Back in 1961, a talented team of programmers led by Steve “Slug” Russell developed the world’s first video game: Spacewar. A lot has changed since then, but the basics of making a good video game are the same as they were in the 1960s.
Of course, since it was running on a DEC PDP-1 computer, not many people played Spacewar. For most people, including myself, the first introduction to the world of video games was Space Invaders, released in 1978.
The Space Invaders were designed and developed by Toshihiro Nishikado while he was working for the Japanese Taito Corporation. Although Space Invaders was a simple game with simple graphics, it was a huge success. The reason for this was “gameplay”, which is probably the most important aspect of any PC game. Without it, the game is unlikely to be successful. Even today (2012), the incredible sophistication of video available to game developers cannot replace a good old game.
It is interesting to note that in Space Invaders, Nishikado originally planned to use tanks or planes as an attacking force, but the computers of the time were too slow to allow tanks to turn and move smoothly, so familiar aliens were used instead. Nishikado could have used humans instead of aliens, but he felt it would be morally wrong.
In the 1980s, arcade games became very popular in places like pubs, bars, hotels, etc. These games were generally not free, and I remember spending more money on games than on beer! Companies such as Atari have dominated the gaming market since the late 1970s, and the 1980s were initially a boom period for companies in the industry. However, within a decade, the market was flooded, quite often with low quality games, and by the end of the decade, the industry had largely collapsed.
However, a new phenomenon appeared on the scene – small portable devices such as Nintendo’s GameBoy began to become popular and will play an important role in the gaming industry to this day.
During the 1990s, the video game industry saw a gradual transition from two-dimensional (2D) graphics to more realistic and visually pleasing 3D graphics. This decade also saw the emergence of new game genres such as first-person shooter, real-time strategy, survival horror, and MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online).
Handheld games continued to gain popularity throughout the decade. Although arcade games were still quite popular in the early 1990s, the use of home consoles gradually pushed them out of the market. And, of course, the 1990s saw the invention of the World Wide Web, which revolutionized the gaming industry over the next decade.
The home video market in the 2000s was a decade dominated by companies such as Sony, Nintendo and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft. In the 1980s and 1990s, Sega was Nintendo’s main competitor, but in 2002 the company left the console market, returning to the third-party company they once were. The gradual increase in computing power of computers from the 1990s to the 2000s has allowed developers to create immersive and interactive game environments, creating a more realistic and enjoyable game environment.
Influence of the World Wide Web
In the early days of the Internet in the mid-1990s, a combination of a lack of computing power and low transfer rates meant that online gaming did not exist. As computers became more powerful and data transfer speeds increased in the 2000s, online gaming gradually became more popular. Technologies such as Flash have made it quite easy to develop complex games. These games can then be integrated or embedded into web pages and run in a web browser.
Apart from traditional games such as driving, adventure, action, puzzle or shooting games, the gambling industry has become a huge winner thanks to the Internet. Online gambling and gaming websites are extremely popular and provide an easy way for adults to get involved in gambling. Strict laws in many countries ensure that sites are properly regulated.
There are also many sites that offer free casino games that use virtual money so there is no financial risk to participate in the games, many of which allow you to play with other people around the world.
Video games can offer a little entertainment for a few minutes, or they can offer almost complete immersion – and just about everything in between. The evolution of video games since Steve Russell’s Space War has been impressive. Who knows what the future holds?