Everything You Need To Know About Gaming

If you have just started your journey into the gaming world, there may be a lot you still need to know. How did it happen and where did all come from are questions that are frequently asked. Before the internet, games were played in the comfort of your own home on chunky consoles with cartridges or tape machines attached. Alternatively, you could keep up with the latest games down at the arcades. Games were slow, and graphics were about as basic as they get. System sounds were commonly used, and the joystick ruled all the other ways to control your characters.

It is told that a couple of pages of code was all that was required to have yourself a popular game back in those days. That isn’t exactly true, but languages were not quite as effective as they are today, and there were no shortcuts. No apps existed to write half the code for you or check for the bugs. Things were indeed primitive by today’s standards but incredibly cutting edge and exciting at the time.

The eighties were a great decade for gaming. New consoles and exciting developments in how games worked filled the eighties with gizmos, gadgets and great opportunities to get into gaming. It was a time of innocence, before age restrictions. It was the era of the geek and the nerd. Everything plugged into a TV and took an age to load, but when it did, the fun went on for hours and hours. There was plenty of choice, or so it seemed, and one game led to the next and so on. But then some kids started to ‘copy’ what they saw in the games, and suddenly the industry had a bad rap it would not recover from for nearly twenty years.

The sort of games that dominated the eighties are still out there today. They were so popular that they have been released for internet gaming and contemporary editions of the original consoles. Dizzy Egg saw several games come out across the different platforms. ZX Spectrum and MS-DOS picked him up and carved out a profitable gaming reputation. Movies like James Bond Live and Let Die saw opportunities to open new channels and make gaming a natural side business for the film industry. Mortal Kombat was one of the most successful fighting franchises to be developed at that time. Pacman, Frogger, Manic Minor, Arkanoid, Space Invaders and Prince of Persia all sat at the top of the charts.

This image was sourced from Flickr

Space Invaders, together with Donkey Kong and Tetris all started life in the arcades at the end of the seventies and early part of the eighties. They migrated into home entertainment very successfully. They were soon joined by Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario Bros. as the most successful gaming characters of all time. By the time the nineties came along, the likes of Street Fighter II had caused some concerns among parents, so games were being written for teens and adults more and more. Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, remained as a top selling series for the whole decade until finally being made into a movie franchise.

The nineties were an exciting time for the evolution and revolution in graphics. Faster consoles with more complex games were being released. Mario went through several graphics improvements in this time and remains at the forefront of graphics exploitation to this day. Zelda was one of the first characters that truly looked good and had an entire graphics world to match. Sonic the Hedgehog continued to make waves in terms of speed of response. The Final Fantasy series continued to release games that kept a strong narrative going across dozens of hours of gameplay.

Other popular games that managed to cross the decades with repeat plays include Lemmings, Doom and Pong. There have been many incarnations of popular board games too like scrabble and trivial pursuits. By the time ‘Toy Story’ was released in the cinemas, there was a bubbling pot of excitement about what computers could do with regards to graphics. Nobody thought for a second there could be any application beyond gaming, but it was the game programmers who proved to the world just how good the rendering could be.

Today we are enjoying all that the twenty-first century has offered in terms of gaming. The internet is an inexhaustible source of great games and is the home of live, group gaming for both consoles and other platforms. Metal Gear Solid and Batman: Arkham City remain as two of the most popular. The Grand Theft Auto series are ranked number one in driving or car games as well. Half-Life and Assassins Creed are hailed for their realistic human and movement graphics. Games now require significant power to run, but for just a couple of hundred bucks you can have that.

If you have an interest in the old skool or retro games, there are plenty of websites like gamesniped.com that discuss them. They will always stay in our hearts with fond memories of childhood working our way through levels, platforms and coin collection. So many of today’s viral internet games are based on these because those eighties and nineties kids grew up loving them. Nowadays, anyone can get into coding quite easily to make an app or a game for the web or a smartphone.

For most of us, we just love to sit and game. The active efforts made by Wii and XBox Kinect have not deterred the hardened gamers from using the controllers modelled on those used since the eighties. Joysticks may not be around in the same form, but most controllers have a smaller version of them. Even the touchpad technologies abundant in smartphones and tabs cannot loosen the grip on the controller. They just make things more tactile, and more real somehow. They may be wireless now, but you still feel more connected to the game than with a touch pad. Old habits die hard, and hardened gamers just restart the game.


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