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The history of gaming
January 1, 2017

[Written by Kanta Mirchandani , Channel Sales Lead – Retail, Microsoft Gulf]

Here are the games that changed the world.

1940s – 1950s – The first games were actually experiments, called cathode-ray tube amusement devices

1950 – The first publicly demonstrated game was Bertie the Brain, an arcade version of tic-tac-toe

1958 – Tennis for Two was the first game created solely for entertainment and not research 

1962 – Spacewar – This was the first multiplayer game because the computer couldn’t handle the functioning of the other spaceship. Two players battled their spaceships out across the backdrop of a galaxy of stars, complete with sound effects and pixelated aliens. 

Video gaming would not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, with the advent of arcade games. 

Pong was the first popular arcade game, developed in 1972.

1980s – Pac-Man – Pacman is one of the most influential video games of all time. It was also the first game to introduce ‘power-ups’, where an object gives the player extra powers, and cut scenes showing comical interludes of the stories behind the characters. Pac-Man is credited for laying the foundations for the stealth game genre because it focused on avoiding enemies rather than fighting them, and it influenced sandbox games. This is where a player can move freely and influence a virtual world, as opposed to games with a liner structure that place an emphasis passing different levels.

1984 – Tetris – Tetris brought video games to the masses, being simple enough for anyone to play, but difficult enough to challenge even the best gamers in the world

1990s – Introducing artificial intelligence and stories into gaming

1997 – Age of Empires II – Age of Empires is set in ancient history where the player builds towns, collects resources and trains armies to conquer opponents. Artificial intelligence was introduced to the game where it ‘learns’ how characters will respond based on player interactions.

2000 – The Sims – The Sims was one of the first life simulation video games where the player creates and controls the mind, body and heart of their characters. The game employs artificial intelligence, enabling the characters to learn to respond to outside influences independently.

2001 – 2010 – Halo – Halo is a military science fiction first-person shooter. It is lauded as one of the best first-person shooter games and is considered Xbox’s “killer app”.  Halo has sold 65 million copies worldwide.

2013 – Grand Theft Auto – The main reason Grand Theft Auto is so important is its open-ended style of gaming. It is set in fictional locales modelled on American cities where players are the criminals and have to complete missions given to them by kingpins of the underworld. While traditional action games follow a series of levels, the players in Grand Theft Auto can choose their missions and how they relate to other characters, who influence their outcome.

2011 – Minecraft – Minecraft allows players to take part in the creation of the game – that’s the magic of it. With no rules or levels, it is the ultimate sandbox game. Dubbed ‘digital lego’, players can explore, create and survive in different worlds by using blocks to build anything they want from jungle forts to rollercoasters. Through the LearnToMod tool, players can code their own add-ons to the game, like new types of building blocks or developing special powers for their characters.

This is one of the reasons why Minecraft is the first game to become part of the classroom, with teachers assigning students to work in groups to complete quests to encourage teamwork and problem solving.

2016 – Enter virtual reality! – This is the future of gaming. Although not officially released yet, RoboRaid is the third game for HoloLens and was unveiled at E3 last year. It’s essentially a robot battle game in your living room, with alien holograms coming out of your walls, forcing you to duck and shoot as the first-person shooter.  Spatial sound guides you around the game and you interact with it using gaze, gestures and voice input.

Most recently, Pokemon Go came to light as a great example of augmented reality gaming, where technology interacts with real world environments.

From cathode ray tube devices to augmented reality, the sky is the limit when it comes to gaming. Where will it take us next?

by vportiz

Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Has passion for all things tech – you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and recently discovered his love for gaming. Follow him on Twitter at @vp_ortiz17