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How did video games become popular?

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First Programmed Game

Computer gaming, since it’s inception plays a significant role in our society, for many it is a passion for some it became the stable source of the income. Since the age of technology, gaming had taken a significant part of everyday life with new customer segment added with each reincarnation. We’re now playing more, with the most advanced games imaginable, which were entirely a subject of fiction not so long ago. Gaming machines, grandparents of the modern console had humble beginnings. Dr. Edward Uhler Condon revealed the first recognized machine in 1940. It was based on the mathematical game of Nim, and during its show over six months, the game was played by about 50,000 players. About 90% of the gamers won the game though. It was not a commercial game platform, first of which came out in 1967.

Dr. Edward Uhler Condon

First for profit Games

Brown Box released in 1967, developed by Ralph Baer and his team. Their game was about two players chasing each other, and the gameplay shown on a TV set connected to it. The Brown Box was programmable to play several types of games, like ping pong, checkers. With an accessory light gun attachment, it even allowed to play first shooting games. This first ever commercial gaming device was licensed to Magnavox, and was released in 1972, named “Magnavox Odyssey.” This device preceded Atari by a few months, which people often mistake to be the first ever gaming console.
Around 300,000 consoles of Magnavox been sold before it was discontinued. Home gaming was an alien concept to people, and poor sales due to lack of proper management caused it to shut down. It was Sega and Taito that took the public interest in arcade gaming. Their first arcade games Periscope and Crown Special Soccer released in 1966 and 1967. Thus, in 1972, Atari turned to be the first ever gaming company to set a benchmark for gaming. The first ever real electronic game named Pong started to sell, and arcade machines distributed in bars and shopping malls around the world. During 1972-1985, over fifteen companies began producing video games.

Multiplayer Games – The Inception

Then comes the beginnings of multiplayer games. During the late 1970s, video games installed in different restaurants around the U.S. were connected to each other where a player could beat others in the leaderboard by points. Multiplayer mode was only available on just a single machine at that point. Multiplayer with multiple screens first came out with “Empire” that was developed by PLATO, later taken over by Control Data (CDC), the company that built machines on which the system ran. According to PLATO’s system log, user spent more than 300,000 hours playing Empire during 1978-1985. The first ever 3D multiplayer game known as Spasim released in 1973, developed by Jim Bowery.

Platovterm game

Intel – Thank You

In the early 1970s, the arrival of personal computers and gaming consoles turned into reality, and user base grew. After Intel’s invention of the microprocessor, gaming becomes more widespread, paving the path of games like Gunfight in 1975, the first example of a multiplayer shooter game. The Gunfight was still far from the quality of Call of Duty we are used to, but it was a big hit with entirely new playing style introduced to hungry consumers. It used one joystick to control movement and other to shoot.
A new leap in technology took place in 1977 when Atari released their Atari VCS, which sold in small numbers. Americans were still adjusting with color TVs at home, and Atari’s consoles were above the cost they could afford. People wouldn’t get attracted by Pong anymore, though it’s the most favorite game of Atari. An interesting fact is, Atari VCS came up with an external ROM slot where game cartridges could be plugged in, and paving the way for programmers for creating games outperforming the original games within the console.

Gamers vs Greed

As arcade and home gaming continued to grow, so did the community. We saw the release of hobbyist magazines like Computer and Video Games (1981), Creative Computing (1974) and so on. These publications developed a backbone of the community, allowing gamers engage with each other through a universal channel. This sudden boom of video game companies and their games almost followed the same pattern. Too many consoles with too little exciting games made the gaming community turn their back from the companies, resulting in massive losses and many acquisitions and bankruptcies.

The gaming industry was severely in need of change. It was the time when home computers were gaining popularity. They were sensible in price and affordable by most American families back then. Those PCs came up with much more powerful processors and other hardware, allowing the creation of more complex and engaging games.
With the advancement of hardware, MIDI ports become tremendously popular for multiplayer gaming. Early computers like Macintosh and consoles like Atari ST had the facility of connecting up to 16 consoles by connecting through MIDI ports.

Creative Computing Magazines

Gaming post LAN

The real revolution happened when LAN networks got introduced. It gave multiplayer gaming a big thrust and platform gained popularity with the release of Marathon and Macintosh in 1994. When Windows 95 and Ethernet cards became affordable, it boosted multiplayer gaming further ahead. In the field of multiplayer games, the internet was a pivoting addition. It took the multiplayer gaming to a whole new dimension. The Internet allows gamers interact with different players that improved the social trait of gaming. World Wide Web software introduced on April 30, 1993, by CERN, but it wasn’t enough to host advanced multiplayer games we know in the present.

Why is Games a Billion Dollar Industry?

Thanks to the improvement of hardware and connection speed, gaming has reached its near perfection over the last few decades. The cost of hardware and internet connection continuously decreased with performance gradually increasing, allowing developers bring out the better games to the world. Buying games have become much easier online benefitting stores like Steam, Xbox Store due to improved online payment systems.

It’s been not a long since we’ve seen the rise of the mobile gaming industry. With advanced in manufacturing and improved smartphone performance, mobiles are now a robust and vast platform for games as well. This sector is becoming more attractive, as it costs less to develop than PC counterparts customer expectation are easier to fulfill and in some developing nations users buy a smartphone as their first multipurpose device skipping PC altogether. We’ve seen the rise of world famous smartphone games like Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, and Asphalt 8 with more manufacturers experimenting with improved graphics hardware.

Exciting times ahead.

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