Sunday, 18 October 2009

History of Computer Games: 1980s – 1990s

In the early 80s the realisation that the games could be played within a home environment rather than in an arcade became more prominent. The earliest of these games were simply clones of existing arcade games, which were published at a fairly low cost. However the low publishing costs allowed the platform for some innovative and unique games to be developed. In 1982 some of the iconic 8-bit gaming computers emerged; Commodore 64, Apple II and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. These computers began to take over the Intellivision and ColecoVision consoles.

The Atari ST and Commodore Amiga arrived soon after, in 1985. These where a big jump from the initial 8-bit machines and 16-bit consoles meant much more technical games could be created. However in the same year 8-bit consoles became much more of an appealing prospect for gamers with the release of the much loved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Sega Master System. With these consoles been introduced it was a significant leap as it meant the gamepad would be the default game controller to be included with new console systems in replace of keyboards, joysticks and paddles.

The 1980s also meant many genre-defining games, for example games like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros led the way in terms of platform games. Fighting games where innovative, one that sticks out in mind from this decade is street fighter. Metal gear was made in 1987 and is considered to be the progenitor of the stealth game. Completely fresh ideas like Pac-Man also highlights my point that a lot of revolutionary games where developed in this time period regardless of how pixelated they were.

The 1990’s marked a point in gaming history where the traditional two dimensional pixel games would be replaced by a much more aesthetically pleasing three dimensional graphic. These 16-bit and 32-bit consoles along with 3D graphics mean home video games edging closer to the level of graphics that were on offer in arcades. Home consoles began to be much more popular in this decade. The rivalry within the industry during the 90s helped the development of consoles, as Mario (Nintendo) and Sonic (Sega) locked horns it meant the two were constantly trying ‘out-do’ each other. The Sega Megadrive took consoles into fourth generation and in response Nintendo released the Super NES.

Later in 90s 64 bit consoles swiftly became the next big thing with the Playstation quickly outselling all its competitors. Nintendo attempted to combat this domination with the release of the Nintendo 64. From this point on Sony had become the leader in the market and an extensive list of my favourite games where released which defined my childhood... However, I’ll save that for another blog.

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