Video Game History Month 2010

Celebrate Video Game History Month with a sampling of the people, hardware, and events that made the industry what it is today.

Letter From the Editor

As you've probably noticed, it has been a surprisingly busy start to the year. One of the things we've been doing in these parts is thinking about doing some bigger stuff like what's kicking off today: Video Game History Month. What is it? Well, as of right now, it's going to be a weekly sampling of highlights and lowlights in video game history. It's surreal to think that video games are almost 40 years old--if you count back from 1972 when Pong debuted. The medium has gone through an incredibly fast evolution in these past decades--from simple pixels to the photo-realistic visuals that people have now come to expect.

So, we all got to thinking that we should find some time once a year to start looking back, which brings us to this idea of Video Game History Month. Every Thursday of this month, we'll be putting up video pieces that look back at some key games, people, events, and hardware from the history of games. Each Friday this month, we'll have a photo feature that looks at some fun moments in game history. While this isn't going to be a chronological run through history--it's more of a random sampling of stuff we think is notable and interesting--there's actually a reason for that: We've got much bigger plans for this idea in the years to come, and this is just the kickoff.

Why do it? A few reasons, really. Initially, it all had to do with preserving this unique interactive art form (sorry, Roger Ebert!) and highlighting the ways it has affected people who play games, as well as popular culture as a whole. There are now several generations of people out there who have found a connection with games. It's also pretty incredible to think that our little hobby now spans the entire globe. With such a monumental task ahead of us, we're just starting to highlight the full spectrum of games and how they've grown.

To be honest, though, another motivating factor for us is to try to make this an educational experience. Most, if not all, of you reading this have a pretty good grasp on the history of video games, but we'd like to think you might discover a neat factoid or two by month's end. However, there's also a sizable group of people who are new to games--whether they're young, old, or somewhere in between. I'm hoping that the new folks will get an understanding of why games are special to us, but I'm also hoping that the more educated we become about games, the fewer generalizations we'll see about them. As a form of popular entertainment, like music, games are probably at the early rock-and-roll (think Elvis' then-scandalous dance moves) stage of acceptance: They're popular, there's a huge group of us who love them, but there are still those who don't understand their significance.

So there you go, Video Game History Month--it begins! Of course, we'd love to hear what you think. We all have our favorite memories of video games, and we're hoping you'll share your highlights, insights, and memories with us here in this blog, on the forums, and in the features themselves.

Ricardo Torres | Editor in Chief

Be Sure to Tune in for E3

Don't forget to check out our coverage of the biggest gaming event of the year. Find out how you can get comprehensive coverage of the press conferences and games of E3 right here on GameSpot!

The Hardware

From its humble beginnings on enormous mainframe computers in the 1950s to the online-equipped, visual powerhouses we have today, video game hardware has come a long way. In the early days, video game console hardware was limited, to say the least. Developers often had to compensate for lack of memory and visual fidelity by coming up with creative ways to bring their gameplay vision to fruition--as crude as it may have been at the time. But as the gaming market evolved, so did its hardware. Consoles and PCs became more powerful, giving developers the ability to create even more detailed and intricate gaming experiences. Control methods also changed along with these experiences. Single-button joysticks gradually changed into game pads with numerous buttons and were eventually equipped with analog sticks. As more people played games, a greater focus on multiplayer gaming also came to the forefront, establishing a need to bring gamers online to interact and play with each other in new ways. The PC established itself early as the primary platform in this regard, but console hardware slowly caught up and began offering online connectivity and, eventually, the online gaming services we have now. Where gaming hardware goes from here is anyone's guess, but it's time to pay tribute to the hardware that helped make the industry grow into the behemoth it is today.

In our final week, we look at the Game Boy--the handheld that changed the face of portable gaming.

The Hardware: 3DO

In this Video Game History Month update we look back at the 3DO--a console that had a promising future with major backing from Electronic Arts. But its $700 price tag put the system in a hole that it was never able to climb out of.

The Hardware: Sega Saturn

The follow-up to Sega's immenseley popular Genesis hardware didn't quite catch on, but it still had a great library of games and proved just how talented Sega's internal development teams were.

The Hardware: Atari 2600

It's arguably the platform that helped launch the industry as we know it today. We kick off our look back at the video game hardware of old with thoughts on the Atari 2600.

The People

In an industry so focused on games and hardware, it's easy to forget that there are countless people working behind the scenes to make it all happen. But within the annals of video game history, there are certain people whose contributions have been so important and groundbreaking that they helped shape and mold the video game market as we know it. These people range from the earliest pioneers who brought gaming to the masses to modern game designers whose ideas and philosophies started chain reactions of creativity that permeated throughout the industry. This month, we're honoring those people who have left an indelible mark on the video game landscape.

