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The History of Video Games Essay

For many years people have been enjoying many forms of entertainment. These forms include listening to music, watching their favorite shows on TV, and other forms of direct entertainment. There are also other forms of entertainment not only set to entertain but to also cause the person to interact both socially and physically. Video games make not only the person that is watching them happy and content but also they force them to make split second decisions and use hand and eye coordination to accomplish goals and missions. (Anthes, 2009)

The first games created

The first ever video game to be created was made by a man named William Higinbotham according to about.com investors. It was called Tennis for Two. It was played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory Oscilloscope. Shortly afterwards, according to about.com inventors, the next game was created. This game was playable on a personal computer and was titled SpaceWar. This game was designed by Steve Russell. The computer that was used to design this game was a MIT PDP-1 Mainframe. In 1967 a new television set game called Chase was released but it was in 1971 that real change was finally noticed. Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell created the first arcade game that was titled Computer Space and this game followed the same format as the game SpaceWar. This all set the stage for one of the first video game consoles known, the Atari. (Bellis)

Many gaming systems were released following the Atari which was released in 1967. One of the next systems released was the Intellivision which was released by Mattel. The next system to be released was Nintendo in 1985 followed by the Sega Genesis in 1989. This gaming system used a 16 bit technology that had not been seen in any consoles at all until this system was released. This system allowed the gamer to interact with more colors being seen and more sounds being heard in games. In 1990 Neo-Geo was released but since it had such a high price tag of $650.00 and games running about $200.00 per, the only stake to fame that this system would have been able to have, was the gamer would feel like they were in an arcade. The year 1991 brought about the SuperNES which was set to be in direct competition with the Sega Genesis system and by the middle of the 1990s it became the top selling 16 bit gaming system in the United States.

In 1995 an old company started a new venture. Sony Entertainment released the Playstation. This system increased the graphics to 32 bit and started the leading groundwork for one of the most popular video games created called Final Fantasy 7. Nintendo saw that they were starting to lose ground so they created a system that would try to compete with the Playstation. In 1996 they released a system called the Nintendo 64. The Nintendo 64 boasted beautiful 64 bit graphics and showed that Nintendo was still trying to be at the top of the video game wars. It was in 2000 that Sony released one of the biggest consoles and their own personal predecessor to the Playstation. The Playstation 2 or the PS2 for short shocked the gamers with a 128 bit technology and it took the gaming industry into a whole new era. This was the first system that allowed users to communicate through the Internet with other gamers and even have games they would be able play together through the use of Ethernet cables and an ISP. This blast of technology showed room for improvement and what better way to show it then by a computer giant releasing a system as well. So it was Microsoft’s turn to enter into the gaming console war.

They released the Xbox, but unfortunately it was a failed attempt. The Xbox used the 128 bit graphics but it still fell far behind the PS2 in the console war because of price and game selection among other things. Nintendo released a non cartridge system called the Nintendo GameCube. The GameCube, as it was called, used small disks that was read by an infrared sensor and could hold 1.5 gigs of information. In 2005 Microsoft tried to change the mistake that they created by making the Xbox 360. It gave games such realistic graphics and sound and allowed gamers to also listen to their favorite mp3’s as well.

In March 2007, Sony answered the call of the Xbox 360 by releasing the system that even to this day beats out the competition. The Playstation 3 or PS3 for short was the newest system to take the console wars by storm and with its release of so many games that was playable through the systems but online as well, the ability to go online and watch movies through applications like Netflix and Vudu, and the ability to search the Internet, Sony seemed to forever stand in the consoles wars as the leader. (“A history of,”)

Economic problems for the video game console wars

Video game consoles have been a major economic influence in the United States, but they weren’t without their problems by any means. In 1983 sales in the video game industry rose from almost 950 million dollars to 3.2 billion dollars according to doteaters.com and at that time it was shown that 25% of all Americans had at least one video game console in their home. In 1984 all this changed when the biggest video game economic crisis happened. This event was called The Great Videogame Crash. For 12 years the video game empire was strong but in just 6 months it was torn down back to the ground. Three major events caused the economic crisis. Atari and some of the major video game companies all but disappeared and some even went bankrupt.

For one, in 1983, a deal was made with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment for 21 million dollars to create a game that was sure to have everyone running out to buy it. The game was titled ET: The Extra Terrestrial, and although the movie was a huge blockbuster hit, unfortunately the game was the biggest mistake to happen because it cost the company billions in lost revenue. Atari created a low budget version of Ms Pac Man which also, due to horrible blocky graphics, became the second mistake that a major video game company made.

The problem is that many video game companies fought to release on the Atari but none of these companies could bring anything special to the table so unfortunately Atari all but disappeared and video games were thought to become a thing of the past. That’s when Nintendo appeared on the scene and began to set the record straight causing the video game industry to, for one become reinvented and for two prove that video games would be able to make a comeback, and they did. (Hunter, 1998-2011)

Video games and the benefits to the economy

According to the entertainment software division, the video game market will continue to grow by approximately 5% annually through 2015. The statistics on the website show that the video game industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and will continue to be that until at least 2015. In fact in 2010, the United States video game sales reached an estimated 9.4 billion. In a recent study called the “Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 report, it was said that the entertainment software industry’s revenue more than doubled.

