History of Video Games

CS481/CS681
Fall 2007
Summary
● 1931 Pinball machine
● 1971, first commercial
game introduced
● 2 game market crashes
● $10,000,000,000 industry
● Seven generations of
hardware
● What’s the future?

Pinball
● Bally Manufacturing
● Williams Manufacturing
● Midway Games

● Created the production,
distribution, and consumer
channels used by video
game industry
J apan (Pre-history)
● Early coin operated companies established by
foreigners
– Taito, (Sega + Rosen Enterprises = Sega Enterprises)
– 1966 – Periscope
– Imported to the US and Europe, expensive
– Set the 25 cent price for coin operated machines

● Meanwhile, back in the US ... computers rising
Electronic / Computer games
(Prehistory)
● 1948: Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device
patent for electronic game. Vacuum tubes
controlled missiles firing at a target
● 1951: Transistors replacing vacuum tubes at
university computers. Students want games.
– Checkers (1951)
– TTT (1952)
– Nimrod played Nim (UK)
Birth
● Spacewar, 1962, MIT
students wanted to “test”
the capabilities of their new
DEC PDP-1
● Gravity, warp
● Widely distributed by DEC
● Other games were not
distributed (no internet)
Commercialization
● 1971: Galaxy Game
– Clone of Spacewar
– Stanford, 10 cents in student union
– Ran until 1979
● Bushnell, Dabney created custom
arcade hardware for Spacewar
clone - failure...
● June 27, 1972 Bushnell/Dabney
found Atari Inc. ... meanwhile...
Games on Television Screens
(Consoles)
● Ralph Baer
– 1967 – chase game
– Light gun -> shooting, paddles -> tennis
– Prototype played multiple games
– No sound, overlays
– 3 dials for vertical, horizontal, and spin
– Magnavox bought it, and managed to sell 100K units
Pong
● Al Alcorn, Atari’s first game engineer
● 1972: Implemented Pong
– Atari tried to get Bally’s to manufacture it
● Machine malfunctioned during demo because it
was too full of coins!
● Atari decided to forget Bally’s and go into
manufacturing!
● Many Pong clones competed
70s Creativity, new game genres
● 1974, Tank designed by
Steve Bristow
● 1973, Gotcha, pursuit
● 1974, Gran Trak 10,
Driving/Racing
● 1976, Night Driver, sit
down cabinet
● 1975 Breakout, SP Pong
● 1976 Death Race
Golden Age of arcade games (2)
● 1978:Space Invaders, (Taito) high score, no name
● 1979, Star Fire, (Exidy), initials
● 1979, Atari Football, smooth scrolling scree,
trackball controller

● Many Companies entered the business
– Konami, Namco, Irem, SNK, Technos Japan.
– Galaga, Defender, Scramble, Moon patrol
Maze Games: Pac-Man
● 1980, Namco, Originally Puck-man but changed
name before releasing in the US.
– Best selling arcade game up to that point
– First identifiable video character
– Cover of Time
– 1981, MIT students enhancement kits for pac-man
ended up producing Ms. Pac-Man (4 mazes)
● 1982, Namco, Pole Position, Racing, POV
Platform Games
● 1981, Donkey Kong,
Nintendo
● 1982, Donkey Kong
Junior introduced
Mario
● 1983: Elevator Action
Tech
● 1972: handheld TTT
● 1976: game cartridges
● 1977: Joystick
● Vector graphics
– 1979: Asteroids, others (but died after 1983 and raster)
● Laserdisc
– 1983: Dragon’s Lair, animated sequences, interactive
movie
80s
● 1982: EA born
● PCs, game source code printed in magazines
● Commodore 64
● 1983, Snipes, first networked commerical text-
mode game
– Maze War (university research game)
– Spasim (3d multiplayer space sim), precursor to Doom
and Quake
● Handheld LCD console
Crash of 1983
● Too many companies, too many bad games
● So many ET the Extra Terrestrial game cartridges
were left over that they had to be buried in a big
hole in NM!


● Lasted One Year!
Video game consoles (3)
● Nintendo, NES (Famicon), Super Mario Brothers
– Gamepad
– 8 direction D pad with 2 or more action buttons
● 1986: Dragon Quest precursor to RPG
● 1987: Final Fantasy, Role playing game
● 1986: Legend of Zelda
● 1988: Nintendo Power Magazine
90’s (4)
● Rising to match Hollywood
● 3D graphics, sound cards, CDs, fast PCs
● Internet based distribution, shareware,
● 1992: RTS games, Dune II set the std.
– Warcraft, C&C, StarCraft
● 1993: Myst, and adventure puzzle game
● Sim games: Sim city, SimEarth,...The Sims (2000)
● Mods, Counterstrike, Half Life mod
Internet Gaming
● Multi-User Dungeons
● 1996: Quake, FPS
● MMORPGS: Ultima Online, Everquest
– Persistent worlds, large numbers of players
● Java/Flash back to simple games

● Decline of arcades, rise of home consoles, PCs
4, 5, 6, 7 generations
● Sega Genesis, Super NES
● Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64
– DDR
● Sega Dreamcast, Playstation2, Game Cube, Xbox
– Sims, Halo, GTA, Halo 2, GTA San Andreas, Guitar
Hero
● PSP, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS
– Spore Demo
Future
● Where is it heading?
– Graphics
– Physics
– AI
– Immersion, Realism, ...
● Holodeck

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