What would Video Game History Month be without acknowledging one of the industry's best and most creative minds. This week, we celebrate the career of Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto.

The People: Will Wright

In our third entry in the people of Video Game History Month, we take a look at Will Wright--the creator of Sim City and its offspring, The Sims.

The People: Peter Molyneux

The follow-up to Sega's immenseley popular Genesis hardware didn't quite catch on, but it still had a great library of games and proved just how talented Sega's internal development teams were.

The People: Nolan Bushnell

Self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Nolan Bushnell is widely regarded as the father of the modern console video gaming. As the founder of Atari, Bushnell introduced the Atari 2600 to the market and brought video games to a whole new audience.

The Games

Whether you started playing games on the Atari 2600 or just recently picked up a new console or handheld, we all share something in common--we like video games. And whether or not you're a fan of a particular genre, there's no denying that some games have had an enormous impact on our beloved hobby. This impact can be measured in a few different ways. For some games, it's about being a game-changer (for lack of a better phrase), something that fundamentally changes the focus of the industry and where developers place their focus. For others, it's about delivering a masterfully crafted experience--the kind that gives you an almost indescribable feeling and makes you light up every time you think about it. Of course, some games are just plain fun, but whatever the case may be, we're honoring games and gaming franchises that--whether you're a fan or not--have left their mark by pushing gaming into new and exciting territories.

We conclude our games of Video Game History Month by taking a trip to Hyrule. Since the release of the original on the Nintendo Entertainment System, The Legend of Zelda has kept its top spot as one of gaming's most beloved franchises thanks to its lush worlds and endearing cast of characters.

The Games: Starcraft

This week, we're looking at Starcraft--a game that carried the banner for real-time strategy games and became an international sensation.

The Games: Halo

It's relatively new in the grand scheme of video game history, but Halo's impact on console first-person shooters and gaming as a whole is undeniable.

The Games: Street Fighter

We begin our look back at the important games in our Video Game History Month feature by taking a look at Street Fighter--the fighting game series that not only revitalized arcades, but also built the foundation for fighting games that would follow.

The Events

We see it with movies. We see it with books. It happens with video games. Sure, big game releases and new consoles are a huge deal, but every once in a while, a game becomes so huge and garners so much attention--not just from avid gamers but from the mainstream populace--that it's practically impossible to avoid. As a result of this popularity, the rest of the corporate world wrings its hands while thinking of ways to capitalize on it. We're deluged by clothing, music, TV shows, and movies, and while these things often vary in quality (we're looking at you, video game movies), there's no denying that these phenomena mark important points in video game history.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo has become a staple of the video game landscape, giving fans and industry folk a chance to check out the latest and greatest games. But, whether it was a specific trailer or a new game announcement, the show has also provided some of the most memorable moments in video game history. Join us as we take a look at the extravaganza known as E3.

The Events: PlayStation 2 Launch

It doesn't get much bigger than this. After the success of the original PlayStation, fans were eagerly anticipating the arrival of its successor, the PlayStation 2. We're diving into the launch of the PlayStation 2 in North America as one of the most important events in video game history.

The Events: Tron

In our second update for the big events in video game history, we take a look at Tron--widely considered the first (and one of the best) movies to pay homage to computers and gaming.

The Events: Pac-Man Fever

Did you have it? The first big event in our Video Game History Month is the craze known as Pac-Man Fever.

Extras

Every Friday, our "Extras" section of Video Game History Month updates with photo galleries of the stuff that doesn't necessarily fall into any specific category. These galleries showcase a wide range of things related to gaming history, ranging from an array of controllers to mascots that didn't really live up to their billing. This week, we start with our look at gaming controllers--the good and not-so-good--of the past.

Collector's Editions

From cloth maps to night-vision goggles, we take a look back on some of the best and most outlandish collector's editions.

View images »

Video Game Movies

We're taking a look back at just a few of the video game movies that have caused fans to laugh, cry, or maybe even shout out in anger that we're all mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.

View images »

Forgotten Mascots

Sometimes they were cool. Sometimes they were downright awful. Join us as we take a look at some of the notable mascot characters that have been forgotten in the annals of video game history.

View images »

Controllers

Did you have a Power Glove? Glad to be rid of "The Duke"? Join us as we take a look at the controllers of the past and how their design influenced the controllers of today. View images »

Check back on May 21 for a new entry in our Video History Month: Extras section.

