One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.

What is 8-Bit? What do you need to know and why do you need to care?

What It Is: 8-Bit = The 8-Bit Generation of gaming consoles, such as the BBC Micro and the  Atari 2600.

What It Means: 8-Bit is an advanced computer term, relating to the microprocessing power of gaming consoles and working computers in the 70s and 80s. These units were “8-bit” and are the predecessors to the modern microprocessors as found in devices today.

Why You Care: Many of you may be watching Dara O’Briain’s “Go 8-Bit” family gaming programme on the channel UKTV Dave, and may be wondering what the go “8-Bit” part of the title was referring to. Though the actual definition is a heinously complicated and highly technical term:

In computer architecture, 8-bitintegers, memory addresses, or otherdata units are those that are at most 8bits (1 octet) wide. Also, 8-bit CPUand ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. 8-bit is also a term given to a generation of microcomputers in which 8-bit microprocessors were the norm. –Wikipedia

the only bit [ha ha ha-ed] you need to take away is that it is a term used to refer to retro games and consoles. It implies a blocky, pixelated 2D graphical style, and “chiptune” music; think Space Invaders. 8-bit microprocessors are now considered antique technological objects.


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