The History of Video Games (Part 1) HomeGeneralThe History of Video Games (Part 1)
Today we’re going to talk about the history of video games (Part 1) and how they’ve evolved from just a tool to the largest entertainment industry in the world.
50s: The first games
The journey of electronic games came too soon. With the development of the first computers, one of the most effective ways to demonstrate their skills was by creating interactive games with humans. This is how games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Naval Warfare, among others, came about.
At the time, computers were much larger than a dining room, making them impossible to commercialize. However, the games were very successful at supercomputer exhibition fairs.
60s: Spacewar, the first shooter
Technological evolution was in full swing in the 1960s! Computers now used transistors instead of tubes, and to prove the power of these technologies, games were once again the weapons. Steve Russell and some colleagues have developed a game in which the player controls two spaceships and has to torpedo each other. The game did very well and in 1961 they created Spacewar which is considered to be the first shooting game.
The big difference is that it was well-received in the universities, which inspired many academic minds in the years that followed.
70s: The first home consoles
Although the games attracted attention, they were huge and required a lot of investment. Thus, access was only possible at universities.
Despite these difficulties, Ralph Baer and Magnavox (a subsidiary of Philips in the Netherlands) released the first gaming console, the Odyssey 100. Around the same time, Nolan Bushnell adapted Spacewar for another console, still large but adapting to operations only this game would adapt and could be commercialized. This is how arcades were born.
With that in mind, Bushnell created a company called Computer Space, but eventually left to form Atari, a company that played a key role in the world of video games.
The 70’s were incredible for table games and arcades (or arcades here in Brazil) and Atari, which produced arcades, grew to become the largest company in this segment. This started several others investing in electronic games. These new companies created new consoles and arcades, so it was so common to see the same games on different consoles.
In addition, the secrets within the games, the so-called Easter Eggs, began at this time. Since Atari gave no credit to the games’ creators, they offered an opportunity to put their own names in the game in protest. The credits seemed to be hidden in some hard-to-reach scenarios so players would know who made the game in the future.
80s: Nintendo dominates the world
Video games took over the world in the early 1980s. Sales (in the United States alone) exceeded $5 billion. Namco published Pac-Man, the most famous arcade game in history, and Atari created Battlezone, the first 3D game.
In Battlezone, the player controls tanks in a war scenario, and the army even ordered an improved version of the game for military training! Also, the creators of the games finally started earning credits, as well as everyone involved in the production.
During this time, Nintendo was reformulated, from a card company to a video game producer. Also, she decided to go against the grain and focus on quality games as opposed to the others who were more interested in delivering quantity games.
As a result, she begins creating new games, such as Donkey Kong (by Shigeru Miyamoto), which gave birth to the company’s most famous character, Mario. His first appearance was in Donkey Kong as the hero and was made as a tribute to the owner of the shed used by the company, who closely resembled the character.
crisis in the industry
In 1984 the gaming industry was in crisis. In addition to the increase in sales of PCs that also contained games, the low quality of console games released at that time did not help. In addition, the marketing of games was very false and promised technological innovations when most companies were only recycling games.
This is when Nintendo started to become a giant. With the NES (or Famicom in the East) the company showcased quality and innovation and quickly became the only company with real quality in games.
The competitors’ games were so inferior that Nintendo sold ten times as much as the runner-up. Trucks loaded with Atari cartridges were buried in New Mexico, and the games’ bad reputation was so great that to enter the American market, Nintendo had to promise to buy back all of its consoles if they weren’t sold. But that wasn’t necessary as the company released hit after hit, including Bomberman, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Castlevania and others.
The company was even accused of monopoly by Atari, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.
90s: The Console Wars
Nintendo continued its reign and released Super Mario Bros 3, easily the best-selling game in the company’s history. Soon after, the company launched the Super NES, or Super Nintendo, here in Brazil. The console was 16-bit, twice that of its predecessor, and featured the famous Super Mario World. The launch of the console caused gigantic queues in front of the specialist shops. Meanwhile, Sega stuck to some good releases like Sonic and The Hedgehod on the Mega Drive, but the lack of titles kept tipping those scales more and more.
In 1992, Sony proposed a peripheral for the NES that would enhance the Super Nintendo’s graphics and sound capabilities and allow it to play games in CD format. The two companies begin work on the project, but following a statement from Nintendo that it would be collaborating with Philips on a platform compatible with the CD-i console, Sony felt cheated and abandoned the project despite it being in the final phase was . She then decides to start developing her own console and in the same year CAPCOM launches Street Fighter II in Arcades, one of the most important games in history.
The rise of the PlayStation
In 1994, Sony launched the Playstation, which, despite being a newcomer, was widely accepted by the public. In addition, it relies on games with 3D graphics, CD media and rampant piracy. The console debuted in the top 3 sales that year, only second to the Sega Saturn, which had a huge investment in marketing and a much bigger brand. On the other hand, Sony even managed to beat Nintendo’s new console, the Nintendo 64, which was more powerful but still used cartridges and at the time struggled with few games and almost no piracy.
This brings us to the 2000s and the sixth generation of consoles. This is where things get even more complex as market giants fall and new consoles battle their way to the top of the video game world with questionable strategies. We will continue this in a next article.
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