What is the first computer game

From the beginnings of video games to the first computer games

Digital games have become a cultural asset. They have long since gone far beyond the limits of leisure activities and form a market worth billions. As an interface between modern information technology and the artistic implementation of pixels to virtual worlds up to the evolution of the media, they are of scientific importance. If you go back to the beginning, it becomes clear how much digital games have changed and taken their place in society.

The history of video games begins in 1972 with the slot machine game Pong. Although there had been forerunners since 1958 (e.g. Tennis for Two by William Higinbotham), it was only Pong that made its commercial breakthrough. The game created a new category of mass media, arcade machines. The young company Atari and its founder Nolan Bushnell were behind the success of the arcade. Pong and the machines, which Bushnell produced in series after the resounding success, became a gold mine and the game and the company became world famous.

1972 will also be the first conventional one Home console launched the Magnavox Odyssey. In 1977 Nolan continued his gaming success with the Atari 2600 console and entered the growing home console market with Atari itself. An important milestone here is the separation of hardware and software, which Magnavox has already introduced. Instead of only offering one game like the machines, the home consoles offered the ability to switch games. The hardware thus became the basis and the games an arbitrary extension depending on the preferences of the players.

In 1978 the customer took care of it Space Invaders by the Japanese company Taito caused a sensation. The infinite expanses of space were brought to the screen in the form of tiny pixel aliens that now had to be fought. The game is considered to be the origin of the space shooter genre. For the first time there were real objects of threat that had to be wiped out and a controllable character that was constantly exposed to the danger of death. Space Invaders was a pivotal point for the video game industry as it tied into the rising Star Wars fever and added narrative elements to electronic games. Above all, however, it contributed to the increasing success of amusement arcades and arcade machines. Before the Space Invadors, the machines were only found in bars and arcades; only then did the machines spread to practices, shops, etc.

In 1980 the deviation from the space game succeeds with the introduction of Pac-Man by Namco and Atari. The yellow disc, which collects points with insatiable hunger and lives in constant danger of being eaten by ghosts itself, must be guided through a virtual labyrinth. Many elements of Space Invadors can be found in Pac-Man: the threat from an enemy, the increasing level of difficulty, the maneuverable character, etc. Pac-Man is clearly to be prescribed in a humorous way. For the first time, the maze as a playing field reveals several options for the player to act. And for the first time ever a game character was given a name, which made it usable beyond the horizon of video games. So Pac-Man dolls, cartoons, cups, cereal and drinks come onto the market. Pac-Man became an icon in the game industry.

Atari lost more and more paying customers in the 80s as their games wear off and there are now many competitors with similar products on the market. One of the reasons why 1982 became the Video game crash comes on the stock exchanges. Atari and the whole industry seem to have come to an end. The video game crash, however, marks the beginning of a new era, which is still in its infancy, that of the home computer.

Instead of connecting a console to a television set, as in a video game, computers form independent units that offer multiple uses. The Commodore 64, which appeared in 1982 and is mainly used for games and software development, is particularly famous. Even if the triumphant advance of computer games began from here, video games still hold their place among electronic games to this day.

1985 was the year of heroes in video games. The popular jump-n-run game Super mario bros. is being released in Japan by Nintendo. Almost more than 200 different Mario versions have sold 300 million times to date. The predecessors Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., which were still played in arcades, were still trapped in the rigid screen. Super Mario amazes with the now so natural side scrolling. The game came out with the Nintendo Entertainment System console. Unlike the previous generation of game consoles that relied on joysticks for movement, the NES came with the now common game pads.

At about the same time, an equally formative game emerges, but for a completely different genre and medium. In 1984 the two English hobby programmers, David Braben and Ian Bell, succeeded in creating a game with almost unlimited possibilities, the science fiction computer game Elite, which can also be played on the Commodore 64. The first approach to 3D and a principle called “open world” complete the game. The player can immerse himself in the vastness of digital space in the form of over a thousand planets and several galaxies. The computer game Elite is paving the way into a new dimension and is considered to be the formulator for today's open-world games.

Another classic was created in 1989, precisely because it was cloned infinitely often and transferred to every possible device (from consoles and computers to today's smartphones). We're talking about Tetris. Tetris leads to the emergence of casual gaming, a type of game that is characterized by light technical requirements and low investment of time. Alexei Paschitnow develops Tetris as an electronic variation on his favorite puzzle. Nintendo saw the great potential, bought the rights and thus helped their mobile game console, the Gameboy, to achieve a breakthrough. Despite technical innovations, Tetris has retained its original gameplay (apart from minor deviations) to this day.


Author: Lena Funk



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