Video games turn 50: from Computer Space to today

Video games turn 50: from Computer Space to today

Video games turn 50

Not every day the videogame (intended as a product marketed on a large scale) turns 50 years old, a lot of time has passed and in recent years the videogame industry has experienced an exponential growth.

Many readers probably (including the author of the article) have not been able to experience all generations in the first person, but certainly the phenomenon of "retrogaming" is still booming today.

Here it is impossible to analyze everything the videogame journey has been, because an entire book would be needed, but you will see some titles and consoles that have "made the history" of the videogame, some you may know by fame, others are so "old" that they will probably surprise you.

It starts from the title of the article, that is "Computer Space", why this game? Precisely because it is considered the first large-scale arcade game produced by Nutting Associates, it was still a rather difficult title, based on “Spacewar! ": Title from 1962, built on PDP-1 computer (in the image below).

With this we specify that video games were clearly in production even in previous years, but they were not a real commercial product. For example, Ralph H. Baer, ​​a German engineer, produced "Bucket Filling Game" in 1967, the very first multiplayer video game that can be viewed on television.

And what was the first console in the world? It was the Magnavox Odyssey (in the image below), whose prototype was created by Ralph Baer in 1969, then officially presented on May 24, 1972. However, there were some controversies: three months later, in fact, Atari produced the video game PONG (one of those titles that made history), at which point Magnavox sued Atari for patent infringement, as it was almost identical to their console's tennis game.

But not only that, during the eighties Magnavox sued other companies for similar reasons, often winning or reaching a plea bargain; in short, the era ofa> video games had just begun with PONG, which is why the disputes between such immature and "similar" products were commonplace.

Let's go on, another year to keep in mind is certainly 1978: the Japanese company Taito produces "Space Invaders" which had a resounding success, the golden age of arcade video games had just begun. I invite readers to also reflect on what was the approach to video games of those times: the arcades.

The video game was certainly a reason to meet with friends and socialize, have fun together, today this approach it has not been lost, but it has changed: we have our consoles at home, the arrival of the internet has also totally changed the videogame industry. Today players connect from home and play together, but not only that, even today there is still the desire to try titles with friends, but it is certainly not the same situation as in the eighties.

It must be emphasized how the eighties were truly a golden age for video games, there were many innovations introduced: scrolling shooters were born (such as Battlezone), we remember Pac-man (a title that readers will surely know by fame). Mario also appeared for the first time, which originally had the bizarre name of "Jumpman".

In those years, "home computers" equipped with joysticks became popular: remember the Commodore 64 (in the image below), marketed from 1982 to 1994. Readers, there will almost certainly be many of you who have never heard of these "ancient machines", but (personally) I would use a time machine to try these experiences at the exact moment they were born.

Another year important: in 1983 the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was born which developed two years later, it was then in the nineties that with the spread of the most advanced computers and the Internet, the videogame industry changed considerably: portable consoles, the Game Boy and Game Gear, with these important Nintendo sagas such as Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda develop.

What came next, such as the Nintendo 64 and the DS, then the Playstation 1, 2 and the later consoles (between the sixth and eighth generation) we know them well or, at least, most of the public will surely have experienced them firsthand.

But evolution, as you read in the article, is been very long. In particular, in the first decade of the 2000s the videogame industry has seen a decisive growth, even only in the transition from a PS2 graphics to a PS3, with the PS4 generation the commitment of the developers has grown a lot, as well as the revenues of the industry ( $ 2 billion).

Not only that, the VR experience is also growing rapidly, an extremely interesting and unthinkable innovation for gamers of many years ago. We are entering a generation where the cost to produce video games is equal to (or higher) than the production of Hollywood films: this changes the cards, making development companies more fearful of throwing themselves into totally new projects or that "dare" too much. , for fear of a "flop".

The projects of the new generation are certainly many and interesting but, if you notice, the audience has changed too: today we have become much more fussy about the amount of FPS on the screen , the public is more attentive and accustomed (by now) to graphically “incredible” titles, ie extremely advanced ones. Satisfying today's public will not be easy for development companies, because they will have to use all their resources, not always sure of certain results.

The article closes inviting readers to go "further" when they enjoy video games, to develop a critical ability to appreciate a work in its many facets and yes, also for its defects. Video games are works of art and, as such, they will always continue to convey emotions, we are here to live them to the full!

Here you can book the Nintendo Game & Watch, a special version dedicated to Zelda that replicates the old Nintendo home console, out on 11/12/2021.

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