Created By: WaxingName on June 4, 2012 Last Edited By: WaxingName on August 22, 2012

The History of Video Games

A proposed set of Useful Notes pages telling the history of the video game medium by generation

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(This is a proposal for an index of pages dealing with each generation of video games. We already have the History of Animation and The Ages of Super Hero Comics, so I propose something similar for the video game medium, which similarly can be dealt with by generation. If this gets approved, each unmade page will be placed Up for Grabs)

An index for the various generations of video games, telling the development of the medium and notable games in each generation.

(years taken from Wikipedia)
[[index]] [[/index]]
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 4, 2012
    The proposed structure strongly suggests that video games exist only on consoles. Because PC gaming doesn't have generations, you know. For the record, I am on neither side of the PC Vs Console, I just don't like any description where one side overshadows the other.
  • June 5, 2012
    The structure also ignores portable and mobile games which have consistently been more popular than both console and PC from the 16 bit era onwards.
  • June 5, 2012
    ^^ and ^: Don't worry. The history of PC gaming can be included in the description of each page. Also, I didn't ignore portable and mobile gaming. I just used the consoles as shorthand for the markers of each generation.

    Also, if this proposal gets approved, I will make each YKTTW for each unmade page Up For Grabs.
  • June 6, 2012
    I like this idea. I might make some suggestions.

    To borrow from the Angry video game nerd, we might want to call the post 16-bit era the "bit wars" or "bit wars era" as this includes systems like the Jaguar(psuedo 64-bit) and the Sega 32x.

    In this era 3D gaming was new and novel, but far from perfected. Wonky camera control, clipping, poor shading, and generally low polygon models marked true 3D games of this era. This was also an era dominated by what's known as 2.5D. Pre-rendered models in sprite form(Killer Instinct, Diablo2, Donkey Kong Country), motion capture(Mortal Kombat) and low polygon models on pre-rendered backgrounds(Final Fantasy 7) were standard techniques used in this era that took advantage of more powerful processors and larger capacity media.

    My suggestions for the "ages and eras":

    1) Development Age (19??-1978): From the early vector games made from radar equipment, through the pong consoles, to the first coin-op machines. Video games are an oddity and strange novelty to the popular culture.

    Notable Games: Pong, Space Invaders, Nintendo Game & Watch series

    2) Golden Age (1978-1983): Games began to have characters with personality and vibrant colors. Home consoles with a large library of cartridges became wildly popular. Atari dominated this age. Video games become part of the youth pop culture.

    Notable Games: Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Pole Position, Pitfall

    3) Silver Age (1985-1993): Arcades returned with more powerful hardware. Nintendo and Sega dominated the 8-bit and 16-bit home console market. Cartridge based hand-held systems emerged. Video games were now a pop culture staple.

    Notable Games: Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Doom, Pokemon

    4) Bit wars/Age of Chaos/Dark Age(1994-1999): Many new consoles, companies, and formats came and went. Bits, polygons, and technical specs became points of purchase in fiercely competitive market. 3D rendering technology and full motion video began integrating itself into gaming. Arcades used more elaborate and gimmick driven hardware and displays. Hand-held consoles remained popular. The internet and powerful video cards drove a new market to PC gaming.

    Notable Games: Final Fantasy 7, Starcraft, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wing Commander

    5) Bronze Age/Millennial Age (1999-2005): This was the age of the decline of the arcade and the rise of the home console that could rival PC based games. Cell phones became commonplace and started to offer gaming. 3D technology had greatly improved. Online gaming grows in popularity. The big three console makers that emerge are Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.

    Notable Games: Grand Theft Auto series, Halo, The Sims, Madden NFL series

    6) Current Age(2005-present): This age marks the effective end of arcades, the rise of Massively multi-player online role playing games, full online capability in home consoles, revolutionary new interactive game controllers, cell phones as mobile gaming and internet terminals, and actual 3D screens on a portable console.

