Gamers, unite! Today, July 8, is officially known as Video Games Day. Whether you lose hours to your Xbox or stay glued to your smart phone to play, today is dedicated to all those games that rile you up and drive you crazy. These days, the most riveting video games use motion sensors, animation and artificial intelligence — technologies that the creators of Pong probably couldn’t have imagined. The nine TED Talks below, organized by year, show not only the science behind, but also the evolution of, your favorite games. Grab some snacks, clear your schedule and embark on this epic video game adventure.
|Brenda Laurel: Games for girls
The talk: Brenda Laurel on games for girls
The year: 1998
Pulled from the archive, Brenda Laurel’s TED1998 talk addresses the gender imbalance in the video game market and what her company, Purple Moon, is doing about it.
|Torsten Reil: Animate characters by evolving them
The talk: Torsten Reil builds better animations
The year: 2003
A decade ago, Torsten Reil debuted his animation technology in a TED talk. It’s hard to imagine today’s games and films without it.
|Will Wright: Spore, birth of a game
The talk: Will Wright: Spore, birth of a game
The year: 2007
Will Wright demos Spore, a game that went on to be a computer game sensation, at TED2007.
|Johnny Lee: Free or cheap Wii Remote hacks
The talk: Johnny Lee demos Wii remote hacks
The year: 2008
Johnny Lee showcases alternate purposes for the Wii remote, enhancing both learning and gaming, at TED2008.
|Peter Molyneux: Meet Milo, the virtual boy
The talk: Peter Molyneux demos Milo, the virtual boy
The year: 2010
On the TEDGlobal stage, Peter Molyneux shows how the new Xbox Kinect lets users interact with technology in new and exciting ways.
|Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain
The talk: Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain
The year: 2010
In his TEDGlobal talk, Tom Chatfield explains why our brain likes gaming and how those methods can be used to make us like other, more arduous activities.
|Mitch Resnick: Let's teach kids to code
The talk: Mitch Resnick: Let’s teach kids to code
The year: 2012
Mitch Resnick says consuming media without coding is like reading without writing. In his TEDxBeaconStreet talk, he advocates for kids to code.
|Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life
The talk: Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life
The year: 2012
After a traumatic brain injury left her suicidal, Jane McGonigal created SuperBetter, a video game to help emotionally heal the ill. She explains how it works and uses it to give the audience 7.5 minutes of extra life in this TEDGlobal 2012 talk.
And a bonus talk from the year 2010: Gabe Zichermann’s “How gaming makes kids smarter.” Think all gamers are lazy and unmotivated? Gabe Zichermann explains why video games are actually making kids productive, problem-solvers in his TEDxKids@Brussels talk.
PS: TED has lots more talks on video games and gaming — this search will uncover them.