Like most of you I grew up a huge gamer, ever since the dawn of gaming time (which for me, was after 1985 with the NES). Before the NES there were plenty of games that actually formed the industry like the Atari and the infamous PONG, but for me it all started with Mario and I felt like I really grew up with all of the consoles and the industry as a whole. I remember visiting the grocery store as a child and hanging around at the magazine rack, slowly but surely video game magazines popped up on the shelf, one after the other, Nintendo Power, Game Pro, Game Fan, EGM, NEXT Generation, PSM (loved that one!) and more. What started as seemingly “kid stuff” was gaining ground and recognition as a legitimate pastime and for good reason. What started out in its humble 8-bit beginnings became a staple in modern entertainment, in nearly every living room around the world in one form or another.
The year was 1987 – The arcade craze was hitting and the NES was bringing the arcade home for the very first time, saving the home gaming industry. Dominating the early 90’s was the battle between Nintendo and Sega – with the introduction of the SNES to compete with SEGA’s 16-bit master system – players became familiar with some of the very first mainstream video game mascots – a lot of them still around today!
The Rise and Fall of G4 TV 4 Gamers (Loved G4! The natural progression of my video game magazine obsession, TV!)
With the console wars raging at home – the arcade craze slowly began to die out – with arcade titles hitting the home consoles with comparable versions such as Street Fighter 2 (and Turbo, and Super) as well as Mortal Kombat 2 (and 3) hitting the home consoles gamers were saving their hard earned quarters and battling friends at home. That coupled with the advancement of the home systems in the late 90’s all but destroyed the Arcades future, not that we are complaining too much (they were fun though!).
The advancement of gaming was not only graphical, but it was quickly turning into a gaming revolution, with access to games at an all time high – they became mainstream, with bigger budgets, leading to more in depth games, stories, characters, and of course, dem graphics!! We started to see true 3D graphics with the introduction of the n64, playstation, and dreamcast consoles ending out the decade – really starting to compete with the computer gaming world that was always on the bleeding edge of 3D. We also had great storytelling in video games with Mario 64, Perfect Dark, and Metal Gear Solid to name a few – games started to become as in depth as movies, serious works of art were starting to become reality, and this was only setting the scene for the evolution we would see in the next decade.
Wolfenstein: Then vs Now
The last few generations of gaming consoles have brought the most amazing changes and innovations to the gaming world – with the introduction of Microsoft as a player in the field, pitting their Xbox up against the likes of Nintendo and Sony, the console wars are alive and well. Graphics are on par with PC Gaming (except the PC Master Race will always be a few steps ahead with their expensive rigs) for the most part. Gaming isn’t just about graphics anymore, it’s about “Fun” – you’d think it was ALWAYS about fun, and it was, but now games have become more than just a pretty face and a favorite character or storyline – gaming has gone mobile more now than ever with the introduction of smartphones.
Sure we had Gameboy and the Gamegear, followed up with the 3DS and the PS Vita, but smartphones really encompass our everything these days – computers that can fit in your hand, and do all sorts of useful things from watch videos to play games like candy crush or pull up the browser and watch some cat videos, heck, you can even DO WORK (yuck) but who wants to do that??
Along with the mobile revolution in gaming, the free-to-play game genre has exploded, and lots of schemes from it infiltrate other games, such as DLC or the “figures” that Skylander’s and others are peddling. There are more MMORPGs than ever now and games are more realistic than ever now as well, nearly photo realistic graphics are in most major game titles like Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Despite all of our sophisticated physics and CGI the retro nostalgia of the old 8-bit and pixel art games are still in vogue – you will be hard pressed to turn down one of those titles if you grew up in the age that I did.
As you can see, and probably already knew, gaming has come very far since its early days, and despite claims that it has slowed or stagnated, this really is just the beginning. Virtual reality is just around the corner, and a new chapter of video game history is waiting to be written with the latest tech like 4k resolution – the coolest part is that people like you and me can join in and make our mark since indie game development has been rising in the past years with successful titles Super Meat Boy and MINECRAFT (of course! duh!) becoming super hits and gathering quite the audience. The future of gaming is looking very bright, and we are very excited to be even just a little part of it.
What is your favorite gaming moment from the past two decades? How has gaming changed for you? Where do you see it going? Let us know in the comments – thanks for reading!