Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Task 2: A history of computer games, part one: 1950s - 1970s

This is a brief history of the development computer games games using my own interpretations. (Remember this is my opinion!)
There are two people who have claimed to create the first computer game and I would totally disagree with the first claim but the second is harder to dismiss.
1947 was when Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann apparently created the first video game on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). The reason I do not support this claim is because it was not a completely computerised  game, you had to draw on an overlay to make it playable as this missile based game had no targets otherwise.

The second claim was in 1952, created by A.S.Douglas, the game was Tic-Tac-Toe displayed on a CRT. You played against a very clever computer which used particular algorithms to win whenever feasible. I do not count this to be the first game mainly because its Tic-Tac-Toe was originally conceived and played on a mechanical one armed bandit so to me it doesn’t seem to be very innovative.

Willy Higginbotham in my opinion created the very first video game in 1958. The game was played on an analogue Donner computer which was linked to an oscilloscope which was a type of display. The game was called Tennis for Two and was subsequently played by two people using hand controls to hit the ball over the net. You could decide on the power and where you hit the ball in terms of where it was on the court. This game was awesome for its time and I would be happy to have it as an arcade game on the Xbox 360 or PS3. I particularly like how the game was played on handheld controls, the forerunner of the controllers we have now with our consoles at home.

In 1961, three students Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen saw vector graphics on a DEC PDP-1 computer and were amazed. The game they designed began with two spaceships shooting each other. As the students had creative minds they used a debugger program which generated random pixels on the screen, these randomly generated pixels looked like stars. The three students created a real constellation with moving stars and variable luminance. This looked stunning for its time but the gameplay was too easy. They wanted the gameplay to be more complex with some variables, so they added the gravity star, commonly known on earth as the sun, the spaceships were attracted to the sun giving it another component. I really like this game. It was finally called ‘Space War’, a lot of people have not classed this as a video game. I’m going to disagree; the game was bold, clever and even aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This game paved the way for future titles like ‘The Galaxy game’ and ‘Asteroids’.

Ralph Baer created the first playable video game in 1966, which was called ‘Chase’ game. This was basically two squares chasing each other around. In 1968 he then built the Brown Box which played ball & paddle games, target shooting games, and more. After several demonstrations to TV manufacturers, Magnavox signed an agreement with Ralph to create the first commercial video game console, the signing took place in 1971. The first video game system was released in May 1972, the system was called ‘The Odyssey’ and with it the historical game ‘Pong’.

In 1977 a lot producers of older consoles sold their systems at a massive loss to wipe clear their stock, creating an overabundance in the marketplace. This meant it was harder for new manufactures like RCA to create there console which meant they had to abandon their game console. Magnavox and Atari were the only manufactures to stay in the home console market.