Important Milestones

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Video Games have a history of over 50 years and have been well documented. This is a synopsis of the most important milestones in the history of video gaming.

Video games can be dated back to 1952. It was A.S.Douglas who created the first documented computer game “Noughts and Crosses.”

The first American to invent an interactive video game was William A. Higginbotham. He invented “Tennis for Two” in 1958. In 1962, Steven Russell created “Space war.”

In 1971, Nolan Bushnell created the first coin arcade style game “Computer Space.” Ralph Baer, later known as “the father of video games”, created the first home game console, The Odyssey, capable of playing 12 different games.

The first multi-game home console, Atari 2600, with plug-in cartridges that store game information was released in 1977. 1978 saw Magnavox releasing – a console system that includes a full 49 key keyboard- Odyssey 2.

The popular Pac-Man was brought to the United States by the Japanese Company, Namco, in partnership with America’s Midway in 1980. Pac-Man is the first game to have an animated character with its own name.

Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto created Donkey Kong, introducing “Mario” as a character, in four different levels. Miyamoto went on to become an industry giant followed by a string of successful games beginning with Donkey Kong in 1981.

Software giant Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon in 1982 and released its first version of “Flight Simulator.”

The Americans, hitherto used to play games on slow systems with almost negligible sound systems, were overwhelmed by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) released in 1986. NES had 8-bit color graphics, elaborate sound effects and faster game play.

As video games grew popular and addictive, a slew of games that were racist, pornographic and violent to the core, hit the market. This trend of feeding to the barbaric streaks in gamers began with Custer’s Revenge in 1983. This type of gaming reached a boiling point with the release of Mortal Kombat in 1992. The extreme violence in Mortal Kombat, lead to a Senate Investigation 1993.

Following the Senate Investigation, the Entertainment Software Association established The Entertainment Software Rating Board in 1994. This board began by providing ratings and information about video and computer game content. The ESRB has since evolved 6 ratings and 31 content descriptions that slot every game into a particular category.

While the games were growing rich in content and presentation, the technology available to play the games was not as best as one would have liked it to be. The systems were either too pricey or lacked the finesse to play the games. Breaking this spell in 1999, Sega released Dreamcast System. Dreamcast with its groundbreaking technology – VMS memory card/PDA and built in 56kbps modem for online play – was described by Popular Science Magazine as “one of the most important and innovative products of 1999.”

Technology at its best is available in the video game industry. Sony released the 128 bit Play station 2 – the first console to use DVD technology – with graphics capability that was better than that available on a PC. This is one of the major milestones of the year 2000.

Hoping to cash in on the video game popularity, the U.S.Army, gave away the game, America’s Army, for free. The motive was to attract new recruitment for the army. The game eventually became the top online action game in the country in 2002.

While the army was using the video games positively, citizens were concerned about the impact of “cop-killer” games. Deciding that enough was enough, Washington State signed a legislation prohibiting selling or renting cop-killer games to minors. This historical regulation, fining violators’ up to $500, came into force in 2003.

What has been listed here is only about what can be termed as Major Milestones in the evolution of Video Games and does not claim to be a calendar of events in the history of video games.

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