Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It was a Triumph (The History Of Computer Games)

Unfortunately, being the teeny-bopper that I am, I’m too young to remember the very start of gaming (My friends reminiscing of the ‘arcade years’ that somehow seeped into the nineties in Northern America, are the only basis I have for things like: Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Pac Man and the very first run of Street Fighter). I’ve seen vague cave paintings of pixel games and heard the elusive fairytales of ‘Pong’ and ‘Atari’.

Of course I know the facts (What little you can really discern from the inconsistencies of any source on the matter); that gaming as we know it started in the 1950s and grew exponentially, resulting in the console wars of the 1980s, until it became the graphically enhanced retellings of Pacman and Space Invaders we know today.

Space Wars

The first game, that I can find, that’s classed as such, was ‘Tennis for Two’, created in 1958 by William A. Higinbotham (All hail, the almighty gaming god) to play upon an oscilloscope attached to an early analogue computer. It was designed as a means of education, albeit an entertaining one, as the user interacted with the ball’s trajectory on screen.

Of course, as all great inventions of the past, and ever to come, someone just had to go a step further. In 1961 ‘Spacewars!’ was created - hailed by many as the first ‘real’ video game. It took a concept that was impossible in real life, and made it possible on computer. It was a labour of love, born at MIT, to the creators Steve Russel, Wayne Witanen, and J. MartinGraetz.

But it wasn’t really until the late 60s early 70s that computer games, as we envision the term, were truly created. Finally ‘personal’ gaming was available. Admittedly it was still large, clunky and you couldn’t have had it sitting in your living room (unless it was the size of a warehouse.. Perhaps I over exaggerate? Just a smidge?), but it was there, and it would grow.

By the eighties, it was war. On a global scale.

Console after console duked it out, some crashing the moment they were launched, others living for years before fading into obscurity. Lack of trading standards meant that pirated games were every where, each console mimicking, and trying to out do the others, until only the most vicious were left.

I, as I said, am too young to remember the carnage and bad adverts, but I’ve no doubt Mike shall subject us to them. Personally, I didn’t start gaming until I was ten (heck, we didn’t own a TV until I was seven or so), my first console being Nintendo’s hand held flagship the Game-Boy Colour. I, like many mindless minions of Japanese TV, owned several Pokémon games. They now sit at the back of my wardrobe, never to be seen again.

After that, it was a PS2 - that I ultimately adored, but lacked any friends who were into gaming, and was subsequently lost - constantly buying ‘bad’ games. It wasn’t until I went to Canada that I started to game in a serious manner. It started with Ocarina of Time, delved into the entire Zelda series, then flitted over to Final Fantasy (I through XIII) taking various meandering roads to things like Mass Effect, Fable - and, of course, Portal.

Remember, it’s in the basement…

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