A Brief History of Gaming

The video game industry is one of the most profitable forms of entertainment today. You could also say it’s one of the fastest growing. Other entertainment mediums haven’t made huge leaps in technology like video games have over the years. Learn how we got to where we are today with a brief history of video games.

Spacewar!

The early days of video games hails from scientists in laboratories. Back in the 1950s, simple games such as OXO (Tic Tac Toe) and Tennis for two were created for gameplay on large analog computers. This then led to what is often cited as the first video game in 1962, Spacewar!

Steve Russell, Martin Graetz, and Wayne Wiitanen developed the video game for the DEC-PDP-1 Computer housed at MIT. Spacewar! set the stage for what would later come in terms of two player gameplay.

The First Consoles

After the exposure of Spacewar!, the home video game consoles we know of today started to find their place. Originally dubbed as the TV Game Unit #2, the “Pump Unit” from Ralph Baer and others at Sanders Associates, Inc. had the ability for two players to go up against each other in seven different games. Following a successful prototype run, they desired to turn it into a commercial product.

“The Brown Box” device allowed people to play games on a television via a box with a wood finish— hence its name. Baer and Sanders Associates, Inc. later licensed the first gaming console to Magnavox. This led to the device that would become known as the Magnavox Odyssey, which would go on to house 28 games.

The Magnavox Odyssey’s success launched Atari and Pong in 1972. Atari went on to release a version of Atari that every day people could play at home. Both versions of Pong were successful for Atari. Another successful game for Atari was Breakout, created by Steve Woznick and Steve Jobs. The company then released the Atari 2600 in 1977, which started the wave of next generation home video game consoles. The Atari 2600 came with joysticks and game cartridges that players could switch out.

Other popular video games that stood the test of time would follow suit. From the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s, the video game industry saw the release of Space Invaders, Namco’s Pac-Man, and Konami’s Frogger. With the booming success of video games, Nintendo entered the video game world by first licensing games for Odyssey in Japan. Nintendo would eventually start to make their own games with Donkey Kong and the first appearance of Mario.

Video Game Crash of ‘83

The video game industry became oversaturated, and it experienced a crash as a result. Many companies started to go bankrupt after putting out low quality games such as E.T., as it was rushed for a Christmas release and widely known as the worst video game of all time. The industry saw a 92% drop in revenue.

The video game industry would eventually get back on its feet in 1985 with the help of Nintendo’s Famicom from Japan. The video game console was remodeled as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) when it hit the United States. The NES gave gamers a much improved 8-bit gaming experience and launched iconic video game franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Other popular games, such as Final Fantasy, Mega Man, and Castlevania, from other developers made their way onto the console as well.

Rise of Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming on smartphones increases substantially every year, but it all began with Nintendo in 1989. When Nintendo was on top of the video game industry, they created the Game Boy. This took mobile gaming to new heights. Nintendo would continue to stay on top of the mobile gaming market with the releases of the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Switch.

Console Wars

In addition to Nintendo coming out with the Game Boy in 1989, Sega came out with the Sega Console. This was the start of the fourth generation consoles and the console wars. Sega saw great success with Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. Nintendo would then release their own 16-bit console called the Super Nintendo. The ‘90s also saw popular video game franchises expand into other mediums such as film with Super Mario BrosStreet Fighter, and Mortal Kombat.

The first generation of video games pushed the medium even further with three-dimensional graphics. Bits jumped from 16 to 32 in 1995 with the Sega Saturn. The console came out ahead of schedule with games on CDs to beat Sony’s release of the PlayStation in North America. Nintendo stuck with catrigers for their Nintendo 64 (64-bit) console that they released in 1996.

Sony would then take the top spot in the video game industry for several reasons. First, Sony offered exclusive games through third-party support. The early 2000s saw PlayStation 2, and it featured games on DVDs and the ability to play old PlayStation games on the new console. To this day, the PlayStation 2 is still the best-selling video game console of all time with 157.68 million consoles sold.

Gaming Today

At this point, Sega stopped putting out consoles after the Dreamcast, and in 2001, Nintendo released the GameCube while Microsoft entered the gaming industry with the Xbox. Today, the three giants in the video game console industry are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. 2005 and 2006 saw a new generation of gaming with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii.

Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offer similar features, but the Wii introduced a new style of video gameplay by incorporating physical movement. Microsoft later launched the Kinect in 2010, which utilized motion capture and no controller to play. Sony also released a similar type of physical gameplay with the PlayStation Move in 2010. Neither of the consoles stuck, and they both reverted back to traditional controller gameplay. The PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch are a part of the current console generation in addition to PC gaming. The next generation of gaming is on the horizon, as gaming companies start to invest in virtual reality.

Given how seductive the gaming experience can be today, you can easily spend many hours in front of a computer or TV screen. Without pro gaming style computer glasses, your eyes could be in serious danger. Avoid eye strain and other harms by trying a high-quality pair of gaming glasses from Glassy.

A Brief History of Gaming infographic