A History Of Video Games

A sign that says video games: a history and their impact by claudia bock

Last semester, I took a class on technology (mostly hardware and basics on how the internet works). The following is the edited final project I presented called Video Games: History & Their Impact. I’ll be talking about the class as a whole on top of linking the presentation as a pdf.

For the class as a whole, it was interesting.

It was an A session online class, meaning it was an online class that ended halfway through the semester. I definitely learned quite a bit about how the internet works, what a network is, and the importance of encryption of data. Seriously, my teacher could not stress enough how much privacy we sacrifice for the sake of convenience. I learned about some technology I had no idea existed like alternatives to a mouse. I learned about all the kinds of attacks computers can experience from viruses to malware and some variations of each. It’s interesting how much data the internet has on individuals. It doesn’t help I covered Netflix’s You here on the blog so the topic was definitely at the forefront of my mind. I’m not afraid, and I don’t think you should be either, just please be careful about what you post online.

Final Project

Background:

For the final project, we were allowed to do basically whatever we wanted so long as it was technology-related. For example, someone else did theirs on Bitcoin. Another one was on medical-based technology. I did video games. The requirements were to do research and give a 10ish minute presentation on it.

1970’s Impact:

Welcome to the era of arcade gaming, the first multiplayer platform (PLATO), Atari, Activision, and Intellivision (Mattel’s slightly better version of the Atari 2600). This era is famous for games like Pong, Space Invaders, and Asteroids. The common theme is games with no clear ending, the satisfaction comes in seeing who can obtain the highest score. But this was only the beginning.

1980s Impact:

In this decade, the movie Tron came out in 1982. 1983 saw a gaming crash but ’85 saw a gaming boom–probably because the NES came out the same year. This decade saw a rise in gaming and computer science magazines. After watching the gaming documentary on “High Score” it seems like a lot of people had to pick up a bit of programming to use the computers of the day. The notable games of this era are Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Legend of Zelda, Madden Football, Mega Man, Castlevania, and Final Fantasy. It seems in this decade we were expanding the kinds of games we could do-role playing games (RPGs), Metroidvanias, and e-sports- with more exploration into storytelling in games.

1990s Impact:

In this decade, many new systems were born: SNES (’91), LAN party (’93), Playstation (’95), Satellaview (’95), and the Nintendo 64 (’96). Some notable games of this era are Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Doom, and Dance Dance Revolution. Sonic was made to specifically allow Sega to compete with Mario which explains why they are both games where you are completing an obstacle course. The RPG genre expanded further. Another theme for the decade seems to be expanding into multiplayer options with Doom and DDR.

2000s Impact:

In this decade the PlayStation2 (’00), the Gameboy Advance (’01), Xbox (’01), Nintendo DS(’04), Xbox 360 (’05), Playstation3 (’06), and Wii (’06) were all released. In ’03, Steam-a place to get PC games- was born. Lastly, this decade saw a small shift to phone games in ’07. The notable games here are Sims, Halo: Combat Evolved, Rock Band, World of Warcraft, social games like Angry Bird or Farmville, Smash Bros, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Borderlands, and Runescape. For this decade the trend seems to be “anyone can play, no matter the age or location” so we have games that cater to a little bit of everyone. Games for any kind of gamer.

2010s Impact

In this decade the following systems were released: 3DS (’11), WiiU (’12), Xbox One (’13), VR (’14), Playstation4 Pro (’16), Switch (’17),and the Xbox Adaptive Controller (’18). If last decade was making sure we made more games available to more audiences, this decade expanded on that with Free to Play games (’14) and accessibility.

We saw a rise in more indie game developers who made the trend for ethic games (Papers Please, Gone Home, The Last of Us, etc.) popular in 2013 and Let’s Players-people who would live stream or record themselves playing a game for an audience w- made easier with Twitch blowing up in 2015. Notable games were Minecraft (an indie game made in Java), Pokemon Go, Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, Fornite, and the aforementioned ethic games. If I may be bold, I feel as though this only scratches the surface of what the indie community has brought to the gaming industry.

Societal Impact:

Pros

  • Make friends
  • Improved aattention span, visual, mood, memory, and motor skills
  • viable treatment for depression
  • build problem-solving skills
  • good for relaxation
  • Video Game Hall of Fame / Art & Museums have video games now
  • Special effects of movies use the same technology as video games (The Mandalorian series is a good example of this)
  • Increased popularity of personal computers

Cons

  • Can be addicting = “internet gaming disorder”
  • can be depressing or cause aggression
  • stereotyping gamers
  • Culture linking video games and mass shootings and other tragedies

Time for My Personal Opinion

What makes a good games? A sneak peak at Game Development:

This is going to vary from gamer to gamer. In the game developer world, we generalize all gamers into four broad categories to keep in mind when making a game. Achievers – those who get immense satisfaction from completing tasks, missions, or getting achievements. Masters – those who get immense satisfaction from mastering the controls of a game, I’ve noticed a lot of Let’s Player’s fall into this category. Explorers- those who get immense satisfaction from exploring what the world of the game has to offer for them. Lastly, Socializers – those who get immense satisfaction out of playing games with others.

These days, you don’t have to make a traditionally “good” game to qualify as a good game. Look at meme games like “Giraffe Town” There are so many people you could hear talk about this topic who know much more than I do like Mark Brown, Extra Credits, or the Game Development Conference talks.

Games I feel have made an impact

“Good” Games / Franchises:

Pokemon Go: it’s for everyone, there’s not a lot of gameplay, and it got the world to be healthier at the height of its popularity.

Original Tomb Raider: It’s an iconic series but I think we all know Laura Croft is only known for one thing and it’s not her adventures.

Pac-Man: Iconic with great level design, just not my kind of game.

Grand Theft Auto: Brought a new genre but it’s violent and crude at best.

Fortnite: It has a for everyone mentality with dynamic gameplay that comes out with new content to this day. However, it is marketed towards children and I cannot condone the gambling aspect that comes with loot boxes.

Good Games /Franchises:

Detroit: Become Human: it has a custom engine that produced a movie-like quality that is so beautiful.

Undertale: maybe I’m biased, but it took the classic RPG genre and flipped it on its head creating a commentary on the genre.

Five Nights At Freddy’s: Believe what you will about Scott Cawthon, but he created a whole new genre and delivered it in such a way that I haven’t seen any other developer do.

Minecraft: it created a new genre (sandbox) with a for everyone mentality that still receives updates to this day in a way that has even old fans coming back for more.

Doom: this brought more violence to video games, an engine that encouraged others to make mods, and multi-player functionality.

Final Fantasy: this was an RPG with pop 3D graphics and cutscenes.

Halo: Encouraged console vs PC and developed the first-person shooter genre.

Nintendo Franchises: I can’t say I love their accessibility approach but they do try to make their games for everyone and the way they develop games from a mechanics standpoint is the gold standard.

Portal: this created a new genre of FPS puzzle platforming with a really cool mechanic that’s fondly remembered to this day.

Dark Souls: renowned for its difficulty and seems like a callback to the days of not going easy on the player.

Looking to the futrure of Gaming

  • Development of AR/VR/phone gaming
  • Refining the art of interactive stroytelling
  • Merging the line between Photoshop and reality

Original Format With Sources:

Final Thoughts:

Thank you for reading The History of Video Games & their Impact, I appreciate it. Comment below what your favorite decade of video games is. If you like my content, consider subscribing to my mailing list and if you want another review, click here.

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