Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Computer Game History: Rebirth Edition (1980s-1990s)

As this timeline goes on, I am beginning to enjoy this little bit of research now as it slips more into current time. Picking up a fair understanding of the origins of something that had eaten away half of my life already, means I can only appreciate it even more.
Anyway, starting from the year 1977, began the ‘second generation’ of video game consoles and thus begins the next part of this history lesson. The age of Pong clones and random manufacturers died away and major home consoles such as the Atari 2600, Intellivision and ColecoVision were released overcrowding the shelves. This eventually led to the Video Game Crash in North America 1983, in which many home console companies became bankrupt and thoughts of the future of video games were highly doubted by business analysts.

Why? There were perhaps a number of reasons but my guess is that, maybe with such a mammoth amount of 8-bit whatever freaking consoles with masses of amounts of cassette, ROM cartridge ‘adventure’ games and blobs moving around on a screen, everybody realised better things they could do in their time such as read a book, draw, listen to the radio or fight to tune in their TVs at night. The important element to take from those years were the new genre based games, namely ‘Interactive Fiction’ or traditional adventure games, a major change in that these games were mainly single player and involved following textual descriptions and deciding what to do next. For example,

“You find a large empty well among a circle of tall trees beside the pathway.

>Climb down well

Inside well

You now find yourself stuck in a dark well with no way back, Har Har.”

You get the picture. Soon all this was replaced with mouse interactions and graphic interfaces but could have set the basis of what became the next part of the evolution of unique game genres.

It took two long, thoughtful, drunken, hard grafted years for the industry to revive and realise its true potential with the Third Generation of consoles. In 1985 was the release of the 8-bit Nintendo in North America or NES for short, or Famicon in Japan. The generation began with games that have now been a staple up until today’s years. They include Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest then followed by the Final Fantasy series and new genres such as the Metal Gear Stealth series. The NES lasted well on till 1995 so even while the fourth and fifth generation of consoles begin to enter the market.

So we now move into my years, and for me and my other university colleges, our best recollection of how games developed through our childhood. However I don’t recall console release dates so I’m going to have to go back to my internet browser to research this. One moment please. Aha, so the fourth generation was underway and major changes was the decline of arcades as 16 and 32 bit consoles began. 2D graphics had improved with key consoles like the 16 bit Sega Mega Drive in 1989, then 2 years later Nintendo responds with the 16 bit Super Nintendo while PC began to make the transition into 3D slowly and introduce even more new genres, Real Time Strategy, First Person Shooters and MMOs.
Swiftly moving on, the Fifth Generation said piss off to Atari once and for all and hello to Sony Playstation(1994) as it had to compete with the new Nintendo 64(1996) and Sega Saturn(1994) slipping out of the other two consoles competition since it failed in North America and Europe. Sony had a lead over the late Nintendo even though they were still a big hit across the globe.

Nearing the end of this entry, a hell of a lot happened during the 90s and I really don’t want to go through it all. The changes from the old generations were mainly the development of fully 3D games allowing genres to enhance and game developers to take their own route on it and also cartridges died and were replaced with CDs. So what happened next? All will be revealed in the next episode of, HIISTOORY!

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