History of Video Games: How it Evolved?

By Rupali Sharma

According to a saying, a generation which ignores history has neither past nor future. Therefore, we’ll try to comprehend the history of Video Games and how drastically the gaming industry has evolved.

Children enjoy video games because they prepare them for life, and adults enjoy them to escape reality. In recent decades, almost every aspect of life has moved into the digital world. As of 2021, there will be 3.24 billion players across the globe, whether on their mobile phones, their consoles or their computers. 

So, what’s the harm in knowing history? In this blog post, we’ll be talking about the evolution of video games from Arcades to Consoles. Let’s first start by knowing its early history.

Table of Contents

Beginnings (1948-1970)

Video games have a long history that stems from the evolution of computers. In 1950, computer scientists created Bertie the Brain, a tic tac toe game system, using electronic machines. In the past, these systems were mainly used as demonstration systems at large exhibitions to showcase the power of computers. Tennis for Two was another early demonstration, which used an analogue computer and an oscilloscope for its display. 

The first widely known video game that benefited from wide distribution was Spacewar. The PDP-1 mainframe computer was created in 1961. It allowed two players to simulate space combat on the PDP-1’s relatively simplistic monitor. As MIT students moved across the country, the source code of the game was shared with other institutions running PDP-1s.

Video Game Machine (1970s)

In the early 1970s, students played around with increasingly compact computer systems. Atari was established in 1972. In addition to dominating the video game industry over the next decade, this company also created the first-ever global hit game, Pong. As with its predecessor, Tennis for Two, Pong’s playing principle is very similar, and it couldn’t be easier. This game has the same instructions: ‘Avoid missing balls for high scores.’ In this game too, players try to hit a ball that is no more than a pixel over a line. Even though the idea for the game was not new, Atari integrated the computer and a display into a box with a coin slot, thus inventing the video game machine. For the first time, a video game was affordable for a wider audience.

It was with Space Invaders (1978) that the golden age of arcades began when teenagers in the 1980s gambled their pocket money away on video game machines. With Apple’s founding in 1976 and the creation of microprocessors before this, computer technology had advanced significantly. More than 30 million people bought the Atari 2600 home console launched in 1977, which was not restricted to just one game, thanks to interchangeable cassettes, but offered a theoretically unlimited number of games.

The games had very simple graphics and narratives. The game included levels, which became increasingly challenging as the game progressed, and points systems. A continuous rankings list proves a source of fame for players who attempt to beat the high score. As a result, simple games remained exciting over time.

Speed Breaker (1980s)

There are many classic games that can still be enjoyed today that came out in the 1980s, such as Pac-Man (1980), Ultima (1980), Mario Bros (1983), Tetris (1984) and SimCity (1989). The market was flooded with countless new consoles at the start of the decade as well as ever cheaper and more powerful home computers.

  • Video Game Crash (1983)

In 1983, the video game industry suffered a large-scale downturn, also known as Atari shock in Japan. The console market had collapsed. Several companies went bankrupt, including games pioneer Atari. Atari released E.T. (1982), still considered the worst video game of all time due to its crude graphics and complicated gameplay.

There were several factors contributing to the crash, including increased market saturation, flooded console market, loss of publishing control and poor quality games. Moreover, console games fell out of favor in favor of computer games.Commodore emerged from the ashes of the industry in 1982 with its Commodore 64 home computer, and Nintendo emerged in 1985 with the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES as it’s called.

With enhanced technologies, games moved into new realms; gameplay and graphics improved. The stories behind the games became more complex. This period gave rise to the majority of genres we know today. Even highly motivated users could program their own games for the Commodore 64. In the 1980s, children and teenagers spent hours in front of their computers or consoles, and with the release of the Game Boy, they continued playing well into the night by torchlight.

A New Perspective (1990s)

The games industry had grown up along with the first generation of players. In the second half of the decade, video games entered a new dimension, with their graphics becoming three-dimensional. Players could now move in three directions instead of two. The game worlds appeared more realistic and provided more complex gameplay options. 

