The Life and Times of Video Games

As hard as it is to imagine, there were games long before you and I walked this earth. “Started from the bottom, and now we’re here” and all that. Today, I will take you on a journey across history. Here is a brief history of video games.

The Humble Beginnings

People started with experimenting as early as the 1950s. There were no joypads, graphics, or other things we take for granted (I just realized I sound like my Grandma. Weird flex, but okay). Basically, the eggheads at universities toyed around with the computers in order to create simulations, but also for their own amusement. Thus, the games were born.

The first game we could call a game was Spacewar! in 1962. It was made using a TX-0 computer that the Lincoln Laboratory donated to MIT, where the students were allowed to conduct their own research using it, as it was able to process commands in real time. The game featured two spaceships battling it out.

The First Console

Spacewar! paved the way for further development of video game entertainment. Raph Baer worked on a game system that could be plugged into the TV and change the way the dots moved on it. This was his area of expertise since he was a television engineer. After several years of working on this project, he found a way to get three spots to appear on the screen, where they could simulate a game of tennis. The system became commercially available as Magnavox Odyssey.

Congratulations! You’ve just met the predecessor of Pong! In fact, Magnavox sued Atari for copyright infringement when Pong! was released. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

Arcade Games

It was in the late 70s and early 80s that the world got to know the classics like Galaxian, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. The games slowly pushed out pinball machines and older arcade games. Video games were becoming more and more popular.

Home Consoles

Magnavox Odyssey kept pushing until it became Phillips Odyssey in 1978, but Atari still remained on the market. Here, however, we see the emergence of a giant we know and love – Nintendo. Nintendo Color TV Game Series released four games, one of which was their own Pong! clone. It also had a driving game.

The Snowballing

This isn’t a name for a game (or it could be, not sure), but a reference to how fast the changes were happening now. Apple II, followed by Macintosh, along with Atari ST and Commodore Amiga – they were the gaming machines before the Nintendo Entertainment System console which revived the struggling video game market. Sega also threw its hat into the ring. Remember Sega, Sonic’s company?

The consoles started evolving and competing, with Sony releasing its first PlayStation console in 1994, just before Nintendo 64. They were among the first that developed from 2D platform games to 3D models, as clunky as they were compared to today’s graphics. Pretty soon, online play became widely spread for PC users.

Today, as far as games are concerned, we have 3 big veterans: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, though with the emergence of VR and AR, along with mobile apps, games have spread out to other electronic devices as well.