Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A history of computer games, part two: 1980s - 1990s

Arcade machines
I'll start this blog with a little about the 'Golden Age of Video Arcade Games'.
The arcade game industry entered its golden age in 1978 with the release of Space Invaders by Taito, a success that inspired many other manufacturers to enter the market. Arcade machines became more mainstream  and could be found in places such as shopping malls, storefronts, restaurants and convenience stores. The total sales of arcade machines increased significantly during this period and the arcade game industry would continue to generate a large revenue through to 1985.

I think this growing interest in video games only expanded through the 1980s and 1990s and fuelled the industry, driving forward the move from arcade machines to home consoles/computers. Following the success of the Apple II and Commodore PET in the late 1970s a series of cheaper rivals emerged in the early 1980s. During the 1980s many more home consoles were released including, the Commodore Vic 20 and 64; Sinclair ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum; and Atari 8-bit family, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, and MSX series. These rivals helped to drive the  both the home computer and games markets forward.
At the end of 1983, the industry experienced the "crash" of the video game industry, as well as the bankruptcy of several companies that produced home consoles. It brought an end to what is considered to be the second generation of console video gaming. Causes of the crash include the production of poorly designed games such as Custer's Revenge, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Pac-Man for the Atari 2600.

The years 1983 - 1995 gave birth to the 'third generation consoles' which included the launch of the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) which was bundled with  Super Mario Bros. and became an instant success. The gamepad or joypad, took over joysticks, paddles, and keypads as the default game controller included with the system. The 8 directional-pad (or D-pad) became the standard and is still used in todays controllers.

Nintendo's NES
Nintendo's GameBoy

Video gaming started to really advance graphicly in the 1990s and it was a decade of innovation. Graphics moved from raster graphics to 3D and several genres of video games were born, including; first person shooters, real time stratedy and MMOs. Handheld gaming also began to become popular due to releases of handheld consoles like the Game Boy in 1989.
The 1990s was also the time when the gaming industry matured into a more mainsteam form of entertainment. More publishers, higher budgets and larger production teams working with the music and film industry were major developments in the 1990s and lead to an improvement in games.
The increasing computing power and decreasing cost of processors caused the rise of 3D graphics, as well as multimedia capabilities through sound cards and CD-ROMs.

I think the 1880s and 1990s were the time of great shift in the video game industry in several different ways. Games began to be more mainstream through the advancement and popularity of arcade machines, which in turn lead to the increase of home video game consoles. The huge success of home consoles fuelled the industry and in a relatively short space of time experianced big improvements in graphics and afforability. The shift from gaming on public arcade machines to home systems was a very important part in video game history.

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