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History of Gaming Essay

Gaming has been around since the late 1960’s far later than I had thought, for me I had always thought that the Atari 2600 was the first gaming system known to mankind, and after starting my research I found out how wrong I was. In this part of the teams paper I will discuss the different types of this technology thought it history.

In 1967 the first gaming console ever was created and was named the “Brown Box.” A German born television engineer Ralph Baer and his colleagues created the Brown Box which worked on your basic standard television set. Working with a firm called Sanders Associates, Baer along with co-workers drew up schematics for a game which was called the chase game, and they built a vacuum tube circuit that connected to the television. Two players controlled two squares that basically chased each other on the screen, at that point in time gaming was born. Baer and his associates later added a light fun and developed a total of 12 games for the Brown Box. Fast forward five years after Baer and his associates created the Brown Box, Magnavox began production of the Magnavox Odyssey. The Odyssey was called the first commercial video-game console and was marketed in Magnavox TV dealerships. The Odyssey used six cartridges to play up to twelve games.

The Odyssey downfall is that many TV dealers didn’t see any potential in it and along with the false rumor that it only worked in Magnavox televisions hurt the popularity of the gaming systems. In 1972 Nolan Bushnell founded Atari and three years later in 1975, they had their first smash hit with an arcade game called Pong. Atari sold a home version of the game Pong through Sears under the Sears Tele-games label. What made Pong unique was that it produced an on-screen score and sound all by single chip. With his first system Nolan Bushnell and Atari shot to the top of household gaming. Knowing that some of not anything last forever especially a single game system popularity, Nolan Bushnell and Atari started working on a cartridge based system, one that could play multiple games. In 1976 Bushnell Sold Atari to Warner Communications, and Warner immediately backed the Atari project, and the Atari VCS later renamed the Atari 2600 was introduced.

The Atari was a big hit and had multiple game hits to go along with it, hits like the ever popular Spaced Invaders, Breakout, Missile Command, and Combat just to name a few. Atari was the first ever massed produced home video gaming system, selling 400,000 systems and hitting sales figures of $120 million dollars during the first Christmas season in 1977. In 1980 Mattel released Intellivision, and was the first to take a run at Atari’s gamming thrown. This sparked what some would like to call a console war between Atari and Mattel. Intellivision featured better game graphics and synthesized voices in video games. Both systems brought on other game developers like Coleco and Activision, but with so many of the games being unlicensed games and no household system lead to gaming industry crash in 1983-84 cause in many companies to file bankruptcy. Nintendo, a Japanese based company became part of the gaming industry in 1985 with its release of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

With some of the most popular titles ever like Super Mario Brothers, Metroid, and Legend of Zelda and that of third party games like Tecmo Bowl and RBI baseball, the NES turned the non-believers that didn’t think it was a good idea to get into gaming after a crash, into believers. In 1987 Sega released its gaming system which dwarfed the capabilities that its predecessor, the NES, had offered. It was called the MasterSystem but it didn’t make the splash that many in the Sega camp had thought it would make, due to its lack of third-party games and other things it was the demise of the MasterSystem and the first failing of Sega. Sega went directly back to the drawing board and soon after released its first hit the Sega Genesis in 1989. Backed by many game developers like Electronic Arts, the Sega Genesis opened the door for the first ever battle for supremacy for gaming dominance.

Four years after the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo released its second smash hit, with the Gameboy. Gameboy was dubbed the as the first ever handheld gaming console and had a black and white screen. Tetris one of the most popular Gameboy games ran the Gameboy sales through the roof. With many make-overs throughout the course of history Gameboy continued to stay relevant in gaming. 1990 was the release of SNK’s Neo-Geo a 24 bit home gaming system that was said to be many years ahead of its competitors and its time. The Neo-Geo had one problem, it wasn’t 2-D graphics those were great, it wasn’t its arcade level quality that was what everyone wanted, it was neither of those two things that helped the Neo-Geo fail it was its $650.00 price tag and its $200.00 games that took the Neo-Geo from great innovation to under achiever. In 1991 Nintendo releases the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Beaten to the punch by Sega with its gaming system the Sega Genesis, the 16 bit SNES had some catching up to do. It wasn’t long before the SNES thanks to its technological superiority, had overtaken the Sega Genesis thanks to its big name games like Super Mario Brothers, Metroid, and Zelda. By the end of the 90’s Sega Genesis was no more than an afterthought for SNES who had taken over the 16 bit era and the gaming industry. It wasn’t till the year 1995 that Nintendo again was challenged for its gaming dominance. Sony introduced the Sony PlayStation a 32 bit CD-ROM based technology and has been said to be the most popular gaming system ever. The games had three dimensional gameplay much better than the 2-D of the past. What was the most attraction to any gamer was the price of the games which dramatically dropped compared to those of cartridge based games. It was also in 1995 the second day of September that the Sega franchise basically started its demise.

