Many of us grew up playing videogames, either at an arcade, or at home. The old arcade machines brought as games like Pacman, Pong and Space Invaders. These games remain popular until this day, and is downloadable on cellphones and tablets. But Video games have come a long way since King Pong was released in 1972. Each generation saw rapid technological advancement. Today the gaming industry is worth billions.
The graphics were simple, but it was an instant hit. A version of the game was designed to play at home and sold more than 100,000 units. This set the stage for the multibillion-dollar gaming industry we know today.
THE ORIGINAL MEGA-HITS
The success of Pong laid the groundwork for a flood of arcade games in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the frenetic Pacman and Space Invaders raking in billions from coin-rich youngsters desperate to post a high score.
But it was the arrival of home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo NES around the same time that took video games from arcades into living rooms.
Games popularised in this period still resonate with gamers today. An early Nintendo game – the 1981 Donkey Kong – featured a character known as Jumpman. This character later became Mario, one of the best-known video game heroes of all time.
THE HARDWARE WARS
As the market for games grew rapidly, so too did competition between hardware manufacturers, leading to the first of many “console wars” in the early 1990s between Sega and Nintendo.
Sega ultimately emerged as the victor – in part due to the popularity of its Sonic the Hedgehog franchise – but its Genesis console never quite enjoyed the longevity of some of its competitors.
The 1990s also brought massive innovation for video games – both in visual presentation, plot and complexity.
First-person-shooters like Goldeneye and action-adventure puzzler Tomb Raider revolutionised both graphics and storytelling, offering a more mature experience for an increasingly diverse audience. The popular game ‘Syndicate’, took gamers on a tour of the globe to complete missions.
By the year 2000 the stage was set for a new generation of home systems – and an all-new round of console wars, this time between PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and newcomer from Microsoft, the Xbox.
The PlayStation 2 won that fight, becoming the best-selling console of all time with 155 million units sold, according to Forbes.
ONLINE AND MULTIPLAYER
The following decade saw the advent of online gaming, allowing players to go from one-on-one matches in their living rooms to battles with scores of other players all over the world.
From the chaotic first-person shooter Call of Duty to the massive multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft, online gaming became a billion-dollar industry in its own right – and laid the groundwork for the massive growth of competitive eSports in the 2010s.
In 2013, Sony and Microsoft released their most powerful consoles yet – the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. With revolutionised graphics, games such as The Last of Us and Uncharted offered players cinematic scale experiences. Featuring full orchestral award winning scores.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Sony and Microsoft once again will go head-to-head again with their latest offerings, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, promising never-before-seen graphics and a range of exclusive titles. Facing stiff competition from PC gaming and changing habits among players, whichever pricey new console emerges victorious will truly have to live up to the hype.