I remember two lines and a dot.
Dare I say, ‘Back in my day’? But I do. I remember playing PONG and being fascinated at the advances of modern technology. As the dot was bounced from ‘paddle to paddle’ or line to line, we were mesmerized much like we were when television first made its debut. But it didn’t stop or start there.
I could take you back to 1940 and one Edward U. Condon who designed a display for the World’s Fair that played the game NIM. Players tried to avoid picking up the last match. Simple but a vast advancement on technology. What made this one fascinating was the fact that you played against the computer. A machine that could play a game and win 90% of the time. It began a revolution.
Fast Forward to the late sixties going into the early seventies and you have the onset of the home consoles. The ‘Brown Box’ started it in 1967; created by Ralph Baer. This was mass marketed later by Magnavox the next year as the ODYSSEY. This would later be taken to higher levels of game play and graphics by Mattel with Intelivision and the now historic Atari system.
Most of these systems used a joy stick with a few buttons and was played in the comfort of your home. But what spurred the greater success of the business didn’t start at home. It started in the arcade with the stand alone cabinet models. Starting with the success of SPACE INVADERS and, then, Pacman and Ms. Pacman, kids began to throng to the Arcades and gave up their quarters gladly to play this new technology. Once again, most systems had a joystick and several buttons. Some of the early games utilized one or two buttons, but, with the onset of the fighting games in the later eighties, you began to see more and more buttons to go with that joy stick. As much as six to eight buttons were added to add to the vast number of attack and defense options in games like Street Fighter.
NAMCO was the first to translate the arcade success of Pacman and it’s even more successful sequel, Ms. Pacman, to the home market! This brought the arcade experience to the homes.
In 1982, Disney (big surprise) was the first movie company to capitalize on the video game craze by producing TRON; an adventure of a man who finds himself stuck inside the strange world of the computer and made to compete for his very life. Disney also made the first video game made in conjunction with a popular movie. This was shortly followed in 1984 by THE LAST STARFIGHTER which featured a cabinet starfigher game that was used by aliens to qualify fighter pilots for a galactic war.
Nintendo then reversed it all back to the home market by starting the home console market with the NES. A puzzle game by a Russian Math-wiz popularized by the name TETRIS became a international phenomenon after Nintendo latched onto it. They made it a part of the packaging in their GAMEBOY in 1985. This revolutionized gaming by bringing the arcade greats to the hand-held market. Nintendo established and continued to maintain their place as the kings of the hand-held games.
Finally, in 1991, Sega entered the console fray by introducing the Genesis and a certain blue haired, wise-cracking hedgehog named SONIC. This began a games race between them and Nintendo that lasted through that decade. Sega attempted to preempt Nintendo by trailblazing into the use of the CD games with the Sega Saturn but failed time and time again due to logistic problems.
1995, Sony raged into the console wars with it’s release of PLAYSTATION in the US. It was cheaper than the Sega Saturn which both introduced a disk instead of the industry standard cartridge. By 2000, with the introduction of the PS2, SONY wins the war and pushes Sega out. With it’s financial and advertising problems, Sega would never recover from the failures of the Saturn and the Dreamcast. But the console war would rev up again with the introduction of the XBOX by Microsoft. This competition was highly useful to continue to up the ante on video game graphics and game play for years to come.
As the consoles advanced so did their controllers and game play. Graphic advanced further and further as well as utilization of more and more buttons and directional pads. Each of the companies took turns improving their controllers up until the entry of motion sensor controls with the Wii. Motion sensory development continued through the entrance of the Kinect by Microsoft’s, XBOX.
Xbox released the KINECT, once again capitalizing on motion sensor to effect game-play. The Xbox ONE , the current Microsoft console, also has a wider range of vision, more processors for quicker reaction and can tell how many ‘users’ are present. It also tracks facial expressions, takes voice command and can even tell how much weight is put on given limbs. At first Microsoft made it manditory for the Kinect to be plugged in online to even play. Privacy concerns has caused them to back off that.
Another growing technology was the advances in cell phone and online gaming through social media like Facebook. By 2009, once again, people who never considered themselves gamers found themselves in the thrall of an addictive trend. Games like Angry Birds and Farmville lit up games in the most unlikeliest of places; the iPhone and Facebook. Hand-held gaming took another leap into the future.
Going a step farther with the growing tech was the smart phones companies advancements in portable computers. The iglasses or Google Glasses began to take cell phone tech to a new level and made our connection with out world very personal and almost totally hands free. Once again, there is a great deal of privacy concerns that has governmental regulations groups watching this tech suspiciously.
And this brings us to today’s technology and the future of gaming. A 3D headset reportedly to be introduced by Sony next week at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Called the Occulus, it has gone through the usual advances in development steming from their virtual theater prototype, the HMZ-T3W headset, offered at $1,000 per unit . Over 50,000 units of the Oculus have been shipped worldwide to developers interested in the technology. And who wouldn’t be interested? If it works, it will be a revolution in gaming. I’m not sure the fighting game community would warm up to it immediately, but a 3D shooter or a RPG in a 3D world? Who wouldn’t be on board with that?
I mean, all that’s missing is my flying car I was promised as a child and, by my estimates, we’re about 14 years behind on that one. But ,for now, I will bask in the knowledge that soon I may be able to immerse myself into my games; living the 3D dream and remembering the two lines and the dot, and wondering WHAT’S NEXT?
Tell us in the comments below what you would like to see as the next big advancement in Gaming! And don’t forget to follow us on facebook to keep up with all the latest! Click Here!!