At the New York Science Fair, Dr. Edward Condon released game machine based on the ancient maths game Nim
The Brown Box is the first prototype commercial product. Users play ping pong, tennis and other like games by connecting it the TV and allowing two players to control cubes that chased each other around the screen. At this stage, gaming technology aims to replicate amusements and sports that happen face to face. The player mentality and immersion is very much based on ‘beating’ your opponent.
Magnavox, a great electronics company of that era, licences the Brown Box, known as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. 300,000 consoles are sold, but the product is soon discontinued. The concept of gaming was still seen as a flash novelty, an strange concept to the average American, and thus sales and marketing and no direction and strategy to hold the nation’s interest.
As well as ‘in-home’ gaming, arcade gaming was making a stand! The company Antari created the idea of arcade gaming, where electronic games were being made available in bars and bowling alleys. The first arcade game was called Pong, and was a simplistic version of the sport Ping Pong. Gaming was still cemented in a “player vs player” mentality, but now it was being a commercial entertainment avenue, not just a domestic one.
Antari’s The Video Computer System (better known as the Antari 2000) revolutionizes console design: there are interchangeable cartridges, colour games, and joystick. The formatting also allowed for difficulty levels, switching games.
Jumpman, or Mario hits the scene on Nintendo’s Donkey Kong- he would later start a franchise of his own. Here, the tender beginnings of the video gaming industry begin to make its mark on pop culture at large.
A plateauing US gaming industry spikes as the Nintendo Entertainment System is released there after success in Japan.
The gaming industry opens to new possibilities and markets in trying to educate young children and supplement things they have learnt in the classroom, which also appealed to parental needs and desires. We see the gaming industry consciously trying to appeal the parents of the young buyers.
Hand held gaming skyrockets in the market after Nintendo’s Game Boy is released. The battery life and easy, on-the-go use is an important factor in taking gaming from a hobby to a part of one’s lifestyle and passions.
Tomb Raider is released, and like the Mario Games, makes its mark on pop culture. But this time, it’s for a less-than-positive reason: critics say the protagonist of the game, Lara Croft, is one of the first examples of hyper-sexualisation of women in the modern gaming world.
Whilst it is not the first life simulation game, The Sims by Will Wright became the best-selling computer game and the most popular with females. By now, gaming has spread across almost all modes of media, and the player immersion ranges from opponent vs opponent, team player, to replicating real-life challenges.
PC gaming is revolutionized when the Steam platform is created, functioning like a iTunes for gaming, where players can upload and buy games on the market.
With health conscious rhetoric on the rise, Nintendo Wii in-home console aims to get players moving around and increasing their heart rate in their own living rooms. Yet another kind of player experience emerged: the individual bettering themselves, working to beat not a third party opponent but their own personal bests.
By now, gaming has spanned across every platform, including social media and the iPhone. Games like Farmville and Candy Crush mean anyone can dabble in gaming.
2014 Games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and League of Legends fore-fronted the trend of the micro transactional going, wherein plyers must pay to unlock feature of a game.
2016 and beyond…
The future holds excitement and many challenges for the future of the gaming industry. Virtual reality immersion, split platform gaming and ‘Cloud Gaming’ (accessing games the same way we access music) are all set to be key trends in the coming years. But without the 70 something year history behind it, gaming would not be the avid past time and cultural melting pot that it has become, challenging players to compete and better themselves in new ways every day.