People have used their free time to play games for thousands of years, whether that be tag, backgammon, or croquet. The first board game recorded is Senet, a game played in Egypt as far back as 3500 BC.
The first board game, Senet, from ancient Egypt.
The first “video” game, Nim, was introduced in 1940 where players try to avoid picking up the last matchstick.
The first “video” game, Nim (1940).
The first computer game, Spacewar!, was invented in 1962. While most people won’t remember the first arcade legend, Pong, as it was released in 1972, many adults and teenagers spent hours upon hours day after day playing this video game; they were obsessed with it. Space Invaders, a game my father was addicted to, was released in 1978, and created a national shortage of quarters. Pac-Man in 1980, Donkey Kong in 1981, and Tetris in 1984 were three of the extremely popular arcade games that complemented a video game revolution of sorts in the 1980s. This revolution only grew faster as time went on. Mortal Kombat in 1993, Warcraft in 1994, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998, and Super Smash Brothers in 1999 only added on to the growing video game industry.
Tetris (1984) compared to Tetris (2017). Tetris is still very popular, especially in Russia.
In 1999, however, the video game industry completely boomed with Sony Online Entertainment’s release of the first massively multiplayer online game (MMO), Everquest. The Internet allowed Everquest to explode worldwide, enabling people across the United States and the world to play together from the comfort of their own homes. Gamers no longer had to meet up at the arcade to compete for high scores in Donkey Kong or meet up at a friends house to play Mortal Kombat. Mind you, also, that only a limited number of people could play these games at a given time. With Everquest, millions of people could play at the same time (hence, massively multiplayer online game), playing in the same online world together, interacting with each other in a way that was never seen before. Other revolutionary MMOs in the beginning of the 21st century include Halo: Combat Evolved (released in 2001, 6 million players), World of Warcraft (2004, 12 million), Call of Duty 4 (2007, 13 million). In the next blog post, I will discuss the booming emergence of eSports, which have hundreds of millions of players, which just shows how exponential video game growth has been.
Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
The gaming industry has gone through countless eras based on the latest technologies but nothing like what it has gone through with the help of the Internet. The Internet has changed gaming into what it is today by not only connecting gamers across the world but changing the way we view, purchase, and play games. Here are just a few ways in which the Internet has impacted gaming:
Mobile Gaming: Games are no longer bound to a television or computer screen. Internet-enabled mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) allowed mobile gaming to become a sensation. Some games were available on phones before the Internet but usually just hard-wired in (brick, pong). Now, as you know, there is an entire app store full of games, all of which can be played online with people across the world.
3rd generation iPod version of Brick (2003) vs. Dead Trigger 2 (2017); look how far games have come in just over a decade!
Revolution of Multiplayer Games and MMOs: As I stated above, games before the Internet invited multiple players to play at the same time, like Super Smash Brothers, but the Internet allows people to connect all over the world at the same time in a giant global game. In the realm of online games, the concept of MMOs were a huge wave in the progression of video game development. In these games, not only are you and the other players are connected within the game’s world via the Internet, but you can play with other players from other rooms in your house, down the street, or across the Atlantic. MMOs have enabled a social outlet for many people as they get to meet many people from all over the world with one thing in common: the love of the game. As I will talk about in the next post, this common ground unites people together in the same way as sports do, like soccer, baseball, and basketball.
Popularity of MMOs from 1997 to 2013. The peak number of subscriptions was 23 million in 2011.
More Inexpensive Games: Before the Internet, as you may remember, games tended to cost anywhere between $20 and $60. Now with the Internet and mobile devices, people often look down upon games that cost more than a few dollars. Some console and computer games still cost upwards of $20. Despite the low cost of these mobile games, game developers still make the graphics and gameplay fairly impressive. They are able to not ask for a high upfront cost because of advertisements and particularly microtransactions.
Microtransactions: The Internet offers the capability for game developers to provide games for free with the intention to sell “add-ons”, like characters, props, health, and lives, within the game itself. Before the Internet, gaming companies usually only had one point of transactional contact, with the sale of the game to the consumer. Now gaming companies have found many ways to entice consumers to buy thing to enhance their experience with a particular game.
The game Clash Royale makes an enormous amount of money through these types of microtransactions available to every player.
Constant Upgrades and Patches: Patching is now very easy for game developers with the invention of the Internet. Not all of the mistakes during testing may have been caught, and now they are able to simply release a patch to fix a problem that a gamer had found, instantly. Without the Internet, adding patches and upgrades to released games would not be possible without sending new discs and cartridges to all game players, which would have been impossible.
The gaming industry has a lot to thank the Internet for in terms of improvement and expansion. Next time I will dive deeper into how the Internet has revolutionized the birth of the eSports gaming world