Geek Trivia

Which Video Game Company Pushed The Term “Game Console”?

Atari
Nintendo
Sega
Microsoft
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1990 era Nintendo ad encouraging people to use the Nintendo trademark properly
Nintendo

Answer: Nintendo

If you’re a video game geek of a certain vintage, then you’ll definitely recall everybody (and their grandma) referring to video game consoles back in the late 1980s and early 1990s as “Nintendos”.

As in “Hey, where’s John, Grandma?”, “He’s inside playing on the Nintendo.”—wherein upon finding John, he was actually playing the Sega Genesis.

In fact, the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System and its successor the Super Nintendo Entertainment system, had ensured that not only were the physical systems themselves practically ubiquitous in American households, but the name, too, had become almost a generic term for game consoles in general—much like people say Kleenex in place of tissue or Coke in place of soda.

To prevent damage to their trademark and a dilution of their powerful branding, Nintendo aggressively began promoting the phrase “game console”, ran ads—like the one seen here—reminding people that Nintendo shouldn’t be used as a generic term for game systems, and otherwise moved to protect the reputation of their brand. The strategy worked and short of a well-meaning grandma here or there, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone generically referring to game consoles as “Nintendos” these days.