As the market grew, console and game manufacturers competed for a piece. It was a quantum leap in terms of technology and graphics compared to the existing consoles when Sony released the PlayStation in 1994. More innovative ideas were coming from game studios, and history was often used as inspiration for gameplay: in Age of Empires (1997), gamers built entire civilizations, and in Command & Conquer (1995), they waged war. As part of Tomb Raider (1996), they sought historical artefacts with Lara Croft; in Monkey Island (1990), they sought pirate treasure.

Additionally, violence became increasingly a part of the gaming industry in the 1990s, in addition to gameplay action. ‘First-person shooters’ emerged in 1992 with Wolfenstein 3D. These games feature a player using a weapon to kill off his or her opponents from a first-person perspective. As a society, we began asking whether violence in video games leads to violence in real life. The debate continues to this day.

Games such as NH ’94, WWF Wrestle Mania 2000, or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater are among those of the best games of the 1990s that are still being recognized for their unique gameplay variations today. In this era, games took on a more realistic quality by trying to be as close as possible to real life as possible.

Online Gaming (2000s)

Gamers were able to get together at LAN parties in the early millennium because the internet was not robust enough or widely used enough to allow people to play against each other online. A local network was set up for players to play against one another into the early hours or all night long using their own computers. Those parties were especially popular with the sometimes controversial game Counter-Strike (2000), in which players took on the role of terrorists or members of anti-terror units and used tactical manoeuvres to eliminate one another. 

Nevertheless, as internet usage increased exponentially, gaming also went online. World of Warcraft (2004) was one of the first games mainly played on the internet. As the decade progressed, technology additionally developed. As graphics technology evolved, video game worlds became more realistic. Artificial intelligence made it so the simulated opponents no longer behaved the same way no matter what was going on. 

A new genre of video games has emerged in which players can explore imaginary worlds on their own and freely direct the game’s course. Or they can create their own virtual world, or ‘sandbox’, as in a sandpit. There were many bestsellers during this decade, among them The Sims (2000), Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004), Super Mario Galaxy (2007) and Minecraft (2010).

Play Anytime (2010s)

The video game industry has become a billion-dollar business in the past decade, with profits that surpass those of the film and music industries. Numerous independent studios have developed video games for every type of platform, including computers, consoles, tablets, and smartphones. In response, more and more people are playing video games regularly. And gone are the days when video games were only played by children and teens. 

Older people are also discovering puzzles and skill-based games on their mobile phones. If you have a spare moment on the train, waiting for the bus, or before going to sleep, you can play a game. Compulsive gaming is nothing new, but with smartphones becoming more widespread, the number of addicts is growing. Nonetheless, gaming is a harmless form of entertainment for the majority of players. A game like Red Dead Redemption 2 (2019) provides hours of gaming fun as well as a different course depending on the player’s choices, thanks to sophisticated dialogues and emotionally compelling storylines. 

Video games, which can be played over and over again, are available for PCs, PlayStations, and Xboxes. Another phenomenon of this decade is what is called Let’s play videos. Game players record themselves while playing a game, commenting on it as it unfolds and giving tips. The videos are then uploaded to YouTube and Twitch, where they receive millions of views.

Virtual World (2020s)

With the advent of technological developments, video games are going from pale dots on a screen to colourful pixels and hyper-realistic 3D graphics. What will the video games of the future look like? Virtual reality has already made it possible for gamers to immerse themselves almost completely in a game, but this technology has a long way to go. In the gaming industry, the future will be defined by higher resolution graphics, tactile controllers, and lighter devices.

Words of Wisdom

It is said that without knowing the past we can’t speculate about the future. Because history repeats. We hope this post has helped every budding game dev who foresees his future in the industry. Keep learning more through our industry-oriented courses. Till then Gamify Your World!!

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