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A Brief History of Video Games

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Published on Sep 16, 2013

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The entire history of video games, from their earliest origins all the way up to the end of the seventh generation, in 2013.

Emerging from engineering experimentation, the earliest titles such as Tennis for Two, Space War! and Pong helped to establish the roots of the industry.

Early arcade classics built on this, with titles like Breakout, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Pac-Man breaking into the mainstream and remaining legendary today.

Early PC titles such as Maze War, Zork and Rogue helped define new genres: and while Atari 2600 version of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial might have been disappointing, hobbyist coders continued with aplomb - giving rise to titles like Elite, Exile and Tetris.

The video game crash of 1983 dampened the home market, but arcades remained strong: Donkey Kong, Dig-Dug, Pole-Position, Q*Bert and Mario Bros. all successfully sucking quarters from people's pockets.

The mid-80s saw the rise of the Nintendo home console, starting with Super Mario Brothers and continuing with games like The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Metroid, Mega-Man, Metal Gear and Final Fantasy.

Dragon's Lair use of laserdisc technology gave the arcade unit graphics like none other - but a new wave of 16-bit machines would wow home users, with games such as Dungeon Master, Sim City, Shadow of The Beast and The Secret of Monkey Island.

The 1990s saw the 16-bit machines come into their own, with colourful sprites of a scale not seen before: Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter 2, and Lemmings.

Strategy games did well in this era, with the first instalment of Sid Meier's Civilization and the XCOM turn-based alien tactics of UFO: Enemy Unknown.

Dune 2 saw the dawn of the RTS genre, and Wolfenstein 3D did something similar for first person shooters, and marks id's genre-defining path through Doom and Quake.

Myst was a mite more sedate, Tekken was a 3D rival to Street Fighter, Marathon a Macintosh rival to Doom and Star Fox invited barrel rolls aplenty.

The late 90s saw Nintendo go from strength to strength, with exclusives such as Super Mario 64, Chrono Trigger, Pokemon, Goldeneye, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Sony responded in kind with the PlayStation, and a new era of titles such as Wipeout, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto.

Valve shook up the PC scene with 1998's Half Life, and Blizzard did something similar with Starcraft for the RTS genre.

The new milennium was a good time for PC gamers, with a wave of legendary FPS games such as Unreal Tournament, Quake 3 Arena, and
Counter-Strike - and a host of other exclusives in Grim Fandango, Diablo 2, Deus Ex, The Sims, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.

A new wave of consoles brought some new exclusives: Bungie's Xbox launch title, Halo - the much loved Metroid Prime and Kingdom Hearts - and for a brief time, Grand Theft Auto 3.

Infinity Ward embarked on a remarkably successful franchise with Call of Duty, Blizzard single-handedly popularised MMORPGs with World of Warcraft, and Harmonix introduced a sudden need for plastic guitar peripherals with Guitar Hero.

The PS2 had a couple of good games left in it, with the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4 - and artful Shadow of the Colossus.

2006 saw a new generation of consoles, and a new wave of shooters: Gears of War, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Halo 3, Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Fallout 3.

It wasn't all blood and guts, however - with more family friendly titles like Wii Sports, The Orange Box / Portal, and LittleBigPlanet.

Hardcore games broached the mainstream, too - with titles like Bayonetta and Dark Souls proving popular without pandering to all audiences.

The rise of the indie game was perhaps unexpected, but provided welcome relief from the monotony of the mainstream - gems like Journey, Fez and Minecraft perhaps the most notable examples.

We bid farewell to Gen 7 with impressive open world titles such as Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - and the impressively detailed settings of games like Bioshock Infinite and
The Last of Us.

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