If you are ever looking for an easy way to explain how far computer technology has come, look no further than the world of video games. Over the past 40 years the advances that have taken place in the world of video games are mind-boggling; the history of video games has now become epic. Going all the way back to the early to mid 1970s there was a gaming system called the Magnavox Odyssey which was a multi-game system but was pretty much only known for one game – Pong. The watershed event in video gaming history was the introduction of the Atari 2600 system, which was the first mainstream “open system” console meaning third party developers (software companies other than Atari) could develop games (either directly or as sub-developer for Atari). While original Atari games like Combat and Air and Sea Battle were early favorites and quite popular, being able to have brand name titles like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong made the Atari 2600 a must have.
Fast forward to today and systems like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 aren’t just video game systems, they can serve as the digital brain for your home audio/video system. The graphics on these systems have become so realistic that it is quite common for someone to walk into a room where two people are playing Madden football and seriously question why the NFL is playing a game on a Friday night at 1am (the fact that there is more than an 80% chance that these 3 individuals are in some form of an altered state might contribute to this phenomenon!). The budgets for these games have also skyrocketed – the newest installment in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA V) series is rumored to have a $100 million budget. To put that in perspective, the original Doom game in 1993 cost around $200,000 to develop.
This video from Polygon does a really good job of showing what has happened to video game technology over the past 40 years. While there are more comprehensive pieces out there, this one does the trick and it is only 3 minutes (although it’s too bad there are no references to Tecmo Bowl or Madden). Kudos to anyone who can name every game in this video but there is no question this will bring back some great childhood memories for anyone who has ever sat down for a Saturday afternoon (or night) of gaming. Enjoy!