The First Video Game Ever
The earliest video game on record seems to be Bertie the Brain which was a tic-tac-toe game that put human vs the computer. This game was developed in Toronto and didn’t include any type of physics or anything particular special, but it was technically the first arcade game created purely to play a game. With that in mind I dug up a tic-tac-toe game online that you can check out: http://playtictactoe.org/
(Also worth noting, you can simply search “tic-tac-toe” on Google and they have one ready to go as well!)
1970 – The First Video Game Consoles And First Games With Physics
You can’t think of video games without home units to play them on. The first actual home unit, or console, would be Magnavox’s Odyssey which is actually also the first game system to have physics. Pong released later in November of 1972, but would become the more popular system pushing Atari to the top with more accessible controllers, and user friendly gameplay.
These games were the first units to actually implement physics to create a more skill based nature in titles, instead of strict human-vs-computer titles like tic-tac-toe. These units used “special purpose physics” engines, which meant they could only compute one thing at a time. For example, a white ball bouncing between two white bars in Pong. Nothing outside of these special circumstances were rendered in the engines, making them still very basic titles. Technology for additional physics and better computer power wouldn’t come until later.
Play Pong here: http://www.ponggame.org/
Or you can play “modern day pong” by downloading “Glow Hockey” on mobile devices.
The bridge 70’s To 80’s Arcades Start To Take Over
Also happening in the 70s was a big boom of arcade machines and arcade locations opening up all throughout the world. Many people will remember the grungy smelly arcade’s they used to frequent, and we even did an article about how the industry should return to the arcade world. The “golden age of arcades” takes place between 1978 to 1985 with the releases of games like Space Invaders(1978) and Pac-Man(1980). Most arcades were thriving until the mid-1980’s when the industry took a major hit and most of them ended up closing.
Play Some arcade classics:
Pacman – http://www.playpacmanonline.net/
Space invaders – http://www.pacxon4u.com/space-invaders/
Don’t forget that some arcades still exist so you could even head out and check out your nearest Dave And Busters, or similar location. If you are truly lucky then a real arcade still exists within a mall near you.
1980 The Boom Of Success
The 80’s is when video games really began to boom, so forgive us for spending a bit of time here. The first game to ever sell 10 million copies happened in 1985 when Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros hit the mark. To date the game alone has sold over 40 million units, with Mario himself appearing in over 200 titles. (Later, Mario as a franchise would be the first title to sell over 100 million units)
Due to the boom in video games during the 80’s this was the generation with a lot of firsts. More notable titles include Ms. PacMan being the first female character, Dragonstomper starting the RPG genre, and of course Q-bert being the first character to swear.
The 1980’s is also when Nintendo began their dive into the business with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. This was the first console the company would release, decades later they have sold over 700 million total consoles across several generations. I would say go pick up a mini-NES to celebrate, but it doesn’t release until November. Instead, if you have a Nintendo unit, you can head to their emulation store to play some old titles.
If you are like me however, you are probably a Sega fan so you can head out and buy a Sega Genesis classic game console. The Sega Genesis released in 1988, but the iconic Sonic The Hedgehog didn’t come until 1991. You don’t need the classic game console to play Sonic titles though as many of them can be found on pretty much any platform you can think of. I found an emulation version online.
We also have an article that talks about all the games that have aged well from the 80’s, I highly suggest checking it out and giving some of them a play as you celebrate national video game day.
I asked the team what some of their favorite 1980’s titles were and here are some:
Contra, Metal Gear, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, and Centipede. (It’s worth noting almost every single member said Pac-Man immediately, so head up above and give it a play.)
1990 Technology Takes Over
1990 was another big generation of firsts for video games with the inclusion of advanced physics being implemented within games, and of course new methods of play. The 90s was a generation of technological advancements filled with a lot of games testing new methods of programming, along with new ideas being implemented in engines. The 90s was also, of course, the boom of 3D titles that we know today.
