Since its commercial birth in the 1950s as a technological quirk at a science fair, gaming has become one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world.
The boom in mobile technology in recent years has revolutionized the industry and opened the doors for a new generation of gamers. Gaming is indeed so integrated with modern popular culture that even grandmas now know what Angry Birds is..
The early years
The first recognized example of a games console was unveiled by Dr. Edward Uhler Condon at the New York World’s Fair in 1940. The game, based on the old mathematical game Nim,was played by about 50,000 people during the six months it was played. display, in which the computer reportedly won more than 90 percent of the games.
However, the first game system designed for commercial home use only came on the market nearly three decades later, when Ralph Baer and his team released his prototype, the “Brown Box”, in 1967.
The “Brown Box” was a vacuum tube circuit that could be connected to a television set and allowed two users to control cubes that chased each other on the screen. The “brown box” can be programmed to play a variety of games, including table tennis, checkers and four sports games. Using advanced technology for this time, added accessories were a light gun for a shooting game and a special attachment that was used for a put game..
Magnavox-Odyssey The “Brown Box” was licensed to Magnavox,which released the system in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey. It preceded Atari a few months ago, which is often mistakenly considered the first game console.
Between August 1972 and 1975, when the Magnavox was discontinued, about 300,000 consoles were sold. The poor sales were attributed to poorly managed in-store marketing campaigns and the fact that home gaming was currently a relatively strange concept for the average American.
As poorly managed as it was, this was the birth of the digital gaming we know today.
Continue to Arcade Gaming
Sega and Taito were the first companies to attract public interest in arcade gaming when they released the electromechanical games Periscope and Crown Special Soccer in 1966 and 1967. In 1972, Atari (founded by Nolan Bushnell, the godfatherof gaming)becamethe first gaming company to really set the benchmark for a large-scale gaming community..
Atari not only developed their games in-house, they also created an entirely new industry around the “arcade”, and in 1973 Atari, with a retail price of $1095, began to sell the first real electronic video game Pong, and arcade machines began to pop up in bars., bowling alleys and shopping centers around the world. Techheads realized they had discovered something important; between 1972 and 1985, more than 15 companies began developing video games for the ever-expanding market.
The roots of multiplayer gaming as we know it
In the late 1970s, a number of restaurant chains in the US began installing video games to take advantage of the hot new craze. The nature of the games led to competition between players, who were able to score their high scores with their initials and were determined to mark their place at the top of the list. At this time, multiplayer gaming was limited to players competing on the same screen.
The first example of players competing on separate screens came in 1973 with “Empire” – a strategicturn-based game for up to eight players – created for the PLATO network system. PLATO(Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operation)was one of the first generalized computer-based education systems, originally built by the University of Illinois and later acquired by Control Data (CDC), which built the machines on which the system operated.
According to plato system usage logs, users played about 300,000 hours of Empire between 1978 and 1985. In 1973, Jim Bowery released Spasim for PLATO – a 32-player space shooter – considered the first example of a 3D multiplayergame. While access to PLATO was limited to large organizations such as universities – and Atari – that could afford the computers and connections needed to join the network, PLATO represents one of the first steps on the technological path to internet and online multiplayer gaming as we know today.
At this time, gaming was popular with the younger generations and was a shared activity as people competed for high scores in arcades. However, most people would not have considered that four out of five American households with a gaming system would be considered a likely reality.
Gaming at home becomes a reality
In addition to becoming popular in commercial centers and restaurant chains in the US, in the early 1970s, the advent of personal computers and mass-produced game consoles also became a reality. Technological advances, such as Intel’s invention of the world’s first microprocessor, led to the creation of games such as Gunfight in 1975, the first example of a multiplayerhuman-to-human combat shooter.
Although it was far from Call of Duty, Gunfight was a big deal when it first came into arcades. It came with a new gameplay style, where one joystick was used to control movements and another to determine the direction of the recording – something that had never been seen before.
In 1977, Atari released the Atari VCS (later known as the Atari 2600), but sales were sluggish: in the first year only 250,000 were sold and in 1978 550,000 – well below the expected figures. The low sales figures are due to the fact that Americans at home were still getting used to the idea of color TVs, the consoles were expensive and people got tired of Pong, Atari’s most popular game.
When it was released, the Atari VCS was designed only to play 10 simple challenge games, such as Pong,Outlaw and Tank. However, the console contained an external ROM slot that could be inserted into game cassettes; its potential was quickly discovered by programmers around the world, who made games that performed much better than the console’s original.
The integration of the microprocessor also led to the release of Space Invaders for the Atari VCS in 1980, which marked a new era of gaming and sales: sales of the Atari 2600 shot up to 2 million units in 1980.
While home and arcade games boomed, so did the development of the gaming community. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, hobby magazines were published, such as Creative Computing (1974), Computer and Video Games (1981) and Computer Gaming World (1981). These magazines created a sense of community and provided a channel for gamers to participate.
