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Video game output devices

Learning Intentions

  • Understand what output devices are

  • Be able to identify how the change in technology has led to an increased number of output devices

Success Criteria

  • I can explain what an output device is, particularly in relation to games consoles
  • I can provide examples of output devices used for feedback with video games

Input devices

  • An input device is a piece of hardware that attaches to a computer system. In broad terms, an input device to a computer provides feedback to the computer system.

  • An example of an input device to a computer system is a mouse.

Output devices

  • If an input device provides data to a computer system, an output device provides data from a computer system.

  • These days there are so many different output devices that it becomes hard to list them all. With regards to a standard computer system, an output device might be a printer.

  • Much like an input device, an output device is used to enhance the user’s interaction with a game.

  • When discussing video games consoles, output devices provide feedback.


List as many output devices that a computer system might use.
You will be feeding these back to the class afterwards

Output devices

  • What output devices have we got?

Output devices

This lesson will look at two specific output devices in more detail:

  • The display
  • The audio output device

Display technology

  • As with most technology, display technology has changed significantly over the years. Back in 2003, the cathode ray tube (CRT) was still the predominant form of display technology. These used a lot of electrical energy and were big and bulky.
  • They did however, produce very good colour quality.
  • Since those days we’ve moved to liquid crystal displays (LCD) and more commonly organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays for slimmer, less power consuming displays.
  • At the same time TVs have got a lot larger. These days it’s not uncommon to see TVs of 55+ inches.
  • So how has this affected computer games?

The impact of new display technologies

  • Gaming has become more immersive due to technologies such as curved screens and larger displays. 
  • The lower price of LCD TVs has made gaming more accessible and much cheaper. 

The impact of new display technologies

  • On the other hand, however, new TV have made several generations of gaming unable to be used as the connectors that were used previously (composite video) have been replaced.

  • Older games also tend to look worse on bigger screens as they end up being stretched across the screen.

  • Some game technologies also relied upon the old CRT displays drawbacks in order to be usable, for example Nintendo's R.O.B


The impact of new display technologies

  • The resolution of a display is the number of pixels (the little dots that make up an image) going up and down multiplied by each other.

  • These days, it’s not uncommon to hear of resolutions such as
    • 1280 by 720 (HD)
    • 1920 by 1080 (Full HD)
    • 3840 by 2160 (4K)
    • 7680 by 4320 (8K)


  • The more pixels we have the better the quality of the picture.
  • Games in 1980s had a resolution of around 480 by 240 compared with games today with a resolution of around 3840 by 2160.
  • All of this means that the games console needs to do more work, which can only be achieved by giving it more processing power. 

Audio quality

  • In the early days of video games, games featured very basic sounds that were often almost beeps. This is, much like graphics, down to the fact the audio signal processor was limited.
  • Further to that, video game cartridges that were used were also small in capacity and as a result could not store large audio files.
  • Audio in video games is often referred to in bits, for example the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is considered to have 8 bit audio. This refers to the number of bits used to store information about each part of a recording (known as a sample). The higher the number of bits, the more different noises that can be stored, but also the larger the sound file and the more processing that is needed.

Audio technology improvements

Over the years, audio technology has improved so quickly. For example:

  • 3D spatial audio allows the user to hear sound as though they were in the room
  • Sound systems have reduced in price and are now more available than ever
  • Compression techniques allow sound files to remain small and yet provide excellent quality

Listen to the virtual barber shop

Put headphones on and listen to the 3D barber shop to hear what is meant by 3D sound:

Some devices can be both input and output devices, for example a controller can also vibrate or make sound.
Find up to 10 output devices used by games consoles and create a slide about them with a picture of it as well as how it works.


Presentation Overview
Video game output devices
© 2020 - 2024 J Balfour
17:36 | 23-05-2024
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