Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A History of Computer Games, part i.

From what I've found out, it seems that Universities, labs, and military bases provided the backdrop for the video games industry. Many overworked students and researches turned to developing their computers into games machines, as a relief from their usual tasks of mathematical calculations, which kind of goes to show our constant need to derive entertainment from things primarily used for other purposes. It's pretty interesting how as soon as the capability was there, computers were used for fun.

One half of the games industry begun in 1951 when a manager at a military base, Marty Bromley, launched SEGA [SErvice GAmes], which would eventually grow into the coin-operated arcade industry which boomed in the 70s. The other half began with the creation of the first interactive computer game on a mainframe computer, Spacewar! in 1961. It was developed by student Steve Russell, and was later adapted into Computer Space, the first coin-op video arcade game by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari.

Tennis for Two was showcased in 1958 by Willy Higinbotham on an analogue computer. About a decade later, Ralph Baer patented the idea of an interactive table tennis television game for his invention, the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home gaming console [he also invented the first light gun game].Pong was released in the same year by Atari as a coin-op, and Magnavox sued Atari claiming that Bushnell had stolen the idea. Apparently it was settled out of court...!

Now, personal history! The first game I ever played, I was too young to really remember much of it, but it must have been the very early nineties on my Granddad's old Macintosh computer. I guess it was something aimed at young kids, involving this turret made of about 10 pixels used to shoot a robot which danced around the screen. Its a shame I don't remember more about it. Also, in reception class we played this really trippy game on those old Apple computers again where you had to join together walking clouds with eyes in pairs based on colour. [Hnn, that sounds...Familiar.]

I didn't own my own console ‘til 1995, but one of the earliest video games I played was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Megadrive, as well as a load of film-based games on the Saturn at other people's places. It was like a super rare exciting thing, because my friends always hogged them and I hardly ever got a turn.

When they first game out, my best friend's brother got a Playstation and we started playing colourful games like Croc and this really weird one called Bubsy 3d. I wish I still had that, it was awesome, in a really bad way. For some reason, said friend also had the PC version of Tomb Raider, but we used to share the keyboard with one of us on directions and one on actions, so we never got past the first obstacle. I re-discovered it a few years later.

So, since this entry is already reaching tl;dr, I'll continue in the next post.

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