The History Of Video Games Is A Long & Fascinating One

The history of video games is a long and fascinating one, full of twists and turns. From the early days of Pong and Space Invaders to the present day, there have been many different arcade game machines, consoles and a ton of memorable and not so memorable games. 

The First Arcade Hits

Released in 1972 one of the earliest arcade games was the Pong arcade machine. Pong was a simple game where two players would hit a ball back and forth, and the first player to miss the ball would lose the game. “Pong” was an instant hit, and it spawned a number of clones and sequels on numerous platforms eventually including premium home TVs with wired remote paddles.

Space Invaders was a massive hit and revolutionary for its time launching in 1978. Space Invaders was a bit more complex than Pong and was the first game to include high scores. However, its creator needed to develop much of the hardware from scratch as there was nothing available at the time that could achieve this.

The Golden Age

The 1980s is referred to by many as the golden age of arcade games. Games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Defender were a big part of the early 80s and a life changing experience for everyone involved from creators to arcade parlours and the players. Pac-Man while unique delivered broad appeal fuelling the golden age boom and placing arcade machines in every possible location from Milk Bars to Funeral Parlours. In 1981 Americans dropped 20 million quarters in arcade machines. 

In the late 80s, a new type of arcade game machine genre began to appear – the fighting game machine. Released in 1987 Street Fighter was the first of these.

Evolution of Arcade Games

Street Fighter II was released in 1991 and was an instant hit influencing many games that followed. Street Fighter II featured the first versus mode where characters could punch, kick, and use special moves to defeat their opponents.

Arcade games were typically played on stand-up or table top cocktail style cabinets that featured colourful graphics and engaging gameplay. The privilege of playing cost you anything from 20c to $2 depending on which decade making these machines serious work horses and revenue generators.

Needless to say, arcade games and gaming in general were here to stay with games taking players on an addictive journey, this created a sensation with all ages of the general public. Over the next few decades, arcade games evolved and became increasingly complex, with new genres and gameplay mechanics appearing. 

Console Gaming

While the 70s, 80s and 90s saw the release of personal home computers including Amstrad, C64, Amiga and Atari along with gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, the late 1990s saw the release of the first hardcore home game consoles, which allowed people to play far more advanced arcade games at home. The first of these consoles was the PlayStation 1 released in 1994. The PlayStation 1 (PSX) featured a number of different arcade machine games including Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and Street Fighter.

The early 2000s saw the release of the Xbox with titles like Halo which were super successful and took the user to a whole new level when it came to gameplay and experience. Then there’s the Nintendo GameCube. These consoles featured a number of different arcade game machines, including Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive, and Resident Evil, however both were overshadowed and outsold by the PlayStation 2.

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The Future of Retro Gaming

Due to in home gaming, the popularity of arcade machines and arcade parlours have seen a decline, home video game consoles have become more advanced, affordable and addictive as sales soared and individuals, friends and family members spent more time together playing such titles to pass levels and beat bosses and other challenges.

While in-home gaming has somewhat overtaken arcade machines, the popularity of arcade games has experienced a resurgence in recent years, thanks to the rise of retro gaming. Retro gaming refers to the hobby of playing and collecting older video games, often on modern hardware including handheld gaming consoles and arcade machines. This includes games that were originally released for arcade machines, as well as home video game consoles and personal computers.

Today, retro arcade games are enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and are seen as a key part of gaming history. In home gaming continues its popularity with modern variants of retro arcade machines making their way into homes next to the newer consoles.

There is a growing community of people who are passionate about preserving the history of video games. These enthusiasts have created a number of websites and online forums dedicated to sharing information about classic games and their history. 

Want to Know More? If you’re interested in learning more about the history of arcade games, or in playing some of the classics yourself, there are a number of resources available online. A quick Google search should reveal a number of website resources that go into far more detail on particular aspects of retro gaming history. As a quick reference there are a number of Videos on YouTube of which we have really enjoyed including the rise and fall of Commodore Computers. You can also find a heap of info and references on Wikipedia along with a number of retro gaming events and conventions taking place around the world including PAX.

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