When I was a kid, cold and rainy days were marked by excited screams and laughter of my friends and I, paired with electronic sounds and theme songs coming out of one of few game consoles we had among ourselves.
My next door neighbors took pride in their Atari 2600, which predated most of us by several years, my best friend had a Super Nintendo, and on one wonderful birthday my parents got me a Play Station. Back then we knew nothing about console wars, and played Frogger as with as much enthusiasm as we did Super Mario or Crash Bandicoot and pilgrimaged from house to house, squeezing in front of one of our TVs.
Games have been a part of my personal history since as long as I can remember, but they have a history all of their own stretching way back to late 1940s.
There isn’t exactly are consensus on what the first video game was, as it really depends on how you define a video game. One of the earliest example was “Cathode ray tube Amusement Device” was of an analog device that allowed a user to control a vector-drawn dot on the screen to simulate a missile being fired at targets. In 1951 NIMROD computer was created for the specific purpose of playing the game of Nim, Alexander S. Douglas developed OXO, which used a graphical display to play tic-tac-toe, and a group of MIT students created Spacewar! in 1961, that comprised of two spaceships battling each other on the DEC PDP-1’s vector display.
In the 60s the first commercially sold video game consoles like Computer Space and Magnavox Odyssey launched, and in the 1970s Atari’s Pong came to the market with a bang and launched the video game industry into the orbit.
Remember Space Invaders? They date back to 1978 and it marked the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games. As the game won the hearts of gamers spanning all demographic groups, arcades quickly spread around mainstream locations like shopping malls, and popped up in restaurants, bars and convenience stores.
Home computers also made the appearance in the 1970s, and along with arcades and home consoles, video games took the world by storm. The eighties brought fort many of our favorite and best known titles like Frogger, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
Games were distributed on disks, cassette tapes, and ROM cartridges put on the shelves of local shops or sent through snail mail (then just „mail“, obviously).
Around 1983, there was a crash that followed the initial hype. Hurrying to jump on the bandwagon companies produced poorly designed games, countless clones of popular games and got stuck with unsold copies due to badly thought out distribution system. Many of them slithered to oblivion, but some waddled through- ever heard of a little company called Electronic Arts?
The industry recovered, though, and 80s and 90s were marked by third generation consoles, gamepads took over for joysticks and keypads and Japan became the leading country in hardware and console game production- due to Nintendo, of course.
The rest of the story you probably know- you’ve most likely lived and played through it, and got to the point where games are available to us on every digital device you could possibly think of. Game consoles, computers, mobile phones and tablets, single player or multiplayer, in every genre imaginable.
Feeling nostalgic? Play a ga.me or two, that should make you feel better. it’s no Atari, I’ll grant you that, but that’s not neccessarily a bad thing!
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