As the 1980s came to a close, a curious thing happened to American consumers: they began to really understand what the word "upgrade" meant. This realization occurred thanks to a magical fusion of technological advancement and capitalistic opportunity: the video game console.

In the future-world of the late eighties, a post-crash video game market had firmly and finally established itself as a legitimate business sector — not a fad or addendum to the burgeoning PC market or an arcade also-ran — but a stable, viable industry unto itself. Nintendo and Sega waged war through most of the decade, battling for the hearts, minds, and dollars of the American consumer, all the while establishing brands that were becoming as recognizable as Coke or Pepsi. The fanbases were fervent, the rewards fantastic, the potential seemingly limitless. It was this particular kind of technological potential that seemed unique to this moment — but would prove to be much more permanent and important than anyone could have guessed.