The History of Video Games



Tanner Wymore, Staff Writer

Video Games have come from a place rooted in fun, and has come to a place where it can be used as a viable job option today. But not all agree, 7th grader Carl Carlin, is unbiased, and has responded to interview, saying, “ To me video games are more of an ok way to spend your time when your bored.”

In, 1958, in New York, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the head of the instrumentation group, William Higinbotham, was given the task of impressing visitors with their technological advancements. An analog computer was at the laboratory, and he experimented with it, leading him to the idea of making a tennis game.  The tennis game idea would later be stolen in the widely popular game Pong in 1972 by Atari.

Few games would be released, until, in 1976, widely unheard of, Magnavox released the first home console called the Brown Box. Later, in 1977, the Atari 2600 released with 9 games at the launch.

1980 was the year Pac-Man released, which was a literal game changer, getting itself a place in pop culture and history, by Namco, giving Atari a competitor. But the victory was shortly lived, when 3 years later in 1983, when the major event known as the Video Game Crash, occurred. This event was the cause of companies flooding to the market wanting money, by rushing games and making them poorly, showing this market was a huge cash grab for them. Back then, the only way to get a game was at stores physically, the internet wasn’t invented yet, so once the retailers lost interest in the considered “fad” at the time, the video game industry was considered to have crashed.

But later in 1985, nintendo saved the industry by repackaging their console the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), with a toy robot called R.O.B (Robotic Operating System) and sneaking it past retailers telling them it was a toy, and making it onto shelves. When negotiating with retailers, they chose to put the NES in the boys toy section, which is the reason games were heavily marketed towards boys.

Moving backwards a bit, let’s talk about Mario, the Italian Plumber about as well known as Pac-Man. First appearing in 1981, in Donkey Kong, then later in 1983, Mario got his own game, titled Mario Bros. Then, in 1987 , The Legend of Zelda released, Nintendo’s other face of video games, along with the failure of the power glove.

The Game boy had a back lit screen, which lead to most having light extensions.

Nintendo had created small systems called the Game and Watch systems in the 80s, a simple portable handheld, which later developed the modern d-pad, and lead into the GameBoy, made in 1989, that had shown the potential for portable gaming. The GameBoy was the start of many popular video games well known today, even starting Pokemon, the cultural phenomena.  

At the start of the 90s, technology was advancing, with the “not-so-at-the-time powerful” internet being invented. And Nintendo owning the video game market, and Atari dying out, and officially closing in 1993, Nintendo was seeming unstoppable.  With all this happening, Sega wasn’t getting much attention. Sega was Nintendo’s biggest competitor back then, and their NES back in the 80s had got more widespread attention than the Sega’s Famicom.

In 1981, Sega needed something that could compete with the popularity of Mario, which lead to the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog, for the Sega Genesis, their new console that released in 1992. But competitors were arriving to the market, but not small companies, in 1995, Microsoft created Windows 95, along with games, but Microsoft wouldn’t make its mark until later. Along with Sony, who released the Playstation 1994, with powerful graphics at the time.

In 1996, Nintendo released their first 64bit “3D”  console, and was the Playstations new competitor. Two years later, Sega released their last console, the Sega Dreamcast, a controversial console with not much to say, kicking Sega out of the race.

Nintendo and Sony both had widely successful consoles, and had not much trouble up until 2001, when Microsoft released the Xbox, the console that would shift the market. The Xbox had games like Halo, Morrowind, and Star Wars Battlefront. Halo especially was a game that got big, people considering to be one of the best multiplayer shooters, and having such a big community, the games developer, Bungee, later went on to make many sequels.

In 2001 Nintendo also launched their GameCube which got average success, and the Playstation 2, which released in 2000, becoming the most successful game console in current history.

In 2005, the Xbox 360 was released, a beast in the market, and most people had one. Sony then released the Playstation 3 in 2006, with not much notice,  and then Nintendo launching the money making behemoth, the Wii.  The Wii wasn’t like the other consoles, literally, in the sense it used motion controls, a technology no one had seen. But before you knew it, literally everyone, even their grandparents had a Wii.

The Wii started a trend that Microsoft and Sony began to follow, with motion sensor accessories for their consoles, none comparing to the Wii’s. It was a success for years, but once Nintendo was on top of the market, but took a hit when they made the wrong move in 2012 and released the Wii U, a failed console. Later in 2013, the Xbox One and Playstation 4 were released, with a curveball coming in 2017. The Playstation 4 most would consider to have won the battle this time, but it wasn’t over. The Ps4 was having a smooth run, until Nintendo made a comeback few saw coming.

The Nintendo Switch released at the beginning of 2017 and surprised people, because it was exactly what most people wanted.  The Switch revolutionized itself from the Wii U, and had a clear purpose, and now at the end of 2018, video games are moving to another level, where you can get a job in the video game industry. With games like Fortnite, and technology advancing, as 7th grader Sophie, stated, “There’s more professional, games, and gamers now.” Showing that games are becoming a mainstream medium. Now from big boxes to slabs in our pockets, we’re always moving forward.