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History of Video Games

When was the first video game made? Who made it? Was it ID, Activision or Interplay? Here is a short history of video games.
The term 'video game' today is used to describe any kind of electronic audio-visual interactive entertainment. Video games are a generic term for console, hand-held as well as computer games today.

The predecessor of the video game as we know today was the 'Cathode Ray Amusement Device' by Thomas T Goldsmith Jr and Estle Ray Mann. The machine consisted of eight vacuum tubes which would simulate a missile firing at a target. It would also contain knobs to adjust the curve and speed of the missile. Computer graphics couldn't be drawn electronically at that time, and therefore targets were drawn and placed on the screen. There were a couple of other games during and after that time, with the last game, 'Tennis For Two' being displayed at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The game had two controllers,having a trajectory knob and a button for hitting the ball.

The best known game of that time was 'Spacewar'. 'Spacewar!' is considered to be the first widely available video game, and the origin of video games. The game pitted two players against each other, who had spaceships capable of firing missiles at each other.

After 'Spacewar' came PONG!, the most successful game of that time. The game, made by Atari, sold more than 19,000 machines. Followers were other space age games like Space Invaders, Asteroids and other arcade games. If NES had its Super Mario Bros, arcade games had their Pac-Man.

From 1970 to 1980, there were a number of games made by University students on the University Mainframe Computers. Chief among them were 'Computer Baseball', 'Star Trek', 'Hunt the Wumpus', 'Maze War' and 'Zork'. It was during this time that the extremely popular 'Dungeon and Dragons' or simple 'DND' was prepared.

Meanwhile, the earliest video game console was released, under the brand of Magnavox, as the 'Magnavox Odyssey'. Later, the game 'PONG!' released during the Christmas of 1975 heralded the arrival of video game consoles and video games.

The decade 1980 to 1990 is considered as the golden age of video games. This decade saw a number of these games, with new features, better graphics and increased playability. During this time, video games weren't just electronic possibilities, but valid entertainment concepts. Some of the games during this time were Defender, 3D Monster Maze, Dungeons of Daggeroth and Pole Position. During this time, full motion video was introduced to video games in the game, 'Dragon's Lair'.

Video Games were soon divided in various genres like action,strategy, sports and adventure. The most famous adventure games making company was Sierra Online. Sierra's King's Quest, and Quest For Glory were simple, entertaining and adventurous games.

1986 saw the debut of the 'Dragon's Quest' series of games.'The Legend of Zelda' was also released in 1986. 'Final Fantasy' and 'Metal Gear' was released in 1987. 1986 also saw the release of the predecessor of survival horror games like 'The Suffering' and 'Resident Evil. 'Sweet Home'. Other favorites during this time were 'Mortal Kombat', 'Fatal Fury', etc.

In the 1990s, video games had 3d graphics, and they took a new turn. Cult favorites like Doom and Castle Wolfenstien came into being. There were a few of the first RPG (role playing games). These games offered greater playability due to the graphics, music and deeper storylines. Other real time strategy games like the Warcraft, Command and Conquer were also released during this time.

The advent of graphics card brought about a change in the computer and video gaming industry. With the help of dedicated cards for games, games could have a more realistic feel to them. By the time graphic cards had become a staple add-on to computers, almost all games were ready to be revamped and released as 3D games. Some of the cult hits released in this way were Quake, Doom, Prince of Persia and Wolf 3D as Quake II, Doom Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Return of Castle Wolfenstein.

Most of these games are still hot favorites with older and current gamers. Many of these games have now been remade with cutting edge graphics and enhanced playability.
By Roy D'Silva
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