The development of video gaming came about from the exploration of electronic and computing technology and the demonstration of its use. The few early noncommercial games are Nimrod and ‘Tennis for Two’ which were played with the bulkier electronics of the time. While Tennis for Two was created using specific electronic configurations, Nimrod was programmed on an early computer. The development of early computing was what all0wed complex systems of rules to be implemented to play games. Only later were games being made to market to a public audience, the introduction of this was first started by the game Computer Space which was the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell. This was adapted from the earlier game Spacewar! built at MIT labs. The game Computer Space was sadly a commercial failure, this was attributed to the games complexity in a market at its infancy. The next iteration was Pong from the same manufacturer, which while simpler became a huge market success due to its playability. Though Computer Space was a commercial failure, its DNA lives on in other games such as Atari’s Asteroids, as referenced in Matt Barton’s article. The stimulation of interest gave video gaming a firm foothold in the entertainment market and spurred innovation for electronic systems of play A big hindrance to early commercial gaming was the ability to fit competent hardware into a commercial product. Often the games used were quite simple by todays standards. The Magnavox Odyssey was one of the first home game consoles and supported multiple games using program chips and surface mounted TV displays, a huge achievement for video gaming.
Early video games were largely limited to either a two dimensional play environment or a none dimensional abstract rendering of am more classic game. The example of Spacewar! had players navigate in two dimensional space, but also had a rap around environment that gave the illusion of navigating the surface of a sphere. Pong also hosted a two dimensional environment, except it was limited to the area of a box court. The early competitive games all required the interaction of two players. These earlier video games share the idea of dedicated hardware as with many modern console games, though for earlier video games this was due to current restraints on flexibility as apposed to an appreciation of optimizing game performance. Many games still today make use of two dimensional space concepts in order to organize play, this is largely due to the ease of which a player can comprehend the structure of a two dimensional movement as apposed to any hardware limitation. Modern games are by and large much more capable of handling demanding game play, this is due to advances in computer technology with system components becoming smaller and more efficient and with computational elements being abstracted so that game designers can be more focus on the actual game construction. This allows for games with three dimensional environments or games that have many operating objects like real time strategy and economic games. This is not to say that earlier games couldn’t be as engaging as modern games, when playing Spacewar! and Pong in class I became very engaged in developing techniques and strategies for playing the game and had a lot of fun watching the tournament play out.
Early games such as Spacewar! and Pong were cabinet based given the size of the hardware used. To this end they were coin operated and placed in public spaces in order to generate revenue for the owner. Arcade cabinets are no longer sold as widely today given the convenience of home consoles and computer games. There are special interest groups that still do play arcade games, but such practice is far and few in between. There are still console games around though with dedicated hardware such as the Play Station and the Xbox, the ancestors to these being the Magnavox Odyssey and early Atari systems. Consoles still keep the minds of gaming enthusiast because it separates the entertainment device from work and business devices. As game systems developed they stopped looking like dedicated electronic systems and started to look more like dedicated computer systems that could extend there range of games and play. Thus leading to the variety of video games we have today, that both learn from their predecessors and improve off them.