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Discussion

1046 comments
LandauTST
LandauTST

I love story driven games and I just never saw it in Halo. I did see the story I guess, but it was hardly deep or emotional. I bought Halo 3. Twice. I sold Halo 3. Twice. First I didn't even really play it and eventually sold it. Then I decided to give it a real chance and forced myself to play both offline and online. After I finally completed the game offline just to see the conclusion, I sold it again. I never had any interest whatsoever of picking it up again. While I never owned the previous 2, I did play friends' copies, which is why I was so hesitant to BUY Halo 3 in the first place. In the end, I'll never get it. To me every Halo game is the same thing over and over again with better graphics than the last, but I'm not a graphics whore so I don't even care. I have both a PS3 and 360 and I have to say - Halo sucks. Killzone sucks. And CoD: MW2 sucks. I hate MW2. Why? It's not warfare. What type of war lets you go out and worry about yourself? People didn't earn medals by worrying about themselves. Thats why I feel the only true worthy multiplayer FPS is Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (currently, there's always new games coming out and I have hardly tried any but the "big ones". But obviously I'm looking forward to Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam). And of course all of this is just my opinion. I'm not saying people shouldn't like it, but I'll never understand why they do, or, at least why they like it AS MUCH as they do. That goes for Killzone and MW2 as well.

funnysplay
funnysplay

Everyone -Johiden- speaks the truth.

Johiden
Johiden

Wow.. people. It seems like no one understands the depth in which Halo goes and hate it because it is only for Xbox. I bet if it was on PS3 people wouldn't talk bad about it. It's story is compelling, and it emotionally involves you in the game, with its beautifully composed music. It has a HIGHLY competitive multi-player. People are still playing Halo: CE online on PC, people were STILL playing Halo 2 before the servers were cut, and people were are still playing Halo 3 even after 3 years. Sorry for all you CoD fans out there. I have played CoD, it is a great game it just is annoying because it one shot one kill nearly all the time and if you don't have a great connection you're **** out of luck. Even looking at the kill cam you're like, "How in the hell did that guy hit me the bullet wasn't anywhere near me" I admit Halo has it's issues but still it's more of a challenge to play it online then CoD where it is hit or miss. Stop rating on Halo just because it's Human's vs Aliens, which is nearly 90% of sci-fy games anyways. Pick up and play Halo for more than an hour or two and try out the damn multiplayer, and quit your nagging about how Halo sucks because you can't play or don't have the attention spam to play a game that actually takes skill. Don't tell me how Halo 2 and 3 didn't require any skill because the truth is, they were dubbed down versions of Halo CE. Reach is the essence of all Halo games combines with new innovations to make the game like Halo CE.

StrongM13
StrongM13

I just dont understand how anyone who says something positive about halo in here, gets thumbs downed like crazy!!! why are people so negative toward halo fans here?

RobbySpry
RobbySpry

The three races and the weak story being the two reasons for its success is bollocks. The only reason SC got where it is today is because of Battlenet. It was the only RTS game at the time that offered both a practically easy way to play online and a community in which to find people to play against. C&C: Red Alert for example had a terrible old-style connection-page for its multi-player part which turned a lot of people of from ever trying to play it online. The real success is Battlenet, not SC.

nemesis4x
nemesis4x

I think ill have to play starcraft 1 before 2

ApatheticClone
ApatheticClone

@sithodah That's all fine and dandy, but just about everything you said was completely subjective. No, Halo didn't bring anything particularly new to the genre, nor does it have the most fleshed out of universes (its expanded universe has grown quite nicely, however). No, what it was praised for, and still is to this day, is how fully featured and polished every aspect of the game was, on top of a great presentation. What you say about the music, weapon creativity, and Master Chief being a disgraceful character are all opinions with perfectly logical counter-arguments. Why do you think the Halo series has been so critically well-recieved? Hype-machines? Shady bribery? I don't think so. Anyways, I can't wait for Starcraft 2; It's a moment I've been anticipating for the past ten years, and I know that Blizzard will do it justice.