The biggest addition to the industry would be when Sony released the first PlayStation in December of 1994.
The first game that comes to mind is Doom. The game released in 1993 and was preceded by Wolfenstein 3D which was a 3D entry into the Castle Wolfenstein series introduced in 1981. This time the game was in first person view, which meant objects and enemies were coming at you and you had to figure out the puzzles without an overhead view. Doom enhanced everything Wolfenstein did and went on to become one of the most iconic games ever released. Doom spawned all kinds of similar titles all throughout the 90s, but more importantly it helped pave the way for modern day blockbusters like Battlefield and Call of Duty. You can get Doom anywhere, and I suggest checking out user created additions and mods, but an emulated version can be found here.
You can, of course, check out the new rebooted Doom. Which we highly suggest playing.
Other firsts in the 90’s include the first announcer in sports titles by Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football on the Sega Mega Drive. (The later title Sports Talk Baseball is more popular) Mortal Kombat is the highlight of any 90s kid life, but a title inspired by the series (Rise of the Robots) was the first title to actually incorporate motion capture(MOCAP). Mocap is widely used by almost every AAA release these days.
The first game to use ragdoll physics was Jurassic Park Trespasser in 1998. Before this games release most death animations were pre-built sprites that would react based on pre-determined hit points. The rag doll addition would make objects fall and act differently based on the environment.
And who could forget this? The first time video games entered Hollywood.
We cover a couple of the games from the 90s that are still iconic to this day. Check them out.
Personally my favorite games come from the 90s. These include Metal Gear Solid, Doom, and Crash Bandicoot. I frequented them all, along with Sonic, my entire childhood.
In fact you can celebrate the 90’s and Play Sonic online.
2000 And Beyond
2000 and beyond is when all the technology from previous generations began coming together to create even better experiences.
Of course the biggest addition would be when Microsoft released the original Xbox in November of 2001. This was not only the first step for Microsoft to become an industry leader, but it also signaled the doom of Sega as a console maker as the Dreamcast would die shortly after.
PC users won’t get left out either as the highly successful Steam platform was introduced in 2003!
Some of the greatest successes, and firsts, for the new generation of video games included the addition of peripherals. No longer were people expected to simply use a controller as the video game world was evolving. Many people will remember the use of plastic instruments to jam out to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, while others might remember toy guns making a return. Sony also introduced the PlayStation Eye for the first time in October of 2007, which has evolved and been translated by rival companies. Being involved in games became so popular that Nintendo had their most successful console to date with the introduction of motion control gaming via the Wii in 2006. The Wii alone has moved over 100 million units. The Wii wouldn’t topple Sony’s might though, considering an earlier generation console the PS2 (released in 2000) had sold over 150 million units.
Early in the 2000s several companies began developing virtual reality technology that is being used in modern day VR sets. The technology for VR actually dates back to 1950, with several poor attempts throughout the decades, but it was in 2010 that haptic feedback and advanced sensors began to come into play. Haptic feedback is the addition of vibration and other senses when playing a VR title.
All that being said the game that has to stick out for the 2000’s has to be Halo. Halo released in 2001 for the original Xbox, and the franchise is still one of the most played games on Xbox Live.
Being the 2000’s are still in limelight it is hard to find a free, legal, way to play some of the more iconic games in this era. Then I remembered, World of Warcraft took up most of our time during these years and that led to several similar MMO titles that are free. So if you want to celebrate perhaps check out League of Legends.
My personal way of celebrating the 2000’s can be accomplished with one franchise, Metal Gear Solid. If you start with MGS2 and work your way up to MGSV, you can truly see how the 2000’s have evolved from start to finish, in almost every way. No other franchise will demonstrate that better.
By the way, has anyone seen Half Life 3? Anyone?
Overall video games do have a long history and most of us have gotten to be a part of the major part of it. Heck some could argue that we are in the climax of video game glory right now, but National Video Game Day is a good way to celebrate the success of the industry. Let us know, how will you be celebrating video game history?