Video games have been around for a long time, and their history is tied to how technology has changed over the last few decades. There is some disagreement about which was the first video game, but there are examples from as far back as the 1950s.
Early titles were specifically just simple shapes and patterns on a screen. They were made to run on either high-end supercomputers used in universities or arcade machines that were made just for this purpose.
As technology has improved, so has the video gaming industry, shaping what we know and love today.
Early Development – Better Graphics, Bigger Games
In the 1970s, the development of home consoles such as the Atari 2600 made video games more accessible to the general public and sparked the current gaming industry. The introduction of personal computers in the 1980s broadened the market and prompted the development of increasingly sophisticated games.
However, titles from this era still appear primitive. Pac-Man, for example, was a massive hit among gamers, but it was still a 2D maze made of single-color lines with some coloured blobs running after a yellow circle.
With the technology of 3D graphics and the rise of internet gaming, the ’90s marked a watershed decade in significant development (though this would remain a niche area for a while).
This spawned a number of brand-new subgenres of video games, the most famous of which being the first-person shooter. In these first-world, third-person, and first-person-third-person 3D titles, players were able to participate actively rather than merely watching.
This development also made the size of games, allowing players to explore what began to feel like living, breathing worlds. For example, the original Grand Theft Auto packed in three entire cities, complete with traffic and pedestrians who appeared to go about their business as you moved around.
Online Gaming Brings Players Closer Together
In the past, playing video games with another player required you to be in the same room. It was not the most convenient way to chat with friends or meet new people in an arcade.
Unless you had multiple computers or game consoles in the same room, multiplayer gaming would require split-screen mode or taking turns, neither of which provide the optimal experience.
In addition, if you enjoyed playing a particular kind of video games, you may not have any friends who share your enthusiasm.
But the advent of the internet has altered this. Naturally, online games have a long history, with Adventure, a text-based game created in the 1970s, widely accepted as the first. Internet publishers in the 1980s began more sophisticated online titles such Island of Kesmai and Meridian 59. While online gaming had been around for a while, it begann’t become a mainstream phenomenon until the 2000s.
Millions of users now sign in every day to compete against their friends and total strangers in games like Words with Friends and World of Warcraft.
Not all multiplayer experiences take place in online games. Game developers and publishers now have more options for monetizing their products, including microtransactions, thanks to the widespread availability of the internet.
Streaming and Esports
In the recent few years, internet speeds and latency have improved even better, opening the gaming industry even more opportunities to change. Streaming has been one of the most important changes.
Streaming refers to the act of transmitting live video content via the internet, such as gameplay or other video game-related content. Typically, this is accomplished using platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer, which allow users to watch live streams or watch recordings at a later time.
Providing a new platform for players to share their gameplay with others and establish a community around their favourite games is one of the most significant ways in which streaming has impacted video games.
Some companies include streaming directly into the games themselves. For instance, PokerStars’ Home Games platform enables players to create their own private poker club where they and their friends may compete while employing streaming technology for video conferencing. This improves the poker experience by bringing psychological components such as bluffing and body language reading to the forefront of the online game.
Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Nvidia have all developed platforms that stream complete games to a user’s device, as opposed to having the local machine perform all of the math calculations. This technology, which is still in its infancy, has the potential to forever alter the way we play video games.
Streaming has also made esports possible. These are competitive video game tournaments that work in a similar manner to traditional sports, except instead of a physical pitch, court, or track, they employ the digital environment of a game.
However, as technology began evolving and smartphones and tablets became more widespread, new forms of mobile gaming emerged. Games could take advantage of the larger, higher-resolution screens and more powerful processors of these devices, resulting in more sophisticated and visually appealing experiences.
Apple’s App Store and Google Play’s emergence in the early 2010s simplified content distribution for creators and made the discovery and download of new games for players.
The early games in this genre were Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, and Candy Crush. They were groundbreaking because they took use of the touchscreens that were standard on smartphones around that time (2007 and later).
Even these games appear relatively basic today. Today’s games encompass a wide variety of genres, ranging from casual games that can be played in short bursts to more complicated and engrossing releases that rival console and PC games in terms of size and quality.
Mobile gaming is a major industry thanks to technological advancements, with billions of people across the world playing games on their smartphones and tablets. Because of this development, new business models have emerged, such as the free-to-play format, which includes giving away a game for free and generating cash through in-app purchases.
In all areas, technology is responsible for the evolution of gaming over the past half century. Developers can create more realistic releases as hardware capabilities improve. Even though the future is unknowable, technological advances will cause whatever happens.