Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Nathan Godfried

Second Committee Member

Anne Knowles

Third Committee Member

Paul Grosweiller

Additional Committee Members

Michael Socolow


After Magnavox released its Odyssey video game console in 1972, video games quickly became popular. By 1976, video games looked poised to be a mainstay of Americans’ media environment. Newspaper articles played a role in this process, but that role has not been specifically examined. This thesis examines how newspaper articles covered video games during their commercialization in the United States from 1972 to 1976. It utilizes twelve newspapers over a five-year period to identify video game article frequency, geographical distribution, language use, value judgements, topic coverage, and frame use. The goal is to identify patterns and situate them within their historical context to understand how newspapers covered video games during this period and their role in video games’ popularization. This thesis concludes that newspapers played a clear role in the popularization of video games. Due to their unfamiliarity with video games, journalists over-relied on experts, resulting in coverage that was overwhelmingly positive, uncritical, and hyperbolic. Furthermore, organized interests, taking advantage of social anxieties, used newspapers to shape and control consumers’ attitudes and behaviors regarding video games, whilst also ensuring capitalist control of the video game market.

Included in

History Commons