What Is a Game Platform?

by Michael Black
The Game Boy is one game platform.

The Game Boy is one game platform.

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Home video games have come a very long way since their inception in the late '60s. From large, single-game units to modern 3D hand-held systems, the evolution of video games has been nothing short of astounding. Over the years, a certain set of terminology has evolved around these home video-game systems, including the term "platform."


In gaming lingo, a platform is another word for a gaming system. Everything from a personal computer to an Atari to an Xbox 360 is technically a video-game platform. Platform is often used interchangeably with words like system and console. The term "platform" is most commonly used when discussing games for these systems. When a game is multi-platform, that means that it is being released for multiple systems at once, and a single platform game is one that is only released for one system.

Modern Home Platforms

As of 2011, the three major home video-game platforms are Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3. Each of these platforms has their own special features and games, making it important for the consumer to do a bit of research before buying one of these platforms. The computer is also a major force in the world of modern video games. It has become quite common for major games to be released for computers as well as dedicated video-game platforms.

Hand-Held Platforms

Hand-held platforms are some of the most popular video-game systems ever created. Nintendo's original Game Boy, one of the first major hand-held platforms, has been estimated by Nintendo to have sold over 100 million units. The Game Boy is by far the best selling hand-held video game platform ever created. The Sony PSP, the Nintendo DS, the Sega Game Gear and the NeoGeo Pocket Color are all examples of hand-held video-game platforms. Smart phones like the iPhone and the Android can also be thought of as video-game platforms.

Classic Platforms

The video games of 2011 would not be possible without the games of the past. Classic platforms such as the Pong system, which could only play "Pong," and the Odyssey paved the way for platforms like the Atari and the Nintendo Entertainment System, which in turn lead to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis and so on. Many of the classic games that were originally released for these platforms are being re-released by major video game companies through services like Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo's Virtual Console.

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