Personal computers: designing games and being open to a wider community
The boom in video games caused by Space Invaders saw a large number of new companies and consoles emerge, resulting in a period of market saturation. Too many game consoles, and too few interesting, engaging new games to play on, eventually led to the crash of the North American video games in 1983, which saw huge losses, and truckloads of unpopular titles of poor quality buried in the desert to get rid of them. The gaming industry needed a change.
About the same time that consoles were starting to get bad press, home computers like the Commodore Vic-20, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II began to grow in popularity. These new home computer systems were affordable for the average American, with a retail price of about $300 in the early 1980s (about $860 in today’s money), and were advertised as the ‘sensible’ option for the whole family.
These home computers had much more powerful processors than the previous generation of consoles; this opened the door to a new level of gaming, with more complex, less linear games. They also offered the technology gamers need to create their own games with BASIC code. Even Bill Gates designed a game called Donkey (a simple game where you had to dodge donkeys on a highway while driving a sports car). Interestingly, the game was brought back from the dead as an iOS app in 2012.
While the game was described by rivals at Apple at the time as “crude and embarrassing,” Gates added the game to inspire users to develop their own games and programs using the integrated BASIC code program.
Magazines like Computer and Video Games and Gaming World provided BASIC source code for games and tools, which could be typed into early PCs. Entries from readers’ games, programs and codes were accepted and shared.
The early computers not only provided the resources for more people to create their own game using code, but also paved the way for multiplayer gaming,an important milestone for the evolution of the gamingcommunity.
With early computers like the Macintosh and some consoles like the Atari ST, users were able to connect their devices to other players as early as the late 1980s. In 1987, MidiMaze was released on the Atari ST and included a feature that connected up to 16 consoles by connecting a computer’s MIDI-OUT port to the next computer’s MIDI-IN port.
While many users reported that more than four players at the same time dramatically slowed down and unstable the game, this was the first step towards the idea of a deathmatch,which became hugely popular with the release of Doom in 1993 and one of the most popular types of games today.
Multiplayer gaming via networks took off with the release of Pathway to Darkness in 1993, and the “LAN Party” was born. LANgaming became more popular with the release of Marathon on the Macintosh in 1994 and especially after first-person multiplayer shooter Quake hit stores in 1996. At that time, the release of Windows 95 and affordable Ethernet cards brought networks to the Windows PC, further expanding the popularity of multi-player LAN games.
The real revolution in gaming came when LAN networks, and later internet, opened multiplayer gaming. Multiplayer gaming took the gamingcommunity to a new level as it allowed fans to compete and communicate from differentcomputers, improving the social aspect of gaming. This important step paved the way for large-scale interactive gaming that modern gamers currently enjoy. On April 30, 1993, CERN placed the World Wide Web software in the public domain, but it would take years for the Internet to be powerful enough to enable gaming as we know it today.
The switch to online gaming on consoles
Long before game giants Sega and Nintendo moved into online gaming, many engineers tried to use the power of phone lines to transfer information between consoles.
William von Meister unveiled groundbreaking modem transfer technology for the Atari 2600 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 1982. The new device, the CVC GameLine,allowed users to download software and games using their landline and a cartridge. which can be connected to their Atariconsole.
The device allowed users to “download” multiple programmers’ games around the world, which could be played for free up to eight times; it also allowed users to download free games on their birthdays. Unfortunately, the device received no support from the leading game manufacturers of the time and was stabbed to death by the crash of 1983.
Real progress in “online” gaming would only take place after the release of 4th generation 16-bit-era consoles in the early 1990s, after the Internet as we know it became part of the public domain in 1993. In 1995, Nintendo released Satellaview , a satellite modem peripheral for Nintendo’s Super Famicomconsole. The technology allowed users to download games, news and cheatshints directly to their console using satellites. The broadcasts continued until 2000, but the technology never came from Japan on the world market.
Between 1993 and 1996, Sega, Nintendo and Atari made a number of attempts to break into “online” gamingvia cable providers , but none of them really got off the ground because of slowInternet capabilities and problems with cable providers. It wasn’t until the release of the Sega Dreamcast, the world’s first Internet-enabled console, in 2000 that real progress was made in online gaming as we know it today. The Dreamcast came with a built-in 56 Kbpsmodem and a copy of the latest PlanetWebbrowser, making internet gaming a core part of the installation rather than just a quirky add-on add-on used by a minority of users.
The Dreamcast was a truly revolutionary system and was the first netcentric device to become popular. However, it was also a huge failure, which effectively put an end to Sega’s consolerfenis. Internet access was expensive at the turn of the millennium, and Sega eventually had to pay huge bills when users used his PlanetWebbrowser around the world.
Experts linked the console’s failure to the fact that internet-focused technology was way ahead of its time, and with the rapid evolution of PC technology in the early 2000s, leading people to doubt the use of a console designed exclusively for gaming. Regardless of the failure, Dreamcast has paved the way for the next generation of consoles, such as the Xbox. Released in the mid-2000s, the new console manufacturers learned and improved the dreamcast’s netcentric focus, making online functionality an integral part of the gaming industry.
The release of Runescape in 2001 was a game changer. MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) allows millions of players around the world to play, communicate and compete against other fans on the same platform. The games also include chat features, allowing players to communicate and communicate with other players they meet in the game. These games may seem outdated now, but they remain hugely popular within the dedicated gamingcommunity.
