Video games have come a long way since Pong, where two players hit a white dot across a television screen. Incredible graphics, killer soundtracks, and online game playing have made playing video games one of the most exciting things you can do in your living room. Since you want to get the most fun for your money, you need help choosing the right video game console. If you're shopping for one, familiarize yourself with these terms first, so you'll know what you're getting.
Video game console: The term video game console is often used to refer to the whole video game system, but the console is really just the central hub, the part that holds the CPU, RAM, and audio/visual processor. Yet, since the console is useless without the controllers and game media, and vice versa, the terms have become interchangeable.
Platform: This is another name for a video game system. For example, when a game is available to play on two different video game systems, it is said to be available on two platforms.
Backwards compatibility: When a video game system is backwards compatible, it can play older games from previous systems made by that same company. When you buy the newest game console, you get the latest and coolest technology in video gaming. You'll be able to play all the new games that are only released for the new console. And if think you'll miss your old games, look for systems that are backwards compatible.
Bundle: Some games require a special controller or other type of accessory; when a game is packaged and sold with the accessory and the cables needed to connect the accessory, it's referred to as a bundle. "Bundle" can also refer to several accessories which are packaged together.
Firmware: When a piece of computer hardware can be updated like software, it's referred to as firmware. A lot of firmware is included in the newest video game consoles, much of which can be updated through the console's internet connection.
Skin: A skin is a decorative sticker to personalize the appearance of your console, as well as protect the exterior from scratches. Of course, you don't need a skin for your console to work, but your friends are sure to be jealous when they see how fierce your console looks with a cool skin.
Refurbished video game console: A refurbished console may have been purchased and returned after little use, or it may have been a demo model. The console was then restored to "like-new" condition, meaning it will look new and play as well as a new console. Occasionally, refurbished or reconditioned items may not be in the original packaging, but once you get your system set up, you'll never know the difference. Click here for more information about refurbished items.
Published June 5, 2014
Updated February 17, 2015