This day marked the release of the Sega Saturn, which was dubbed the best worst system, according to many. Because it was pushed up to get out ahead of the newly announced PlayStation 2, it gave the Sony corporation time to sit back and polish the upcoming PlayStation 2 and learn from the mistakes that the Sega Saturn was making. In 1996 the Nintendo franchise countered the PlayStation with the Nintendo64, the last cartridge based system. Although the cartridges loaded faster than the CD-ROMS of PlayStation the Nintendo64 couldn’t even keep up with the amount of games that were released for the PlayStation, leaving the PlayStation on top of the gaming for the time being. It was in 1998 when Sega made its final push as a contender in the world of gaming with its release of the CD-based system Dreamcast, which incorporated a 128-bit processing system.

The Dreamcast was the first system that had a modem which allowed for internet connectivity that brought on the ability to play online, download extra content and updated to the system itself. This would be the last time that anyone would here from the Sega franchise in the console industry. In 2001 Sega discontinued the Dreamcast and announced that it would be leaving the console market for good and taking its Sonic franchise with them. Four years after the release of the Nintendo64 and five years after the first initial PlayStation, Sony releases its second version of the PlayStation 2. The first 128 bit system featured backwards compatibility allowing the PS2 to play the older PlayStations games, and also could be used as a DVD player. Not only was the PS2 named most popular 128 bit system but with its release it marked the rise of console popularity played over the internet. 2001 was the introduction of the old guy with a new system and the new kid on the block in gaming.

Nintendo hit the gaming market again going away from its usual cartridge based systems and introducing its first ever CD based system. The GameCube was marketed more for the younger demographics and is said to be what made the system flop and sell short. Along with the inability to connect to the internet it was called a one trick pony and was behind in the gaming world and home entertainment systems. The now new kid on the block Microsoft introduced its own gaming system the X-box. The PC giant used PC technology when building the X-Box which allowed for greater performance. Although the X-Box’s technology proved greater performance when compared to that of the 128 bit PS2 it still remained behind the number of sales that the PS2 had leaving Sony alone at that top of the gaming world.

In 2002 Nintendo stepped back in with the Gameboy Advance and again in 2004 with the Nintendo DS. Some would argue and go as far as to say that all Nintendo did was step on its on toes with how they released the two versions so closely together. By doing so experts say that they made the Gameboy obsolete by releasing the DS so soon. Playstation soon joined Nintendo in the hand held gaming evolution, challenging Nintendo’s dominance. The PlayStation Portable like the Gameboy and DS featured wireless capability, high graphics and non-gaming functions mimicking PC-based devices. 2005 also marked the release of the Microsoft X-Box 360. The processing power of the X-Box 360 was said to be unrivaled, and all came with an internal hard drive, played DVDs and had the ability to connect four controllers at one time wirelessly, as well as connecting to the internet.

The Nintendo Wii was released in 2006 and featured a built in WiFi for online game play, wireless controllers and Bluetooth. The wireless controllers weren’t new to gaming but what Nintendo did bring to the table with their wireless controllers was the motion sensor technology, allowing the game to mimic the performance of the actual player. 2006 is also when the Sony franchise again exerted its dominance and rivaled back against Microsoft X-Box 360 with the PlayStation 3. The PS3 came with an internal hard drive as well and the ability not only to play DVD’s but also Blue Ray DVD, along with its ability to connect to the internet wirelessly and connect multiple controllers wirelessly, it is said to be still atop the gaming industry, but again that’s all in who you ask.

These two systems, PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360, along with the Nintendo Wii brings us to where we are now with gaming in what is called the 8th Generation of gaming. Every year the three gaming giants Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo continue to wow us with different and greater gaming innovation that keeps the rivalry for gaming dominance going on and going strong.

In the last few years the X-Box 360 stepped up the gaming war and has released technology that gets rid of the hand held controllers all together! The Kinect from Microsoft has really stepped up its technology and has gotten rid of the controller period. The Kinect set the Guinness Book of World Record for the fastest gaming system ever and comes highly recommended by many consumers and game developers.

Recently it was reported that Microsoft X-Box 360 is looking to compete with cable television providers announcing that its consoles will allow the gamer to watch television through it. All of the consoles allow you to watch things like Net Flicks and get on the internet and surf the net, but rivaling cable providers that’s a big step. I look for Sony and Nintendo to sit back and wait to see where this goes before they follow in the footsteps of Microsoft, as they have previously done, but I don’t think they will jump right on board with this because of fear of failure and losing money. If you are a gamer a hardcore gamer you have to be excited for the future of gaming, from a standpoint it looks bright and exciting. With rumors of Sony releasing the Playstation 4 and the system having touch screen technology; it has all the gamers grinning from ear to ear about what the future of gaming actually may be. Gaming has already developed full 3D gaming technology and 3D motion sensors and powerful graphics and they look to continue to improve upon these technologies.

