The evolution of video games
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The Evolution of Video GamesBy: Jose Quintero
The Origin of The Video GameIn 1951, Ralph Baer, a 27-year-old TV engineer, was asked by his boss to build the best television set in the world, and thus created the concept of playing games on a television. Since then, he started making prototypes of his invention, therefore, he has been credited as the inventor of the video game.One year later, the first playable video game, simply named OXO (aka Noughts and Crosses), was an electronic version of Tic-Tac-Toe created by Alexander S. Douglas for an EDSAC (see below). It was originally written for a Ph.D. thesis on human-computer interaction for the University of Cambridge and is the first game to run on a computer. Then in 1958, physicist William Higinbotham developed a type of tennis/ping-pong simulator, known as Tennis for Two, on an analog computer. Tennis for Two was considered to be the predecessor of the popular arcade game, Pong.OXO (Noughts and Crosses)Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC)Tennis for Two
1st GenerationAfter Baer approached various TV manufacturing companies to submit his idea, Magnavox made an agreement with Baer to develop a television game device, and produced the Magnavox Odyssey (the first ever home game console). The arcade gaming scene had slowly began when Nolan Bushnell created the first coin operated game, Computer Space (based on an earlier game, Spacewar!), but was a complete failure. After Bushnell witnessed a demo for the Odyssey, he hired Al Alcorn after he founded Atari Inc. and produced an arcade port of a ping-pong game on the Odyssey, called Pong in 1972. Pong became a commercial success in the early 70s, but since the idea was taken from the Odyssey version without Magnavoxs consent, Atari was later sued and had to pay licensing fees to the company as a result. Atari paved the way to up and coming gaming innovations in the coming years.Magnavox OdysseyPongPong (Home Console)
2nd GenerationCartridge-based consoles have made a return after the surge of stand alone Pong consoles. In 1976, the Fairchild Channel F was the first system to include a Central Processing Unit (CPU) built in, but its appeal only lasted for about 3 years. Then in 1977, Atari released their first cartridge-based game console, the Atari 2600, and it dominated the gaming market for a good 6 years with a span of 15 (longer than any other system).Arcades have been popping up in many metropolitan areas, with the growing popularity various titles, such as Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders. Many other consoles have been competing against the 2600, such as the Magnavox Odyssey, Mattel Intellivision, Milton Bradley Vectrex, ColecoVision, and Sega SG-1000 (the first Japanese produced game console). Even though the industry had barely began, its recent bloom of newer games and consoles caused a brief & temporary downfall.Atari 2600Sega SG-1000Pac-Man
U.S. Video Game Crash of 1983Also known as the video game crash of 1984, due to decreased consumer interest in video games during that year. The mass market competition of consoles, and low-quality games (such as the Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man) caused many developing companies to file for bankruptcy due to the lack of sales. There had been many factors to these failures, but the most common were the flood of other systems on the market like the Atari 5200, Fairchild Channel F System II, Coleco Gemini, and computer consoles, like the Commodore 64.The increased console selection left consumers with a dilemma over whats best to buy. Though the Atari 2600 had a fair selection of games at the time, most of them were too repetitive, and in some cases, have became lacking in quality (for example, E.T. for the Atari 2600, which is considered to be one of the worst video games of all-time). Everything went downhill for game companies until in 1985, when a new console from outside the States would later change the world of gaming and resurrect the industry.Commodore 64Pac-Man (Atari 2600 version)E.T.
3rd GenerationThe video game industry was back on its feet after the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (or the NES) on October 18th, 1985, surprising gamers with its superior graphics, simple controls, and the best games to ever grace the system, such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Contra, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Bomberman, Metroid, Castlevania, and much more. From there on, the rest of the competition was swept away, but in Japan, Nintendo and Sega (with its Master System) have been going at it, neck and neck in both game and system sales.It was at this point in time that video games have been used and/or referenced in mainstream media, for example, video game-themed TV shows such as The Super Mario Super Show, and Buckner & Garcias 1982 pop single Pac-Man Fever. Gaming went from a childhood fad to a worldwide phenomenon in a matter of years. Soon, a new, but short-lived, console sheds new light into the next generation by multiplying 8-bit graphics by two.Nintendo Entertainment SystemMega ManSega Master System
4th GenerationIn August 1989, a new console came onto the scene with a newly developed 16-bit Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), the NEC TurboGrafx-16. The Sega Genesis had also been released in the same year and month with both 16-bit CPU and GPU chips, which makes graphics and gameplay run better than both the NES and TG-16 at the time, until in 1991, Nintendo moved away from its 8-bit roots, and released the Super Nintendo (or SNES). The SNES impacted the console industry with its arcade-like graphics, high quality sound, and had a larger library of games than the Genesis. Arcades were still going strong after the release of Street Fighter II, one of the most influential fighting games of all-time, and was such a huge success, it was ported to many consoles, including the Super Nintendo. Mortal Kombat made its debut a year after Street Fighter came out, and its voilent content led organizations and companies to create a rating system for each game thats released.Sega also had a following with its Genesis, games like Sonic The Hedgehog, Strider, Phantasy Star II, Gunstar Heroes, and Shinobi were huge hits on the console. A year later, in 1992, in a way to compete with the SNES, Sega released the Sega CD (a CD add-on for the Genesis). It enhanced the Genesis with slightly improved graphics performance, audio CD music, and full motion video capabilities. Only a decent amount of Sega CDs games succeeded, such as Mortal Kombat, Final Fight, Lunar, and the critically-acclaimed, Sonic CD. But the Sega CD didnt receive much praise from game critics, and and the later failed, 32X add-on, led gamers to convert to the Super Nintendo, giving Nintendo the lead advantage.
