and their televisions. With the Wii Menu, Nintendo offers a gateway to new experiences through a collection of interactive channels people can use to customize their gaming and entertainment options.
REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 16, 2012 – Nintendo's Wii U™ console – the first new home video game system in six years – arrives on Nov. 18, aiming to change the landscape of games and entertainment with its new Wii U GamePad controller. With more than 30 launch-day games for all types of players, Wii U arrives just in time for the holidays and is poised to be the must-have gift of the season.
Here's Sony, spanning four generations, declaring themselves the maker of a game system, then backing off before finally returning to that claim this year:
FOSTER CITY, Calif., Sept. 7, 1995—Months of anticipation will culminate this Saturday, Sept. 9, with the formal introduction and availability of the Sony PlayStation, the highly-anticipated video game system that is the $ 5.2 billion industry's most auspicious debut of the decade.
FOSTER CITY, Calif., September 27, 2000 — As the company prepares to release the highly-anticipated PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system in the North American market, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. announced today the schedule of launch activities to support the biggest consumer electronics launch in history.
Los Angeles, CALIF., May 16, 2005 — At a press conference held in Los Angeles, California, today, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) revealed the outline of its PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3) computer entertainment system, incorporating the world’s most advanced Cell processor with super computer like power.
New York, February 20, 2013 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today introduced PlayStation®4 (PS4™), its next-generation gaming platform for the home, alongside the videogame industry's brightest and most creative minds at PlayStation®Meeting 2013.
Microsoft technically always acknowledged games, but there's this other term that crept its way in...
REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 15, 2001 — Today the Microsoft® Xbox™ video game system rocks the continent with its arrival on store shelves at thousands of retailers across North America.
REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 21, 2005 — In less than 24 hours, gamers and adrenaline junkies alike will converge on thousands of retail outlets to be among the first to purchase the Xbox 360™ next-generation video game and entertainment system from Microsoft Corp. Droves of dedicated fans are expected to line the streets as more than 4,500 retailers open their doors at 12:01 a.m. to answer the demand for the Xbox 360 console and 18 launch games, including “Perfect Dark Zero™,” “Project Gotham Racing® 3” and “Kameo™: Elements of Power™,” from Microsoft Game Studios.
REDMOND, Wash. — May 21, 2013 — A new vision for the future comes to life today as Microsoft Corp. unveils Xbox One, the all-in-one gaming and entertainment system created for today and the next generation. At Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company showcased how Xbox One puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.
That may not explain everything there is to know about Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft's game console ambitions, but the essence of this seems right: Nintendo is gaming-centric, Sony has flirted with being the same and Microsoft's wanted to make an entertainment set-top box for quite some time.
But can't anyone just say they're making a game console? Anyone???
July 10, 2012 - OUYA is a new game console for the TV, powered by Android. We've packed this little box full of power. Developers will have access to OUYA's open design so they can produce their games for the living room, taking advantage of everything the TV has to offer.
Oh, okay. Thanks, Ouya.
Photo: Stephen Brashear/Invision/AP