Video games have a much longer history than most gamers realize, and their relevance going forward into the future seems to grow greater by the day. When thinking on the history of video games, many people would imagine arcade machines of the 70s and 80s, the Atari, or the Nintendo Entertainment System.
In truth though, the first recognizable video game was invented in 1947.
Known as the “Cathode-ray tube amusement device,” the first video game was a simple simulation of an “artillery shell,” represented by a glowing line on the screen moving in an arc towards objects drawn on a plastic screen overlay. The movement of the artillery shell could be controlled by a player working a set of control knobs.
After the Cathode-ray tube amusement device came further intrepid devices. Throughout the 1950s, various simple games like chess were brought to an electronic format. The advancement of electronics technology allowed for basic multiplayer games to be created, though they were not simple or affordable enough for everyday people to have in their homes.
Many of the early video games were specifically designed for tech demos and exhibitions as opposed to personal use.
In the 1970s came arcade cabinets and the first recognizable video game consoles. These platforms encouraged multiplayer and spectator enjoyment of video games, making video games a considerably more personal and social event than ever before. The popularity of early consoles created space for an industry to grow, and, less than a decade later, a surge of gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and then the NES.
Consoles became the primary way that most people enjoyed video games, as they were relatively affordable, easy-to-set up, and didn’t require any sort of inside knowledge of tech like early PCs did. As PCs became more user-friendly, they would appear in homes all across the world, making the way for a boom in PC gaming that has never really abated.
One of the most incredible advancements of early PC gaming came with the invention and spread of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
As more computers were connected to the internet, doors opened for remote multiplayer of video games. At first, games like Sid Meier’s Civilization were played in a multiplayer format by emailing data back and forth as each player took their turn. The game would update each local copy as data was downloaded from each email, allowing players to have a contiguous game across multiple remote computers.
As internet tech grew and evolved so, too, did the games that utilized it. Soon enough, entire gaming platforms existed to facilitate easier, faster, and more in-depth multiplayer gaming. Servers hosted by companies or individual consumers allowed for numerous players to connect to the same game and play together at their own leisure.
Soon enough, gaming and electronics companies realized the value that could come from maintaining dedicated online services for the purposes of multiplayer. Services like Playstation Plus, Xbox Live, Gamespy, Steam, and Battle.Net all served as considerably more stable and easy-to-access frameworks for gaming companies to deliver their works to players who were excited to play together.
Now, multiplayer gaming has gone truly global, with matches of popular games even being televised on the same channels that broadcast professional sports!
Esports is a career that many skilled gamers pursue and succeed at. What’s more is that millions of people around the world carry gaming systems in their pocket in the form of smartphones, which allow multiplayer gaming during transit, in coffeeshops and libraries, and even in the great outdoors.
Even the sky doesn’t seem to be the limit for the evolution of gaming. Games are the subject of considerable psychological research, the purpose of which is to determine if gamification of our daily lives can be beneficial to us as a global society. After all, games are fun; they provide unprecedented efficacy at stimulating joy, motivation, and social interaction that might otherwise not be possible without them.