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Game On: A Look Back at Gaming Over Time

It only takes a quick look down memory lane to appreciate the advancements in gaming tech, and how some franchises have become instrumental to the industry’s continued success.

While technology has sped away from the Atari VCS and Super Nintendo, the fact remains: we can’t live without classic games. Gamers are always eager to find a way to play their favorite titles. And as computing power strengthens, playing them requires less of it; games that once demanded dedicated machines can now run in a simple web browser.

It only takes a quick look down memory lane to appreciate the advancements in gaming tech, and how some franchises have become instrumental to the industry’s continued success.

People younger than Pong (1972) often think of it as one of the earliest video games, but the first specimens of electronic gaming predate it by roughly two decades. Bertie the Brain, OXO, and the Nimrod were all developed in the early 1950s (and there’s no shortage of debate as to which came first). Spacewar! debuted in 1962, and popped up in university computer labs across the country, signaling the viral and commercial potential of gaming.

Each popular release changed the games that followed; Spacewar!, for example, directly inspired Asteroids, an Atari classic. These games helped shape the development of arcade games, consoles, and PCs.


1. Arcade

Before Asteroids, Spacewar! became its own coin-operated game in the form of the Galaxy Game, and helped inspire the golden age of arcade video games, which was led by Space Invaders. Space Invaders sold 360,000 units in just three years, from 1978 to 1980, and was only ever eclipsed by Pac-Man in arcade units sold.


2. Consoles

Building on the success of arcade titles, video game consoles became the main release venue for new games. Arcade titles made the jump, too: Space Invaders was released on Atari, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Nintendo DS, Wii and more. Consoles also saw the release and triumph of Super Mario, the top video game franchise of all time, which continues to add new titles.


3. PC

Tetris changed the world of gaming when it was imported from Russia in 1987. It’s the best-selling game of all time, and has been replicated on every platform since. Minecraft, another brick-based game released in 2009, is in the midst of becoming an all-time classic. It’s third in all-time copies sold, and shows no signs of slowing down, especially as it’s being embraced by educators.

In today’s world, mobile devices are the site of more work and play than ever before. Phones have become a huge outlet for gaming, and the classics reign supreme – the top two mobile games are Tetris and Pac-Man (followed by Minecraft). Computers and consoles are capable of bringing players from around the world together for live, collaborative gameplay in ways that used to be limited to arcades. And now, over 900 classic arcade games are playable simply through JavaScript in your browser. No matter how the video game road turns, throwback games continue to lead the drive.

 

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