The modern era of gaming
Since the early 2000s, internet capabilities have exploded and computer processor technology has improved so rapidly that every new batch of games, graphics and consoles seems to blow the previous generation out of the water. The cost of technology, servers and the Internet has fallen so far that the Internet is easily accessible and everyday, and 3.2 billion people around the world have access to the Internet. According to the ESA report on the computer and video games industry for 2015, at least 1.5 billion people play video games with Internet access.
Online stores such as Xbox Live Marketplace and the Wii Shopping Channel have completely changed the way people buy games, update software and communicate and communicate with other gamers, and networking services like Sony’s PSN have helped online multiplayergames reach incredible newheights.
Technology allows millions of people around the world to enjoy gaming as a shared activity. The recent ESAgaming report showed that 54 percent of frequent gamers think their hobby helps them connect with friends, and 45 percent use gaming as a way to spend time with their family.
By the time the Xbox 360 came out, online multiplayer gaming was an integral part of the experience (notably”deathmatch”games played against millions of peers around the world for games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare). Today, many games have an online component that greatly enhances gameplay experience and interactivity, often negating the importance of the player’s offline game goals.
“What I’ve been told as a general expectation is that 90% of the players who start your game will never see it…” says Keith Fuller,a longtime production contractor for Activision..
As online first-person shootergames became more popular, gaming”clans” began to emerge around the world. A clan, guild or faction is an organized group of video gamers who regularly play together in multiplayergames. These games range from groups of a few friends to organizations with 4000 people with a wide range of structures, goals and members. There are multiple online platforms where clans are judged against each other and can organize online battles and meetings.
The step to mobile
Since smartphones and app stores came to market in 2007, gaming has once again evolved rapidly that has not only changed the way people play games, but has also brought gaming into mainstream pop culture in an unprecedented way. Rapid advances in mobile technology over the past decade have led to an explosion in mobile gaming, which will overtake console-based gaming revenue in 2015.
This huge shift in the gaming industry to mobile, especially in Southeast Asia, has not only broadened the demographics of games, but also pushed gaming to the forefront of media attention. Like the early game fans who joined niche forums, today’s users have gathered around mobile gaming and the internet, magazines and social media are full of commentaries on new games and industry gossip. As always, gamers’ blogs and forums are filled with new game tips and sites such as Macworld,Ars Technica and TouchArcade push games from lesser known independent developers, as well as traditional gaming companies..
The game industry was previously monopolized by a handful of companies, but in recent years companies like Apple and Google have been sneaking their way up the rankings because of their revenue from selling games in their app stores. The time-consuming nature of mobile gaming is appealing to so many people who made basic games like Angry Birds $200 million in 2012 alone and broke two billion downloads in 2014.
More complex mobile multiplayergames like Clash of Clans bring in huge amounts of money each year, connecting millions of players around the world through their mobile device or League of Legends on the PC.
The transition to mobile technology has defined the recent chapter of gaming, but while gaming on the go fits well into the busy lives of millennials, gaming on mobile devices also has its limitations. Phone screens are small (well, at least until the iPhone 6s came out), and processor speeds and internal memory on most mobile phones limit gameplay capabilities. According to a recent VentureBeatarticle, mobile gaming is already witnessing its first slump. Revenue growth has slowed and the cost of doing business and distribution costs has increased dramatically in recent years.
While mobile gaming has caused the death of portable gaming devices, consoles are still on the rise, welcoming every new generation of consoles to a new era of technology and capabilities. Two industries that could play a key role in gaming’s future are gaming virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Virtual reality (VR) company Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and will release its Riftheadsetin 2016. The headset appears to be perfectly tailored for use within the video games industry and could potentially allow gamers to enter an interactive, immersive 3D world. The ability to create fully interactive, dynamic “worlds” for MMORPG, in which players can move, communicate with other players and experience the digital landscapes in a completely new dimension, could be within reach.
Much progress has been made in the world of artificial intelligence for language processing in recent years. In 2014, Google acquired Deep Mind; this year, IBM acquired AlchemyAPI, a leading provider of deep-learning technology; in October 2015, Apple made two AI acquisitions in less than a week. Two of the fields being developed are accuracy for speech recognition technology and open dialogue with computers.
These advances could represent an astonishing new chapter for gaming – especially in combination with VR, as they could allow games to communicate with characters in games, who would be able to respond to questions and commands with intelligent and seemingly natural responses. In the world of first-person shooters,sports games and strategy games, players could effectively instruct the computer to perform in-game tasks, as the computer could understand commands through a headset due to the improved accuracy of voice recognition.
If the changes that have occurred over the past century are anything to go by, it seems that in 2025 gaming will be almost unrecognizable for how it is now. Although Angry Birds has been a household name since its release in 2011, it is unlikely to be remembered as fondly as Space Invaders or Pong. As it progressed, gaming has seen multiple trends decline and tide, and then completely replaced by another technology. The next chapter on gaming is still unclear, but whatever happens, it’s definitely going to be entertaining.