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Video Games History


The history of video games could be traced back to the early 1950s though it is somehow difficult to pinpoint the first video game ever created. The development of the computer from the date of invention through the later part of the twentieth century up to the present time occurred as generations which had distinct characteristics in terms of software, hardware and base technology. For the greater part of two decades, the development of computer games was limited firstly in being created at all and then later from being commercialized. This restriction came from the peculiarities of the available computer technology as at that time. Mainframe computers were the only computers then that had the capacity to be used in the development of computer games and only the largest corporations and government departments could afford to buy them. This was because they were highly expensive, occupied large amounts of space and needed the employment and maintenance of highly trained personnel for their operation. The result of this was that mainframes could only be used for serious work such as business applications and scientific research and access to them was limited to a few persons.

Early History

When computer games began to be developed, they started out mostly as research efforts by students of computer science and artificial intelligence in their quest for academic qualification. The other set of people who engaged in the development of video games were military authorities who were mostly interested in using the capabilities of computers to create games that simulated war and battle situations and strategies, that is video war games. Among the earliest video games developed in the early 1950s were Bertie the Brain created in 1950, The Nimrod created in 1951, the OXO developed in 1952, and the Hutspiel game created in 1955.

Commercialization of the Video Game

One thing that must be noted about these early video games was that they were generally not available to the public. This was because these video games were mostly developed as part of academic and military research efforts and, therefore, the focus was not on the commercialization. Apart from these reasons, early video games required expensive hardware for their running and so were not commercially viable for public consumption. All of these challenges changed with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. This game was the first video that satisfied all the criteria for being classified as a video game. This game transmitted manipulable video signals to a television screen for the purpose of electronic game entertainment. However, this game experienced limited commercial success; selling about a hundred thousand units out of around a hundred and forty thousand units initially produced. Commercial success of the Magnavox Odyssey was partly hindered by its cost per unit. Many considered this video game expensive at about a hundred dollars per one.

The Boom in the Video Game Market

The release of Pong in 1972 signalled the first commercially successful video game. The advent of the Read-only-Memory chips that allow consumers to amass video games on game cartridges paved the way for video games to become commercially successful. Since then till this time, eight generations of computer games have been developed and video gaming is very much a part of our modern culture.