HONOLULU (KHON2) — The world of video games has changed over the decades. Human fascination with technology and play is a transcendent experience for many.

A digital game of tennis was the very first video game every created in 1958 by William Higinbotham. The game premiered at the Brookhaven National Laboratory open house in October of that year.

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  • A photo shows Tennis for Two, the first video game invented in October 1958 by William Higinbotham in New York, New York. (Photo/Brookhaven National Library)
  • A photo shows the analog schematics for Tennis for Two, the first video game invented in October 1958 by William Higinbotham in New York, New York. (Photo/Brookhaven National Library)

In 1962, Steve Russell invented Spacewar! This video game changed the way scientists envisioned the future of video games and led to the creation of Atari.

The founders of Atari — Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney — invented the very first arcade video game and cabinet in 1971. The game was called Computer Space, and the age of the arcade was born.

This led to a boom in the 1970s and 1980s of the video arcade in which every pre-teen and teenager lived when they were not in school.

The immense popularity of these arcades led to the assimilation of home consoles in the 1980s and 1990s.

Since these early days, the gaming community has burgeoned into its own social and economic landscape. Much of what video games do for its participants is creating opportunities for teamwork, communication, problem-solving and creativity, according to ʻŌlelo Community Media, a leading resource for media education on O’ahu.

Today, video games and esports competitions are dominating the world. Hawaiʻi has several esports and video game competitions. Organizations like ʻŌlelo are stepping in to provide platforms for students to gain access to video games and esports and to become those experts that lead the way.

Wisetek recently did a bit of online data research to discover the most video game obsessed states in the U.S., and Hawaiʻi ranked as number one.

They found that Hawaiʻi leads with California, Alaska and Nevada rounding out the top four.

They also found that the District of Columbia is the least interested in video games with Vermont, Maine, South Carolina and Mississippi rounding out the states that couldn’t care less about video games.

“Gaming is such a huge part of many people’s lives today, and it’s not just playing video games. It’s watching streamers on Twitch and YouTube and consuming content through various different channels,” said Milica Vojnic, Wisetek Store Digital Marketing Manager.

Twitch is a social media app like YouTube that allows gamers to interact with more experienced and less experienced gamers. Much of the content is entertainment based instructive media that provides insights and help on how to defeat a video game.

Those who watch Twitch can end up watching for hours. They learn, socialize and strategize on how best to defeat opponents and video games.

“[Video games] are most definitely not the niche form of entertainment it was around 40 years ago. It’s at the forefront of pop-culture. We can see it even through runaway popularity of the Last of Us television series which, of course, was based off the highly successful video game,” explained Vojnic.

ʻŌlelo Community Media has stepped up to provide access to esports on O’ahu.

According to ʻŌlelo, “Esports, or competitive video gaming, has been gaining popularity and recognition in Hawaiʻi as more schools and organizations join the esports scene. From League of Legends to Overwatch, Hawaiʻi gamers are showing their skills and passion for esports on various platforms.”

ʻŌlelo is partnering with schools and institutions on O’ahu to broadcast esports events across the island. Recently, they collaborated with Waipahu Library, TRUE, Vanta and HPU Esports as a way of showcasing esports programs and tournaments.

“We are proud to support esports in Hawaiʻi because we believe it is a powerful way to connect with our youth and empower their voice. Esports is more than just playing games; it’s about learning new skills, making new friends and having fun,” said Roger McKeague, ʻŌlelo’s CEO.

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In providing access to esports, ʻŌlelo seeks to broaden educational opportunities as well as creating workforce development. This opens doors for local keiki to be at the forefront of video game and esports development and innovation.