Many have argued that consoles in the future will eventually fall by the wayside making way for hand held portable gaming to be the dominate gaming systems in the future. Of course this upsets many hardcore gamers because they don’t see that as being a plus since many like to play their games on a larger scaled screen. With that being said many say the IPhone 8 will probably be the future of gaming and going as far as to say it although it is a hand held device it will be able to plug into a television set or even connect wirelessly to continue to give that big game experience. Many say that the future of gaming is mobile, digital, and cloud gaming. The better gaming system is said to be one that you can take anywhere and everywhere. Most of the time even of if home many gamers are even using mobile gaming at home, some experts say up to 47% of gamers are mobile gaming even at home. Mobile gaming is not just the casual gaming it used to be and has changed the way all gamers view games.

Spending approximately 16 hours a week compared to that of the 18 hours of traditional gaming some say digital is the way of the future and hardware doesn’t matter anymore. The type of hardware you use never really ever did matter, it has always been about the software. Hardware will be less and less relevant in the future and it will be more about the software. With cloud gaming it is becoming more and more of a reality and with two client services already launched it is coming along full circle. The angle of cloud gaming is to offer high definition gaming on any television or device that can receive a broadband signal with even high-end games that can be played on devices that get low power. In a CNNTech report back in September of 2008 had reported that a future release of the Emotiv EPOC headset. The Emotiv EPOC headset is said to be the first Brain Computer Interface and would be able to pick up on over 30 different expressions all by processing real time brain activity.

With this technology many enthusiast say that this type of technology makes movies like The Matrix and the Star Trek Holodeck more of a reality in the future. Me personally I am kind of skeptical about that type of technology, and even though experts say that being able to control a computer with your mind is the ultimate quest of human to machine interaction, I still don’t feel any better. In those movies, well all except Star Trek, the machine had a way to take over. So all I see is me playing the video game and the machine taking over my mind and it controlling me and then the earth being run by machines. Well that is how it works in the movies hopefully this won’t be the case. The goal of this though is for the interactions of machines to mimic the way interaction with humans and they say it will ultimately bring communities closer together, so I guess that is one thing we will have to wait to see in the future.

So with that being said there is no clear cut way to know which way the future of gaming is actually going, but seeing how far it has come since the Brown Box it is very interesting to sit back and see what the technology produces. At one point in time it was all about transistors and diodes and now it’s about multiple processors, internal memory, and real life graphics. What’s more gaming consoles are no longer just gaming consoles they are now the full true definition of Home Entertainment, with internet connection, streaming music and video and HDD, it is truly a new age for gaming. Social media and social networks has become a big part of many of our lives, well I really should say all of our lives. With that gaming has also being a part of that as it is being input into the Social Medias like Facebook.

Many game makers look to theses Social Medias to see exactly what the gamers are taking to and what they are not taking to. World of Warcraft is one of those who uses social media to help them develop more of what they think users want to see and how they want the game to operate and it is actually one of the largest virtual game worlds due to just that along with Second Life which heralds itself as a virtual social world. Social Medias focus on building blocks, identity, conversation, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups, and many gaming systems that can connect to the World Wide Web can do just that.

These gaming technologies give you the opportunity to engage with others from around the world no matter where they may be. Facebook has gaming that lets you connect with others and build a farm or a city and share with each other and allows you to help keep up someone else’s farm, building relationships with people anywhere anytime. No matter what you think about gaming and the gaming technology it has come a long way from where it started and there is no telling where it will go. It is a mainstay in the lives of many of people and I am sure that the technology will only get better or more interesting from here into the future.

I do myself wonder what is next will the whole computer to brain interaction ever come full circle or is it just a past thought. Will Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo continue to stay on top or will a unknown company come along and knock all of them off the throne. I guess all we can do is sit back watch wait and see what that next big technology is and who will be the first to come out with it. Right now it’s more or less of a waiting game, the Kinect was a big jump and gaming technology and, I love to sit and watch my kids play on it, I have even been known to play on it myself, gaming technology is what keeps many of us known and connected so there is nothing wrong with that.

Works Cited
Admin. (2012). The History of Video Game Consoles. computergameoffer.com. Bellis, M. (n.d.). Computer and Video Game History. About.com. Edwards, B. (2009). 30 Years of Handheld Game Systems. PC World. Johnson, J. (2008). From Atari Joy Board to Wii fit. BBG.

Melanson, D. (2006). A Brief History of Handheld Video games. engadget.


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