by Yuki Koh
Games have come a long way from when it was just board games and tic-tac-toe. As gaming trends come and go, we take a look back on the origins of gaming, as well as how far we have come in terms of technological advancements and gaming innovations.
The 50s and 60s – A New Beginning
It was the 50s and 60s. Physical board games were the rage, with The Game of Life, Scarney, and Feeley Meeley being one of the many board games produced for entertainment.
Digital games kicked off as simple single-player games such as tic-tac-toe, played on big, now-obsolete computers, sometimes with the computer as the opponent – boasting the prowess of science and technology.
This changed when the game titled “Tennis for Two” (1958) was released, becoming the first game made for the purposes of recreational entertainment. This marked the start of new possibilities.
The Retro Arcades: 70s to 90s
The idea that games could be played on a digital space lured people in, especially with the creation of arcades, which ushered in the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games from the late 70s to 80s. Arcade machines could be seen in every corner of shopping malls where hordes of students spent much of their after-school time hypnotised by the sight of unseen-before, brightly-coloured 2D graphics on screens. These games ranged from Space Invaders (1978) to the iconic Pac-man (1980) and Donkey Kong (1981).
By the late 80s, the arcade age reinvigorated itself through the creation of fighting games such as Street Fighter (1987), Mortal Kombat (1992), and Tekken (1994). Since these games allowed players to leave behind their digital scores, it spurred many players to drill hours into building up their skills to beat the highest scores.
Despite waning popularity, these arcade games changed the face of gaming entirely, allowing companies to further create newer consoles and platforms for different types of games. These included consoles like the Atari 2600 (1977), Sega Master System (1985), and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (1983), which introduced new ways to play games.
From Joystick to Console
With the dawn of newer, faster technology, companies like Nintendo and Sega began producing more home-based or handheld consoles. Many of these consoles have evolved into the well-loved Playstation (1994), XBOX (2001), and Wii (2006) consoles.
While many consoles had imitations of the aforementioned arcade games, they gave birth to many more innovative games that opened up avenues to new genres, like role-playing (Final Fantasy, 1987; Pokémon, 1996), side-scrolling platform (Super Mario World, 1990), and first-person shooter (Doom, 1993; Quake, 1996; Half-Life, 1998) games.
Furthermore, the advent of 3D graphics gave players a different virtual experience from that of the 2D one. In fact, Quake was the first game to involve 3D objects for all its characters, props and weapons, boosting its popularity in the late 90s.
Today, games are further developed by hopping onto the multiplayer platform; gamers can now play with others within their region or the international arena. For instance, multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA) like Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2) (2013), massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft (2004), and first-person shooter games (FPS) such as Call of Duty (2003) and Overwatch (2016) connect players all around the globe.
Thanks to these games, being a professional gamer in the eSports arena is a viable career in the 21st century. Teams from all over the world are pitted against each other in a series of tournaments such as the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) for fighting games, The International for DOTA 2, and the Overwatch League.
Of course, not every gamer is hardcore. Simpler social-network games and mobile games – like Candy Crush, FarmVille, and The Sims – remain popular for the masses.
The evolution of gaming mirrors a book, where every chapter is a new possibility. If so much can change just within the past few decades, we can expect the next chapter of gaming to look completely different in the future. As we dip our toes into the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality, games might take a deeper dive into merging reality with fantasy.