Five most important innovations in gaming history

Dec 16th, 2019
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  1. Five most important innovations in gaming history
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  4. #1 the arcade machine
  6. arguably invented by the victorians, with their mechanical amusements installed at seaside resorts and various other public spaces. designed as self-service fairground attractions in a compact upright cabinet. built for entertaining holiday makers and passersby with the likes of gambling (bagatelle), divination (mechanical fortune tellers, love testing machines), prize winning (mechanical grabbers), peep show (short films and animations), and performance (laughing clowns/dancing sailors). they gradually transitioned into electro-mechanical games (such as pinball, slot machines, and coin pushers) with the spread of electricity in the early 20th century, and then wholly electronic games as technology advanced with the invention of the microprocessor in the late 20th century.
  8. the arcade machine was the forerunner of the modern games console, as a self-service, self-contained box of interactive technological amusement.
  11. #2 pixel art
  13. vector graphics had existed since the cathode ray tube, but it was not particularly exciting to look at. it was not until the early 1980s that our attention was captured by the bright colourful pixel art that games started to flaunt in abundance. it stimulated our imaginations in the same way that childhood cartoons did - familar patterns and shapes which frenziedly danced around the screen, telling us a story, overloading our senses, and intoxicating our minds like a bag of colourful penny mix sweets.
  15. without pixel art, gaming might not have gained mainstream popularity in the way that it did through the 1980s. pixel art transformed gaming from an abstract novelty into a visual extravaganza. it made games distinctive and easily recognisable. it made games easy to read and make sense of. it made games into beautiful works of art to cherish forever, and for us to feel a deep nostalia for 30 years later.
  18. #3 the personal computer
  20. just as the television brought cinema into the home, so the personal computer brought computing into the home. this marked an important evolution in gaming in the early 1980s for a vareity of reasons. games could be mass produced on compact audio cassettes which were already very common place, and cheap. after the initial outlay of the computer, games could be distributed and acquired for pennies. players could have the equivalent of a whole amusement arcade in their homes. furthermore, arcade machines were designed to provide short intense gaming experiences out of necessity, but home computer allowed for longer and slower paced games to be developed. this was the dawn of adventure games and story driven RPGs, and strategy games that take time to understand.
  23. #4 the controller
  25. games being interactive things, require some kind of input device. on the personal computer the keyboard could fulfill that function. however the electronic arcade machines required a joystick or some other mechanism because they didn't have keyboards.
  27. the joystick brought a degree of standardisation to gaming, in much the same way as the qwerty keyboard did for typing. for many games in the 1980s, the joystick was the input device of choice. even on home computers, it was often more natural to use than the keyboards of the day. fluency with the joystick meant players had their best chance of mastering their frustratingly difficult games.
  29. even today, what object symbolises gaming moreso than the humble joystick?
  31. controllers enabled another kind of home computer to be marketed: the console. these were less intimidating than the personal computer since they had no keyboard, required less expertise from their users, and provided an experience closer to the coin-operated arcade machines. consoles also innovated the d-pad, which was commonplace on consoles.
  34. #5 the internet
  36. the internet has been important for gaming for a number of reasons:
  37. - ability to play online with others. multiplayer games have been popular since the 1980s, via gems such as the gauntlet arcade machine. being able to play online means you don't have to rely on friends, nor physical proximity. it offers a more convenient yet more impersonal multiplayer experience. refinements to the online multiplayer have included matchmaking, to bring together players of similar skills, and leaderboards where players can show off their skills to millions of other players, rather than mere tens. online multiplayer games can bestow players with fame, glory, celebrity status and riches.
  39. - walkthrough videos. in the 1980s, often the first experience you had of a game was when you first loaded it. some saturday morning tv programmes would showcase new games, and there were often displays at local electronics stores, but these were both relatively limited. the 1990s were better with the abundance of 'demo versions' included with computer magazines, but quite often this meant spending time clearing enough of your precious hard drive space, or searching through your floppy disks to find some you don't mind erasing. walkthrough videos simplified all of this, and it was not possible until the 2000s with the likes of youtube. furthermore, being able to see someone else progress through a difficult stage, helped stuck players who could attempt to replicate for themselves what they saw. speedruns also.
  41. - streaming/watching gameplay videos became hugely popular in the 2010s, surpassing the entertainment value of television in some cases. viewers can stare in awe at other player's skills, or laugh with them at their failures. streaming combines the social aspect of the amusement arcade with the convenience and reach of the internet.
  43. - community groups. the internet brings people together, and communities naturally form online where there is a common interest. this may include modding communities, fan sites, discussion forums, game wiki communities, player clans, game clubs, and the like. the games are shaped by these communities with activities like user content creation and sharing.
  45. - patches. the internet also provides a technical service to games, as patches can be downloaded easily to fix bugs in game software. it can also improve the player experience via balance updates, while data telemetry from the games give feedback to developers, to help them make better decisions for their future patches.
  48. @_sorceress
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