Video games have a long and well documented history leading up to the major industry that they are today. While there are many more than just four milestones in the history of Video games, here are objectively four of the more important ones and why.
In 1954 in a lab in New Mexico, the same lab that developed the atomic bomb, a scientist created the first computer based game on an IBM 701. The game was a Blackjack program that, required no physical accompaniment. It was one of the major milestones towards video games as we know them today, as it didn’t require other physical tools such as the chess programs that came before it. While the program had one of the most advanced computers at the time to run it, it showed the flexibility of programming. This would later inspire Dr. William Higinbotham to make the game “Tennis for Two”, in 1958 on a massive Donner computer, the game was then played on an oscilloscope. The curiosity that the game attracted from the common people was very surprising, as people came from all around to wait in a massive line just to play this game. This is what allowed the industries to see that people had a large interest in digital and electronic games.
One of the next major pushes came when Pong was introduced to Arcades. The game was easy enough that anyone could play it, and explosively popular. Some reports say that people flocked to play Pong in bars and Arcades so much that they broke down quite frequently. Pong machines soon made their way to bars and then into homes. This was the most successful case of home console being introduced that had been seen thus far. While the Magnavox Odyssey had come out prior, due to its poor press right out the gate, it wasn’t nearly as successful as Atari’s Pong Machines. Pong was in major demand, to the point where the small company could no longer keep up with the demand. They were soon bought out for 28 million dollars. An amount which today, would be over 124 million. Unfortunately, all rises eventually lead to a fall which would happen a few years later.
A major milestone in video game is the massive crash that occurred in 1983. The crash was caused due too over saturation of poor quality games that were advertised as being much better than they were. An example of this is the game E.T., based on the movie, it is often considered to be one of the worst games ever made. Nintendo was the one that was able to renew the gaming industry in 1985, with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in North America. It was an improvement over the previously released consoles that had been released prior with better display, color, sound, and gameplay. The NES was also not originally advertised as a video game, but rather as a toy. Nintendo prevented the over-saturation of poor quality games by imposing a large number of regulations, on games that were made by a third party. Nintendo made waves again in 1989 when they popularized hand held gaming with their Game Boy.
As history has shown us time and time again, nothing breeds advancement more than competition. The first “Console War” also occurred in 1989 when Sega released their new 16-bit console in North America. Not wanting to lose business, Nintendo responded with releasing a new 16-bit system of their own, the Super NES. This led to a large number of popular games being released on both consoles. This led to wanting to expand their clientele to more mature audiences which saw the release of games featuring blood and gore, such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. After a public outcry about violent video games, Sega founded the, “Video Game Rating Coucil”, in 1993 to provide a detailed label on all of their games. This would later give rise to a new industry wide rating organization called the, “Entertainment Software Rating Board”, which is still used today when rating games and other software.
Console wars continue to push console gaming forward, despite PC gaming’s (PC master race) recent rise in popularity, competition will always be a needed factor in the development in gaming and technology as a whole. While Sega did when the original console war with Nintendo in North America, they didn’t have the same level of success back at home in Japan. Video games continue to advance every day, with new revolutionary pieces of technology become more readily available every day.