Of all the things that the 1970’s produced, there’s few that made as massive of a cultural impact as video games. There’s no query about it: video games have been a significant force in society & one of the most popular additional time activities. Chances are if you’re under the age of 40, you played them, some of us a lot. There was Atari, Intellivision & Colecovision. Don’t forget Sega & Nintendo. Today there’s sites that let you download free online games.
& in the event you keep in mind those days of the late ‘70’s & early 80’s, you recall that the games relied on graphic improvements & better ways of shooting the enemy. It was more or less a solitary pursuit. With the rise of the Net & online games however, lots of things changed, including the ability to download games & playing online games, making games a more social activity, with lots of players, or opponents playing each other from different countries. This may be the largest alter – & the latest benefit that games have offered the world.
But what about the early days? How did it all start & what were the video games that defined the period?
Plenty of people think that Pong was the home game that started it all, but it was Magnavox & their “Odyssey” process in 1972. Although it was very simple, it was still the first. It had twelve simple games with graphic overlays. However, there was lots of room for improvement, & that’s where Pong came in to play.
Nolan Bushnell created Pong, along with Al Alcorn, the founder of Atari. Rumor has it that when the prototype was tested at a Illinois bar, the machine broke down after three days, because it was so popular. The next logical step was to generate a home version. So, one year later, Atari released Pong, complete with built in paddles, as well as a speaker. Of work, Pong was a immense success & represented a new stage in the evolution of gambling. Over sixty Pong knock-offs would be produced, but Atari dominated the market.
Next was the implementation of the microprocessor, which the whole industry adopted. Due to this, more complicated systems could be developed. These systems produced groundbreaking & innovative graphical & auditory effects that had never been seen before. Consumers were eating it up. The industry was on fire. In 1981 alone, three billion dollars were spent on video arcade machines & another billion dollars was spent on home video game systems. Atari’s VCS/2600 process remained the dominant player through 1982, when the gambling market experienced a crash.
What were some of the great games? How about Pac Man? Pac Man, the yellow blob that ate up dots & avoided squid-like ghosts, was a worldwide sensation & probably the largest game of all time.
Space Invaders was another brilliantly popular game. In fact, it marked a turning point for arcade games, bringing them out of bars & in to relatives friendly places like shops & restaurants. The premise of Space Invaders was to cease an alien invasion. This easy formula went on to become the most successful arcade game of all time.
Then there was Tremendous Mario, which was immense as well. It involved an Spanish anti-hero who was deliberately designed as a character that everybody could relate to. Soon thereafter came Zelda, Metroid, & other classics.
Rise & Fall of Atari
Atari was the hottest thing in the gambling world in the early ‘80’s. Today, they are a relic of past glory. So what happened? Atari made some bad decisions, & although it’s a little complicated, it’s helpful to understand the situation. At that time in the computing world, magnetic mediums were implemented in the information storage used in Arcade machines. These mediums allowed for a higher memory capacity than ROM cartridges.
In 1982, Atari had the choice to include a disk drive in their systems. The cost difference would have been nominal, & the memory capacity would have been significant. Atari, however, thought that magnetic media was “fragile” for the consumer to adequately handle. Atari’s “concern” for the customer backfired on them. In the earlier years, there had been a very fine line separating arcade game quality from home game quality. With arcades utilizing storage capacities ten to forty-five times larger than home systems that fine line became a chasm. Arcade games appeared to be evolving exponentially, while home systems appeared “stuck in a time warp.”
The public quickly became uninterested in video game specific consoles, & sales plummeted.
This would mark the finish of Atari’s reign of the video game market.
The Rise of the New
In 1984, everything changed. The reason? Three innovations: The reduction in cost of Dynamic RAM (DRAM) chips which allowed more memory, & the production of higher power 8-bit processors, which lowered the prices of the earlier chips. Sega, a new player in home gambling systems, entered the console market with their Master Process 2. The Sega Master process would sell very well, but its success would be limited.
The other key player was Nintendo of Japan. The genius of Nintendo was their promotion prowess, as they poured millions in to commercials. These commercials hit consumers at the ideal time, as evidenced in their sales. In fact, Nintendo couldn’t manufacture systems to keep up with demand. After all was said & done, the Nintendo Entertainment Process (NES) would become the highest selling process in history. They would also become the most infamous, as they were involved in the intimidation of retailers, competing companies, & other suppliers & partners.
Over the next three years Sega & Nintendo would battle for dominance, going back & forth. The consumer definitely benefited from this rivalry.
Today, it’s between PlayStation , the Xbox & the Wii. Xbox has taken the step to combine the past & present, where Xbox “Live Arcade” is a console process that has a “download-like” characteristic where you can buy games by the console itself. One thing in the video game industry will always stay: the classic games of yesterday were great games, helped define an period, & will always be fun.