Breaking Down How Video Game Consoles Work

Video game consoles are an incredible piece of technology, but how exactly do they work? Here’s a breakdown of how video game consoles work.

Breaking Down How Video Game Consoles Work

If you’ve ever seen inside of a video game console, you know there are hundreds of inner parts that all work together to somehow take a disc or cartridge and present the player with a game. It’s a confusing piece of technology that can seem impossible to understand. Read on to see a breakdown of how video game consoles work.

The Basics

With a video game console, you have a variety of embedded components meant to take the player’s input and directly output them as character actions on the screen. Some parts are:

  • Operating system
  • Storage medium
  • User control interface
  • CPU
  • GPU
  • RAM
  • Video and audio output

All these components work together to take the game’s information, display it on the screen, have the player interact with it directly, and have those actions saved and stored for future use.

The Lasers

Many video game consoles work today by reading video game discs. These discs have tiny bumps that a laser will reflect light off. The console will then convert these reflections into 1s and 0s to read the different digital data from the disc. Similar to how lasers work with barcode scanners, the console interprets changes in reflectivity as data. The console can interpret the changes in reflectivity as data. Then, other parts of the console can take this data and translate it to a game displayed on your screen, and then you can interact with it.

How Does Everything Work Together?

One of the main components of the console is the central processing units (CPUs), as these calculate a lot of the game’s variables and work with the user input. Each game is programmed to operate in a specific logical way unique to that game, and the CPU handles this game logic and how the player moves and interacts with objects, decisions, and characters in that game. Finally, the CPU passes this information to the graphics processing unit (GPU), which visually represents those player choices on-screen.

This GPU works with graphics memory, or video random access memory (VRAM), which stores the video and image data throughout the game, determining how things look. The VRAM system also works with the basic RAM that holds all the game data the CPU uses to calculate different variables and results from the player’s actions.

This breakdown of how video game consoles work will shine a new light on the inner pieces of your consoles, but some components are still hard to understand. This breakdown was rudimentary, but hopefully, after reading this list, you have somewhat of a better understanding of these technological marvels.

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