4th Generation (Part 2)The Super Nintendo was on a roll in the early 90s, with its big name hits such as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat II, Street Fighter II Turbo, and StarFox (the first full 3D game on the SNES). While 3D arcade games were all the rage, both Sega & Nintendo were also working on a new 3D gaming system, and a popular Japanese tech company has also joined in on the console fray.TurboGrafx-16Sega Genesis w/ Sega CDSuper Nintendo
5th GenerationThough there were 3 earlier consoles that moved onto 3D gaming, none were as great as these three newcomers. In 1995, Sega had moved one dimension higher with the new Saturn and Sony arrived on the gaming scene with the PlayStation. Both consoles had advanced 3D graphics and a higher storage medium (with the use of compact discs), but the Saturn, at the time, seemed to emphasize more on 2D games and arcade ports rather than original/full 3D games like the PlayStation. A year later, Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64, along with Super Mario 64.The Saturn was the first to discontinue in 1998, so Nintendo and Sony were the main contenders. The PlayStation was the highest selling console at the time, and had a variety of hit titles, like Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Resident Evil, and Crash Bandicoot. The N64 also had its share of popular games such as, GoldenEye 007, F-Zero X, Mario Kart 64, Yoshis Story, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (receiving the highest review score average than any game). Sega would soon return with a new system that would give gamers a taste of realism.Sega SaturnSony PlayStationNintendo 64
6th GenerationSega released the Dreamcast on September 1999, and gamers were stunned when they had a glimpse at its high-resolution graphics, and realistic gameplay. The Dreamcast was the first console to commercially introduce online gameplay, which enabled people with a 56k dial-up connection to compete against friends around the world. Then the PlayStation 2 arrived on October 2000, and its mass appeal and sales outnumbered the Dreamcast and eventually seized production in 2001. Though it was short-lived, the Dreamcast left behind a legacy in the gaming world.The PlayStation 2 started off well with the addition of DVD playback and a few early titles, like Tekken Tag Tournament, Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Gran Turismo 3. The PS2 had beaten its predecessor [the PlayStation] in number of worldwide sales by 38 million (140 million units in total sales), and a highly controversial game was the cause of the increased sales. A year later, Grand Theft Auto III was released on the PS2 and once again led to more controversey amongst violent content in videos games.In 2001, Nintendo produced the Gamecube, then Microsoft got into the console war with their Xbox console. The Gamecube went for a family-friendly approach with games, like Luigis Mansion, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, and Metroid Prime, while the Xbox was targeting a more mature demographic with Project Gotham Racing, Amped, Dead or Alive 3, and their benchmark title, Halo. Both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox were on par in terms of quality, but the Gamecube was just standing behind the crowd.
6th Generation (cont.)In 2002, Microsoft launched the Xbox Live online service, and after the release of Halo 2, it became the largest online gaming community in the world. In the same year, Sony released a Network Adapter for the PlayStation 2, though it wasnt as popular as the Xbox Live, SOCOM: Navy Seals was the most played PlayStation 2 network game. As television technology has progressed, video games have now made its huge step into the new generation.Sega DreamcastPlayStation 2Nintendo GamecubeMicrosoft Xbox
7th Generation / Present DayOn November 22, 2005, Microsoft had launched their latest Next-Generation console, the Xbox 360. The booming sales of High-Definition TV sets was the inspiration for Microsofts new HD gaming system, and was finally able to produce life-like quality graphics, specially made for HDTV sets. A year later, in 2006, Sony released the PlayStation 3 with its high-end Cell Broadband Engine for higher detailed graphics and Blu-Ray movie playback. The Cell microprocessor, 1080p HD compatibility and Blu-Ray disc format gave developers the leading edge to give PS3 players a unique gameplay experience than that of the 360.In the same year, Nintendo broke new ground in the industry with the Nintendo Wii. Its interactive motion-sensing controls and family-oriented audience gained attention from many common consumers. The popularity of the Nintendo Wii made it the best selling console of this generation (selling around 400,000 more than than the Xbox 360), and its games, such as Wii Sports (bundled with the console), The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and downloadable Virtual Console games made it the prime winner of the Next-Gen era.Xbox 360Nintendo WiiPlayStation 3
ConclusionFrom dots and blips to polygons and textures, whether youre basting off Galaga bugs in the arcades, or jamming out with friends on Rock Band, these innovations have brought gaming to the masses over the years. Who knew that one simple concept of interacting with a TV would evolve to an alternative medium of entertainment (with the affordability of games during this economic crisis)? The video game industry has a bright future ahead.