Over the same period, the entire United States Gross Domestic Product or (GDP) for short only grew about 16%. (“Games: Improving the,” 2012) The entertainment software industry added nearly $5 billion to the United States GDP in 2009. Not only are video games helping the economy but also they provide a work atmosphere and jobs for the talented people that work there. In fact $90,000 is the mean annual salary for an entertainment software employee, so the job is as priceless as the games that are created. (Games: Improving the Economy, n.d.)

The start of the Final Fantasy Franchise

In the whole process of video game creation there are a few games that stand out among all the rest. Not only are there games that are created but also some turn into movies and books. That is how they become a franchise. Mortal Kombat was a game originally released in 1992. (Greenberg, 2012) It was a game that through later years would see a franchise start. With not only many sequels like Mortal Kombat 2, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but also with movies and even a movie sequel, Mortal Kombat set the way for other franchises to start. Other notable games that have had franchises were Mario, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid and also Final Fantasy. According to IGN, Final Fantasy ranks among the top three videogame franchises. (“The top 25,” 1996-2012)

Final Fantasy: The Back-story

Final Fantasy is part of a video game genre called RPG’s. RPG stands for role playing games. This means that a gamer is playing a character that grows and changes as the game progresses. Final Fantasy was created by a man named Hironobu Sakaguchi. The Final Fantasy games that he created were called Japanese role playing games. When he created the first Final Fantasy game in 1987, Final Fantasy was a small thought in the mind of a man that later would go down to be known as the best creator of JRPG’s. (Boxer, 2012) Since Final Fantasy was created all the sequels had several things in common with each other. For one most of the games included a character named Cid who usually had some association with air or flight. Chocobos were another creation that in some way shape or form always showed up in the video games. When Final Fantasy II came out, gamers were introduced to other new things such as save points, active time battle systems, and some cut scenes although it wasn’t until later that these cut scenes became more elaborate and told the games story in a more colorful way.

When Kingdom Hearts was released it too became popular. Not because of just the game itself but because although it was not a Final Fantasy game it used several characters from the game franchise so that players could feel comfortable in the environment that was created. When Final Fantasy VI was released, it became the last Final Fantasy to be released through the SNES. What came next was a huge jump in innovation. Final Fantasy VII was released to the Playstation and with the new graphics also came something else that players had rarely seen. 3D character models were now being used to take advantage of the Playstations graphics card. Also used in the game were pre-rendered backgrounds and CG movies that helped to move the story along. More sequels were created which involved very subtle changes but when Final Fantasy X was released that is when people began to take a step back.

This game was unable to be released through the Playstation because the creators had even bigger plans for it and so they waited until Playstation 2 was released. When that happened they released a newer and improved version of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy X. This game used all the technology available to the PS2 from live voices and beautifully constructed 3D backgrounds to an immersive storyline that would not let a gamer go unhappy. Since then other changes to the franchise had included Final Fantasy XI which was the first massive multi-player Final Fantasy game and Final Fantasy XIII which was the first Final Fantasy game to be released by Microsoft. In total Final Fantasy has become a game franchise that is able to boast an impressive 89 games and still more being made. (“Final fantasy,” 2012)

Where will video games go from here?

The interesting thing about video games is not only are they making many companies billions of dollars annually but also for some they are increasing their thought process ten-fold. What if video games had never been invented or introduced to the gamers of today? What would happen to people’s imagination of a future world? There would be several less movies out there because there would be no video game franchises. Games in general are good because for the most part they cause a gamer to think fast and make those split second decisions about life or death. Sure the world would not end if all games stopped being played as of today but it would be a lot less entertaining.

One person by the name of Nina Huntemann (Game Over, 2012) said it best. She said “ You know what’s really exciting about video games is you don’t just interact with the game physically – you’re not just moving your hand on a joystick, but you’re asked to interact with the game psychologically and emotionally as well. You’re not just watching the characters on screen; you’re becoming those characters.”

References
Anthes, E. (2009, October 12). How video games are good for the brain. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/10/12/how_video_games_are_good_for_the_brain/

Bellis, M. (n.d.). Computer and video game history. Retrieved from http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blcomputer_videogames.htm

A history of video game consoles. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,2029221,00.html

Hunter, W. (1998-2011). Player 3 stage 6: The great videogame crash. Retrieved from http://www.thedoteaters.com/p3_stage6.php

Games: Improving the economy. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.theesa.com/games-improving-what-matters/economy.asp

Games: Improving the Economy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.theesa.com/games-improving-what-matters/economy.asp

Greenberg, A. (2012). Shocking videogames. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2007/06/15/games-violence-columbine-tech-cx_ag_0618vide
ogames_slide_4.html?thisSpeed=undefined

The top 25 videogame franchises. (1996-2012). Retrieved from http://gameboy.ign.com/articles/749/749077p5.html

Boxer, S. (2012, February 24). Jrpg legend hironobu sakaguchi – interview. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2012/feb/24/hironobu-sakaguchi-last-story-interview

Final fantasy. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.giantbomb.com/final-fantasy/62-194/

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