Video games: The mainstream mainstayFeature of the week
It’s hard to think back to a time without video games, indeed they have become the main form of entertainment in many people’s lives and it is an industry that appears to be resilient. One of the interesting facts about the 2008 financial crisis is that the video games industry was hardly affected. It shows that when people are feeling worried or anxious about major changes in the world around them, they turn to a video game for their escapism and comfort.
Part of modern lifestyle
Game playing is now a massive part of the modern lifestyle and it would be hard to find a household that doesn’t have at least on games device whether it’s a tablet, handheld console, main console or even mobile phone apps. The game industry is worth a reported $108.9 billion as of 2017 with the appetite for games not appearing to be slowing as this figure represents a $7.8 billion increase from the year before.
We all like to sit in front of a console or our mobile phone and play a game to pass the time and recent years have seen a wide variety of games available across different platforms from apps such as Candy Crush to riskier games such as Omnia Casino offer gamers the opportunity to earn real cash from their victories, a notion a million miles away from the retro arcade games of the 1980s and even earlier.
Early developments in the video games industry
Tracing the very start of the industry is hard but the general consensus is that the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device, invented by Thomas T Goldsmith Jnr in 1947 was one of the first. It was inspired by radar and allowed users to control a vector-drawn dot that simulated the firing of missiles at targets that were hand drawn on the screen.
There were many different kinds of machine similar to this in and around the 1950s but video gaming in these early days was far from the norm or mainstream. It wasn’t until 1971 that Computer Space, developed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, became the first commercially sold video game that was coin operated. It was featured in the 1973 film Soylent Green and then followed the Magnavox Odyssey which was the first home games console that used a standard television for the screen.
Consoles the key
The turning point and the spark that kicked of the beginning of the video game industry was when Atari released their arcade console known as Pong in 1972 which was a commercial success. This was followed in 1975 by a home version which led to a dramatic rise in the popularity of video games.
You could argue that this is what pushed gaming into the mainstream as the commercial success of the Pong led to many other companies releasing clone versions. There was such an overload on the market that it actually had a crash in 1977 due to saturation but recovered in 1978 with the release of the classic game Space Invaders. Following this was an era known by the game industry as the “golden age” which saw arcade machine popping up everywhere in places like restaurants and shopping malls.
The modern era
There was another crash in 1983 but the Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which sparked a massive increase of home console playing and the development of more sophisticated games.
Nintendo are still going strong today having recently released the Nintendo Switch that sees a home console that can be made mobile. The mobile and iGaming industries are now a massive player in the market leading to games on mobile devices becoming very popular. Online gaming and mobile phone apps are a popular part of that growth into this new market with a broader range of demographic playing games than ever before.
With established consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation still hugely popular it will be interesting to see where the games industry goes next. New technologies are regularly appearing on the market and virtual reality will an exciting new aspect of game playing in the coming years so if you are games fan there is plenty to look forward to.
The editorial unit