The Early Years
The first recognised version of a game machine was unveiled by Dr. Edward Uhler Condon at the New York World’s Fair in 1940. The game, based on the ancient mathematical game of Nim, was played by roughly 50,000 individuals during the six months it was on exhibit, with the computer reportedly winning more than 90 percent of the games.
However, the first game system designed for commercial home use did not emerge until nearly three decades later, when Ralph Baer and his team launched his prototype, the “Brown Box,” in 1967.
The “Brown Box” was a vacuum tube-circuit that could be linked to a television set and allowed two users to control cubes that pursued each other on the screen. The “Brown Box” could be programmed to play a number of games, including ping pong, checkers and four sports games. Using advanced technology for this time, new attachments included a lightgun for a target shooting game, and a special attachment utilised for a golf putting game.
According to the National Museum of American History, Baer stated, “The minute we played ping-pong, we knew we had a product. Before that we weren’t very sure.”
Onward To Atari And Arcade Gaming
Sega and Taito were the first firms to capture the public’s interest in arcade gaming when they debuted the electro-mechanical games Periscope and Crown Special Soccer in 1966 and 1967. In 1972, Atari (created by Nolan Bushnell, the godfather of gaming) became the first game business to really establish the benchmark for a large-scale gaming community.
Atari not only developed their games in-house, they also created a whole new industry around the “arcade,” and in 1973, retailing for $1,095, Atari began to offer the first true electronic video game Pong, and arcade machines began emerging in bars, bowling alleys and shopping malls around the world. Tech-heads understood they were onto a major thing; between 1972 and 1985, more than 15 businesses began to develop video games for the ever-expanding industry.
The Beginnings Of Multiplayer Games As We Know Them
To cash in on the hot new trend, a number of chain restaurants across the United States began installing video games in the late 1970s. The games’ nature encouraged rivalry among players, who could record their high scores with their initials and were anxious to claim the top spot on the leaderboard. Multiplayer gaming was confined to participants competing on the same screen at the time.
“Empire,” a strategy turn-based game for up to eight players built for the PLATO network system in 1973, was the first example of players competing on different displays. PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Education Operation) was one of the first universal computer-based teaching systems, developed by the University of Illinois and then taken over by Control Data (CDC), who created the machines that the system ran on.
Users spent about 300,000 hours playing Empire between 1978 and 1985, according to PLATO usage records. Spasim for PLATO, a 32-player space shooter, was published in 1973 and is widely recognised as the first example of a 3D multiplayer game. While PLATO was only accessible to major institutions like universities — and Atari — that could afford the machines and connections required to join the network, PLATO represented one of the earliest steps on the technological route to the Internet, and online multiplayer gaming as we know it today.
Gaming was popular among the younger generations at this time, and it was a social pastime in which people competed for high scores in arcades. Most individuals, on the other hand, would not have predicted that four out of every five American houses would have a gaming system.
Gaming at Home Is Now A Reality
The early 1970s saw the introduction of personal computers and mass-produced game consoles, in addition to gaming consoles being popular in commercial centres and chain restaurants in the United States. Technological advances, such as Intel’s production of the world’s first microprocessor, paved the way for games like Gunfight, the first multiplayer human-to-human combat shooter, in 1975.
Gunfight was a big deal when it originally came out in arcades, despite the fact that it was nothing like Call of Duty. It featured a novel gameplay style, with one joystick controlling movement and the other controlling shot direction – something never seen before.