History of Video Games

Videos games have shaped the media and the way that many youth look at the world today. Video games began with the invention of the computer and as technology has improved, so have the gaming systems and the games themselves. Classes based on the history behind video games, and theories about the structures of the games have been introduced into college curriculums. The rise of the gaming industry from a simple game such as Pong to the complex games with multi-faceted worlds is an interesting one. People working on them ran the first games on college mainframe computers. It was not until the 1970s that video games became available to the general public.


The first video game available to the public was Galaxy Game, an arcade style game, installed in the student lounge at Stanford. Within the year though game consoles had begun to be built and sold throughout the country. In 1972 the Magnavox Odyssey was the first released gaming console for use in your home. This was followed by the creation and release of Pong by Atari. The video game market suffered a setback in 1977 due to the over saturation of the market by other companies copying Pong. In the 1970s the game cartridge was introduced, allowing one console to be used to play a variety of games.


In the early 1980s the video game industry focused on arcade style games, and a wide variety of game styles were further refined, becoming genres, including role playing games, and first person shooter games. In 1986 the Nintendo Entertainment System was released which competed with the Atari gaming system, and Sega Master. The controllers for the games became much more universal in design and moved to a game pad instead of a large joystick that the other games in the past had used. Although handheld games were introduced in the early 1980s they did not catch on in popularity at this time. People who played games on personal computers began to play games online in the 1980s, although the graphics were initially poor.

One popular video game in the eighties was Pac Man. The side scrolling games which allowed designers to create more complex levels were introduced. These games were available as adventure games such as Super Mario Brothers, shooter games and fighter games. The Legend of Zelda was introduced in the 1980s, which continues to have a following as new games are released on the newer systems.


The 1990s brought a new round of gaming systems and introduced the PlayStation to the market. The graphics of the game improved a lot moving from 2-d to 3-d graphics, which gave the games a more realistic feel. The Nintendo Game boy was released in 1989 and it became popular, which led to other companies releasing competing handhelds. The fight for the game market was between the Nintendo, the PlayStation, Sega and Atari games. The game consoles fought for control of the market and issued licensing rights for the games to be released on the systems.

The games for the systems and computer games became more complex in design and in the way that the users interacted with the games. This is when gaming became part of the mainstream culture and games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil became popular.


As the gaming systems improved, so did the games. In 2001 Sony released the PlayStation 2, the X box was introduced by Microsoft, and the Nintendo came out with the Game Cube. Atari and Sega were not able to compete and dropped out of the game console market. Computer systems and online role-playing games became more popular as personal computers and graphic cards got better and the Internet became faster. Other types of games were introduced including a rhythm-based game called Dance Dance Revolution, which involved jumping on certain squares. It became popular with both arcade games and gaming consoles. Rock Band also introduced a game with instrument controllers such as the guitar and drums that involved keeping time with the rhythm to win.

The release of the PlayStation 3, the Wii by Nintendo along with X-box 360 changed the gaming industry again as the graphics drastically improved. The Nintendo Wii introduced a new type of controller that tracked the movement of the controller instead of pressing buttons. The Nintendo marketed itself more to families, and fell behind in the competition between the X-Box and PlayStation. Additionally online role playing games gained in popularity, the most well-known is World of Warcraft where people create characters and spend hours accumulating points and participating in adventures.