A Brief Look Into The History of Gaming!
The Ghost of Gaming Past…
Sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at the past. Since the humble beginnings of gaming with Tennis For Two, to the current landscape of modern warfare shooters and the advancement of games as an art-form, gaming has become an increasingly important part of everyday life. Irrespective of whether this is a good or bad thing, it is important to acknowledge the steps taken along the way, and equally as important to learn from our own history. Here is a list of the most important and influential advances in gaming over the decades.
It all began with William Higinbotham and the oscilloscope with Tennis for Two. Although not commercially available, it was the first program of its type to allow player-computer interaction on a scale previously unheard of. Noted as the precursor to Pong, Tennis for Two saw players bounce a ball to each other over a net, where the ball was affected by gravity. The controller was suitably minimalistic, featuring only a small joystick and a button. This simple design would shape the way for millions of possibilities to come.
This was the decade of beginnings. The first home consoles started to show themselves, and arcade machines began to poke up in shops and cafes. 1972 was the year that the iconic classic, Pong was released, and it brought video games into the mainstream. The other notable arcade release was Space Invaders in 1978, which really took off and is still well regarded and reproduced today.
One of the most important console releases in gaming’s history also sprung up in the 70s, with the Atari 2600. With the combined popularity and a port of Space Invaders in 1978, sales were huge, and a lot of great games came from the console’s life.
The 80s are probably the most important era in video game history, because it was when the potential for gaming became realized and it became a cultural phenomenon. Arcades became the local hangout spot for teenagers around the globe, and machines with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong created a competitive scene with their high-score mechanics.
At home, gamers now had access to huge releases on their shiny new consoles. Atari, Nintendo and Sega all dominated the console scene, and classic games such as Tetris, Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda were all released to massive acclaim. These would be genre-defining games and would last the test of time and continue to be played more than 20 years after their release.
The first major success in the portable gaming market, the Game Boy, also saw release at the end of the decade, and through its various iterations would become a massive success.
The 90s was an advancement from the foundations set during the 80s. Technology was improving at a rapid rate, and the power of both consoles and home computers rose dramatically. The Sony Playstation would prove to be a massive hit in 1994, and would bring with it major releases like Final Fantasy 7. In 1996, Nintendo released its most groundbreaking console with the Nintendo 64 and games such as Goldeneye 007 and Ocarina of Time.
2000 – 2005
The new century marked the start of the console war between the “Big 3”. Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance and Gamecube, both targeting a generally younger market, with games such as Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire, and Super Smash Brothers. Not to mean the Gamecube couldn’t cater for the parents either, with Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime being relatively mature games for the console, yet still achieving success.
Sony released the Playstation 2, which was a more powerful piece of kit with an equally meaty game selection. Major releases included Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, The God of War series, Jak and Daxter series, and the Grand Theft Auto series. There were also several ‘interpretative’ and ‘artsy’ games released on the PS2, with Okami, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico all meeting a surprisingly good reception in the gaming community.
Microsoft saw potential in the games market and released the Xbox, and one of gaming’s best franchises, Halo. The most popular Xbox games were most notably the Halo series, with its second iteration selling thousands of Xbox Live subscriptions by itself, but games like Splinter Cell, Fable, and Jade Empire were also quality releases.
Nintendo also sneaks in the release of its best selling console, the Nintendo DS, which breeds an entirely new generation of gamers.
The console war ramps up with the release of the Xbox 360, followed by the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii. Each console had their own highs and lows. Most notably, The Xbox360 featured a paid subscription service for playing any form of online multiplayer. This split the gaming community in half as games became more reliant on internet availability and a shift away from traditional split-screen play was made.
Online multiplayer became a foundation of game design with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The game was so ridiculously popular that it redefined the entire First Person Shooter genre, as well as being the primary reason behind a LOT of live subscriptions on the Xbox360.
For the more casual gaming enthusiasts, the introduction of online bingo, poker, and even casinos (www.partycasino.com) became widely available to the low-end pc users which allow you to gamble online with real money. Conceptually, you could win a jackpot online and it would be treated the same as if you went to the casino. This became a giant appeal for those looking to make some extra cash from a gaming setting. Most of these games were browser based so it wouldn’t require any extra effort from the players aside from signing up an account.
Home computers also saw a rise in popularity with the mainstream success of Steam and game downloading services. The widespread availability of the internet introduced thousands of personal computer users to online gaming, and casual games began to spring up on social media sites, bringing in another group of gamers.
Games are becoming an increasingly important part of our society, and the next generation of consoles will be the deciding factor on how popular the format will be destined to become. Home computers are becoming more and more powerful, and the potential is enormous. Who knows what the next few years will hold, but brace yourself for one hell of a ride!