Video Game History: My! How Things Have Changed!

Video game history starts as far back as 1940. That is when the Westinghouse brand displayed a computer at the World’s Fair. The computer, which was the brainchild and design of Edward U. Condon, was stylized to play the classic game, Nim. Nim is a game where players try to be the last one to pick up a matchstick. Thousands of fair-goers played the game. However, the computer beat players in approximately 90% of the challenges.

Video Game History

Video Game History

By 1947, a patent was filed for cathode ray tube (CRT) device. The game, which featured an oscilloscope display, was the first computerized game where players fired a gun, aimed at a target.

Video Game History: Programming Chess

During 1950, Claude Shannon presented a basic guide for programming a computer for the game of chess. During that year, he and Alan Turing produced computerized chess programs.

In 1952, creator A.S. Douglas invented OXO for the computer. The game, otherwise known as Tic-Tac-Toe, was created as part of a research project that concerned human and computer engagement. Following on the heels of this invention was a blackjack program – written for an IBM-701 computer. The program was produced in Los Alamos, New Mexico – the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Warring became part of video game history when the US military introduced the game, Hutspiel in 1955. The game featured red and blue players who acted as Soviet and NATO commanders.

Anyone for Checkers?

In 1956, Arthur Samuel programmed the game of checkers on an IBM-701 – a game that would later defeat a master checkers player.

In 1958, Willy Higinbotham created a tennis game on an analog computer and oscilloscope for public display. The game, which was soon forgotten, was a forerunner of later video games, such as Pong.

By 1959, MIT students created Mouse in the Maze – a game that was adapted for MIT’s computer, the TX-0. The users first drew a maze, allowing a mouse to search the labyrinth for cheese.

In 1962, the first computer-based video game, Spacewar! was invented by MIT student, Steve Russell. During the next 10 years, the computerized game was played on computers across the US.

Video Games Played on TV

By 1966, Ralph Baer had devised the concept of playing a video game on TV. The following year Baer developed what was called a “Brown Box,” a video game model that permitted users to play games, such as tennis. Baer patented an interactive TV game in 1968, and in 1972, Magnavox introduced the home video game system, Odyssey – a system that was based on Baer’s game designs.

The year, 1972, also marked the development of an arcade table tennis game named Pong in video game history. Created by Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn of Atari, the arcade game was first introduced in Sunnyvale, California at Capps Tavern. However, the arcade game stopped working. So many people played the game that it became jammed with change. The home version of Pong debuted in 1975. The first devices were sold through the sporting goods department at retailer, Sears Roebuck.

Computer Role-playing

Computer role-playing was initiated in 1967 by the text-based game, Adventure. The game, which allowed players to escape to a world of imaginary treasures and caves, led to the creation of the role-playing game of Zork and similar game creations.

During 1977, Atari released its Video Computer System—the Atari 2600. The system, which featured color games, cartridges, and a joystick, served as the impetus for video gaming addictions. By 1978, Japanese game-players were participating in Taito’s Space Invaders game. In fact, the game was so popular, it led to a shortage of 100-yen coins. Inside of a year, Space Invaders had descended on the US in the form of 60,000 machines.

In 1979, Mattel introduced the Intellivision console. The console, which was an upgrade from the Atari 2600, highlighted enhanced graphics and sophisticated controls. About three million people bought the product.

The Introduction of Pac-Man

By 1980, Pac-Man appeared on the scene. It went on sale in July of that year. In addition, a version of the game, designed for the Atari 2600, became the first popular arcade game to be integrated on a home console. In 1982, Ms. Pac-Man, which gave women a voice in gaming, became the best-selling arcade video game ever.

Another marked occasion in video game history was the introduction of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, which happened in 1981. The game’s popular character Mario was first known as Jumpman.

The movie Tron, in 1982, was a Disney movie release that led to the creation an arcade game by the same name. The game, which featured many of the challenges from the cinema sensation, also, like the movie, became a hit in the entertainment marketplace.

Multi-player play was featured in the game M.U.L.E. in 1983. Players of the game competed to accumulate the most resources while attempting to save their colony on a planet called Irata. However, video games did not gain momentum again until 1985. At that time, the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES, was introduced to an ailing US market. It debuted in Japan in 1983 as Famicom.

Role-playing Games

In video game history, 1987 was considered a good year for role-playing games, like Legend of Zelda. A video game license was also obtained by SSI for Dungeons and Dragons. In 1988, computer games featured gridiron play in the form of John Madden Football. This game, and numerous other sequels, were popular sports sellers.

Handheld gaming came to the forefront in 1989. At that time, Nintendo’s Game Boy was introduced. However, it had been preceded by Microvision by Milton Bradley a decade earlier. The new Game Boy, though, was a more popular product as it was easy to use and featured an extended battery life.

Real time strategy gaming was established by the introduction of Westwood Studio’s Dune II. Gamers were required to pose as military leaders, each deploying his or her forces to defeat the enemy. During 1991, games, such as Mortal Kombat, led to hearings in the US about game violence. In turn, a video game rating system was introduced. During the same year, first person shooters were popularized in the game of Doom.

The Introduction of PlayStation

Another momentous occasion in video game history happened in 1995. During that year, Sony released PlayStation to the US market. The console, which sold for $100 less than the Sega Saturn, took command of the home console market. The debut of the Nintendo 64 in 1996 also affected Sega. When the PlayStation 2 debuted in 2000, it was considered the leader in the home console market. During that year, Sega stopped featuring home console products.

Controversy in the video game industry unfolded during 1996. At that time, Lara Croft was introduced as the protagonist in Tomb Raider, an adventure game. While players loved the character, critics took the stance that Lara was an example of sexism in video games.

Xbox Enters the Market

In 2001, Microsoft entered the video game market by introducing Xbox and associated hit games, such as Halo: Combat Evolved. By 2005, Xbox 360 had gained the support of millions of gamers, displaying advanced graphics and easy online play.

In 2004, Nintendo preserved it dominance in the handheld marketplace, highlighting its portable gaming system, the Nintendo DS. The system featured two processors, duo screens, and multiplayer capabilities. Popular games played on the system included Super Mario Kart DS.

The next year, high-definition play was introduced by way of Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Multiplayer play was emphasized on Xbox Live. By 2006, Nintendo Wii made gaming a more active pursuit. The system enabled gamers to utilize such features as motion-sensitive remotes.

MMO Video Game Play

In 2008, over 10 million people made World of Warcraft a best-selling massively multiplayer online (MMO) video game. MMOs produced virtual universes for players – universes where they learned and interacted with one another.

Games that rocked the game industry in 2009 included Angry Birds and Farmville. The games were played on such platforms as Facebook. Users of iPhones also enjoyed the video play.

During 2010, the indie game movement emerged with the creation of Minecraft, a brick-building game developed by Markus Persson of Sweden. Four years later, “free-to-play” became a game model in response to blockbuster sales of League of Legends, CrossFire, and World of Tanks.

As you can see from the above account, the video game industry has grown rapidly – both monetarily and technologically. What will the future hold! From all indications – exciting possibilities!


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