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Thread: An illustration of how video game sizes have grown over the years.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    Default An illustration of how video game sizes have grown over the years.

    In 1977, the Atari 2600 launched with 2 kilobyte cartridges. Each Atari cart was 87 x 81 mm, or about 7,047 sq mm / 10.92 square inches / 0.075854 square feet.

    But let's imagine that other video game media had that same data density, to put into perspective how much things have grown.

    A typical circa 1982 spec bank switched Atari 2600 cartridge holds 8 kilobytes. At the same density, that's 0.303 square feet, or a square 6.61 inches on each size. This is about the size of a Neo Geo cartridge.

    The first generation NES cartridges in 1986 were 40 kilobytes. This would be 1.517 square feet, or a square roughly 14.8 inches on each side, about the size of a pizza box. Imagine a pizza box sized cartridge!

    A "one-mega" Sega Master System cartridge, also from 1986, was 128 kilobytes. This is 4.854 square feet, or a square roughly 26.4 inches on each side, about the size of an end table.

    A later NES cartridge might be around 384 kilobytes, which is the size of 1990's Super Mario Bros. 3. This is 14.56 square feet, or a square 3.82 feet on each side. This is about the floor space of an average closet.

    An early, say 1991-ish game for a 16-bit console might be around 1 megabyte. This is 38.8 square feet, or a square 6.23 feet on each side. Unless you're really tall, you could lay your entire body on this cartridge. It's also the floor space of a small bathroom.

    A typical 16-bit game from around 1993 might be around 2 megabytes. This is 77.6 square feet, or a square 8.81 feet on each side. Imagine a tiny bedroom, or the footprint of a compact car.

    And the largest 16-bit cartridge from "back in the day", Star Ocean from 1996 on SNES, was 6 megabytes. This is about 233 square feet, a square 15.3 feet on each side, or the size of an average bedroom. I could almost park my car (a 2011 Honda Accord sedan) on such a square.

    So just from the launch Atari 2600 in 1977 to the biggest 16-bit games of the mid-1990s we've gone from the scale of, well, an Atari 2600 cartridge to an entire room of a house. But things are about to get ridiculous.

    A CD, as used on Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation from 1995 on (and some others, some a little earlier) is 700 megabytes. That's 26,549 square feet. That's three mansions, or a typical office building with 150-200 workers, or almost half the area of an average football field. It's a square 162.9 feet on each side.

    A Sega Dreamcast GD-ROM is 1.2 gigabytes. That's 45,512 square feet. That's larger than the average grocery store, or an office building with about 300 workers. It's a square 213.3 feet on each side.

    But what about a DVD? We're still in the "very small by today's standards" zone at 4.7 gigabytes, yet it's 178,256 square feet. That's about the size of an average hypermarket, such as a Wal-Mart Supercenter or Costco. It's a square 422.2 feet on each side.

    A Blu-Ray, at 25 gigabytes, is a mind-numbing 948,175 square feet. This is the size of a large mall, not much smaller than my local mall, Rivergate Mall in its heyday. It's a square 973.7 feet on each side - almost 1/5 of a mile.

    And the largest PS5 game, Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, is 225.3 gigabytes. That's 8,544,953 square feet! That's more than 3 Empire State Buildings worth of floor space. It's also a square 2,923 feet - over half a mile - on each side.

    The Empire State Building's floor space is 2,703,430 square feet, or about 71.2 gigabytes by our measuring scale. This would be a pretty typical size for a modern game, so it's safe to say that in the last 45 years we've gone from games the size of Atari cartridges to, on the same data scale, whole Empire State Buildings.
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    Apple (Level 5) Hep038's Avatar
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    This is awesome. I guess the most visual one for me is the Atari Cartage vs DVD. In my head I can see a Atari cartage sitting in the middle of an empty Costco. Thank you for this.

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    WelcomeToTheNextLevel (10-23-2022)

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