    Notable Games: Call of Duty and Battlefield series, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft
  • June 7, 2012
    I still think that using console-specific generations is not appropriate for PC gaming. For the PC, the history would go more along the lines of:

  • June 7, 2012
    ^^ They're good descriptions, but I still want to use the titles I came up with because 8-bit era and 16-bit era are commonly used by gamers in general, just as Golden Age and Silver Age are commonly used by comic readers in general. Also, I want the 8-bit and 16-bit eras to be separate.

    ^ Perhaps we need a separate index for the history of PC gaming?
  • June 7, 2012
    ^ Why not group history by decades?
  • June 7, 2012
    ^ Because each generation of video games is very well-defined not just by console generation, but also by the changes the entire medium went through in each generation.
  • June 7, 2012
    Then tell me more how the change, say, from the sixth to the seventh gen affected PC and handheld gaming.
  • June 7, 2012
    I'm going to plug my own list here, but if you look at my breakdown I cover it all pretty thoroughly. Not every age was a huge move forward for every medium (handheld console or PC), but each of the six ages represent a major shift in some way that affected or defined the industry. I lived, played, and lost sleep through most of these incarnations of the industry.

    One thing to note about the 8-bit and 16-bit era, is that it really was one steady progression. The SNES console came out a full year after the Sega Genesis and Turbo Graf X 16. The 8-bit Gameboy and gamegear handhelds were released well into the 16 bit era, and people still played their Nintendo consoles well into the early 1990s. It was a perfectly common sight to see a NES and a SNES or Genesis sitting side by side on someone's entertainment center.

    Also, there just wasn't that big of a leap forward or dramatic change in how games were viewed and played. The 16-bit consoles were more like the fleshed out and refined versions of their 8-bit counterparts.

    On the other hand, you couldn't find many people still playing an Atari 2600 in 1986. It was rare to see a Super Nintendo sitting next to a Playstation in 1996 and so on.
  • June 7, 2012
    Shouldn't that be 1986 for the Atari?
  • June 7, 2012
    Corrected. Thanks. Although technically it would have been really unusual to find someone playing an Atari console in 1886!
  • June 8, 2012
    ^^^ Actually, there were many developments that were definitive of the 16-bit era that separated it from the 8-bit era. For example, the presence of Sonic The Hedgehog led to the trend of the Mascot With Attitude. Another example would be the Fighting Game craze of the era thanks to Street Fighter II. Both of these developments eventually built towards Mortal Kombat and the challenging of Nintendo's censorship and the creation of the ESRB.

    I do have to admit, though, that the real reason I want the 16-bit and 8-bit eras to be separate is that I want each generation to also serve as an index for games made in each era. It will be much more orderly to have 8-bit and 16-bit games all organized into separate indexes rather than have them lumped together.
  • June 9, 2012
    Any history of videogames that doesn't detail the differences in the marketplace, and dominant forms of the media, in various parts of the world is missing important contexts. While non-console home gaming didn't really come into being in America until the rise of the IBM clone, college campuses excluded, and has never really taken off in Japan as far as I can tell, gaming in the 80s was predominantly micro computer based in the UK until around the Mega Drive (Genesis over in the US)

    Which, of course, allowed the UK to have a reasonably vibrant indie scene as early as the 80s thanks to the so called 'bedroom coders' - The tape deck that you loaded (...Or, sometimes, failed to load) games from had a record button, and that allowed you to distribute software via the predominant storage medium for those devices via computer fairs, magazine orders, getting included on the free software tape that came with all the major magazines in that era, or walking into your local game store and asking if they'd sell your game - They weren't typically franchises back then, so...

    (Not sure how it went down in Europe)
  • June 15, 2012
    Don't we already have an extensive pages dedicated to this with Console Wars and Computer Wars?

    I know they're aimed at more of a comparison of the different companies but there is definitely going to be some overlap.
  • June 16, 2012
    ^I know there will be some overlap. This is why Console Wars is included in the index. Each page will be more extensive, detailing the development of video games as a medium.
  • August 10, 2012
    I'm thinking of just launching each page as YKTTW and putting them Up For Grabs soon. If there is no objection, I will do so.