Game Revolution : History of Gaming


This 2014, October month, the Dubai World Game Expo opens its doors at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In honour of the UAE’s keen gamers, we take a look through the history of gaming.

The beginning…

All the way back in 1940, Edward Condon designed a traditional game, Nim – where players battle to avoid picking up the last matchstick. He put it on show at the World’s Fair and, even though the computer won over 90% of the games played, tens of thousands of people had a go at trying to beat it!

A few years later, in 1947, Thomas Goldsmiths and Estle Ray Mann designed a game that challenged players to fire a gun at a target (though it wasn’t quite as sophisticated as the ‘shoot ‘em up’ games you see at Sega World!).

In 1952, the classic game of noughts and crosses (or tic-tac-toe) was adapted to the computer screen by A. S. Douglass, as part of his research on human-computer interactions.

Ten years later, in 1962, MIT student Steve Russell invented Spacewar! This was the world’s first computer-based video game. Over the next ten years, Spacewars! spread across the United States.

In 1964, thanks to John Kemeny, any tech-minded person could have a go at creating his own computer game. Kemeny created a time-share system and the BASIC programming language, which allowed everyone to try their hand at gaming programming.

Into the ‘70s, and an arcade classic was born. ‘Pong’ was released in 1972. Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn of Atari were responsible for developing this on-screen table tennis game.

If you’ve ever played the classic game, ‘Doom’, you have ‘Maze Wars’ to thank. Released in 1974, this shooter game led players through a labyrinth of passages.

1975, and finally gamers were able to bring the arcade classic, ‘Pong’, home with them in a home version!

Two years later, we finally started to see something that resembled something like our modern-day games consoles. Atari released the Video Computer System in 1977. It came complete with a joystick and interchangeable games cartridges! The games were even in colour! Millions became video game players.

No matter how young or old you are, you’ve surely heard of ‘Space Invaders’! This old-school favourite was released by Taito in Japan in 1978, and within a year, 60,000 machines were entertaining gamers across America.

Another classic, ‘Pacman’, was released in 1980. A missing slice of pizza was the inspiration behind this game!

Everyone’s favourite plumber, Mario, first appeared in Nintendo’s ‘Donkey Kong’ in 1981 as a character called Jumpman.

In 1984, Tetris was born – the model for all those addictive puzzle block games! Just one year later, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released and quickly became a familiar site in households all over the gaming world.

Popularising the handheld gaming experience, Nintendo’s ‘Game Boy’ was released in 1989. 1991 – Another star is born – Sonic the Hedgehog!

In 1993, ‘Mortal Kombat’ was released and prompted the introduction of age ratings for video games, thanks to its violence and bloody fight scenes!

The home gaming industry became really competitive in 1995, with the release of the Sony Playstation.

Into the new millennium…

Fast-forward to 2001 and Microsoft enters the home gaming industry with its release of the Xbox. Four years later, the Xbox 360 was released and impressed millions with its advanced graphics and seamless online play.

In 2006, we saw the release of the Nintendo Wii…finally a console that got us off the couch and moving! Three years later, social games such as Farmville and Angry Birds entered the sphere and hooked in millions of users.

Games to get us moving…

In 2010, Playstation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360 joined the Nintendo Wii in providing us with games to get us moving, and now, who doesn’t love a quick game of tennis or Zumba lesson in the comfort of their own living room?

Developments in gameplay and graphics continue to wow us as we progress through the 21st Century. Games become increasingly interactive and, though games consoles seemed to arrive to make us couch potatoes, the new generation of gamers are just the opposite.