The Video Game History Foundation seems to have the answer, and it’s a bit of a rollercoaster. To begin, Video Games Day, or National Video Games Day – as described by the foundation, “is so poorly documented that the internet can’t even agree on the date: some sources say July 8th, others say September 12th. Some websites even claim these days are two distinct holidays.” And when you do the digging, even on sites that are meant to explain the origins of niche “holidays” like this one, there just isn’t an answer. But when the internet fails, what do we do? Turn to paper.
While looking at archives of magazines and newspapers, the Video Game History Foundation found several conflicting mentions of Video Games Day, with the earliest coming from the early ’90s and mid-2000s. Some sources say it’s September 12, and some say it’s July 8. One thing these sources can actually agree upon is that it’s a day where children can and should enjoy their gizmos and gadgets, and, “thank their parents for providing cartridges and quarters needed to indulge this enthusiasm,” as said in the July 7, 1992 edition of The Hanover Evening Sun.
But where everything comes to a point in the same clip from The Hanover Evening Sun (a newspaper in Pennsylvania, which still exists today), the clip mentions a man named David Earle who was president of Kid Video Warriors and the “sponsor” of the holiday.
His name is listed as the “sponsor” from 1991, first appearing in a publication called Chase’s Calendar of Events and is continued to be listed as its sponsor until 1996. When looking at that publication, David Earle’s video games day was initially listed as July 8, but was changed to July 12 in 1994, and again to September 10 in 1996.
So why is it now September 12? The first year Earle wasn’t listed as a sponsor in Chase’s Calendar of Events was 1997, and that’s when the date seemed to shift to September 12. The foundation suggests it may have been a typo or just a decision made by the minds at Chase. And the hunting then ends there with no reliable internet record of what Kid Video Warriors was and may have been – and David Earle remains an enigma of the strange internet past.
So when is National Video Games Day, really, and is it actually a holiday in which we should be thanking our parents? The short answer is eh? The Video Game History Foundation is confident both dates are actually the same day, and it’s only really a “holiday” because a man said it shall be – and so it shall be.
For even more internet oddities related to gaming, be sure to check out the Video Game History Foundation. They’re a non-profit dedicated to preserving video games and its history. Or, if you’re in the mood for even more video game (and play!) history, hit up The Strong Museum of Play.