hazza_47
hazza_47

Metal Gear Solid 4. Not technically a FPS but there is still an FPS option

sithodah
sithodah

@Falken_PT You really need to play more games if you think halo is rely all that great, it's not. Master cheif is a disgrace to video game characters. The weapons are all boring assault rifles and laser guns, no creativity. The story is simple, you find ring, you kill guys on it, ring can blow stuff up, so you blow ring up, so aliens follow you to earth then they fight. The universe? The universe of halo is a microscopic speck compared to KOTOR games or almost any game really, it's basically earth, in the future, with power suits and laser weapons, it's the cliche sci-find setting, there is no originality, just the assinine developer bungie. Good developers are Valve, id, and 3d Realms, they. Challegend the market to new levels of realism, creativity, and igenuity in a way that no other developer did. What did bungie do? They made a game where you shoot aliens, bringing nothing to the genre, in terms of visuals, AI, or all around presentation. I'd rather play minesweeper, at least I care about finishing that game. Halo is for people who don't play games very often and this k they're playing a good game because they don't know anything else. Oh yeah, and the music sucks too.

sithodah
sithodah

@Falken_PT That's easy, don't hold halo so high up on the bar, the bar it raised was "mediocre shooter". Better story? Half life 2, it has way more depth than halo, in halo aliens attack or you attack them. And sometimes they look different, wow, my mind just blew. Bioshock, Portal, man, even Doom is more interesting! Better cast of characters? There were no characters in halo, they were 2-bit side orders! But once again bioshock, half-life 2, and duke nukem, man, duke nukem makes master chief look like a ninny! Better universe? Any game. The halo games aren't that deep . Want a good universe? Fallout 3, Half-Life 2, Pikmin, Dues ex, hell, madden games are more compelling!

JixHedgehog
JixHedgehog

Always thought portable gaming began with Nintendo's LCD screen games... But what do I know, I've only been playing video games for 25 years

_Witchunter_
_Witchunter_

@ Falken_PT You can find all of these in The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. In Oblivion too.

Ransu90
Ransu90

@sithodah The classics are indeed still the best and even games like Halo cannot beat their greatness. Games like the Doom series proved that you don't need a big epic storyline to make a game great. I still think today's games are pretty good, but I will always be a classic gamer at heart especially with Doom as it continues to inspire new FPS games.

eccentricwizard
eccentricwizard

Having a feature about movies based on games is cool, but it only makes sense to pair it up with games that are based on movies. Or cartoons, for that matter.

Falken_PT
Falken_PT

@sithodah A simplistic space invaders story and astounding lack of creativity...!? I challenge you to find a game that has a better story, a better cast of characters, and even harder, a better game universe. Good luck. Trust me. You'll need it.

sithodah
sithodah

I hope your joking, halo is one the worst and overhyped FPS of all time. It has a simplicstic "space invaders" gameplay/story, it has generic and boring weapons, and the lack of creativity is astounding. Real FPS's are games like Half-Life 2, Doom, and Duke Nukem 3D.

kenkashijd
kenkashijd

Will they ever make a first person shooter game to match up with Halo....I think not.lol

sithodah
sithodah

Too much halo, not enough duke nukem.

PKA34000
PKA34000

they should make a new pacman game

tyskenfan
tyskenfan

This is one of the best games ever made!

sniper2k0
sniper2k0

I nearly flunk history in high school. Too much video games... lol

alireza74
alireza74

i love zelda and metroid and no matter who love it or not

DSfanatic5
DSfanatic5

Video Game History Month missed a very crucial topic, and it's called The Arcade. Nothing was more crucial to the home console market than the video arcade industry, which was the origin, and the only reason there was a demand to have games in the home at all. I remember when the arcade was the future, something so expensive and elaborate, that one could only dream to bring that experience home. It was the PSX, or Playstation 1 that I hold responsible for making the arcade experience obsolete. Still, I have more fond gaming memories huddled around Street Fighter 2 arcade machines, and watching someone perform a Fatality in Mortal Kombat for the first time. Four player Simpsons, TMNT, anyone? Going out in public for thrills has become a thing in the past, now lets sit at home where nothing exciting happens. Let's not.

DEATH775
DEATH775

Everyone knows Zelda, one of the biggest and longest title out there.

madg23
madg23

i hope they at least show something to do with perfect dark or goldeneye for the 64

avenger-619
avenger-619

Oh yeah brings me back to the days of nintendo and sega such classics such as sonic for the sega and super mario bros,oh i almost forgot the first ff7 for the playstation that as an awesome commercial and game.yeah the classics are memorable.

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

dmc161073
dmc161073

genjuroT Posted Jun 5, 2010 3:35 pm GMT i think commodore and/or amiga should have been in this.i still own an amiga 500 and 2000 with over 300 games sitting behind me.a lot of big companies experimented with amiga.i could name a ton of games that everyone should be familiar with that came out for amiga.thundercats,where is the world is carmen sandiego,dungeon master,eye of the beholder 2,sierra's king's quest,police quest,space quest.sid meier's pirates!,star wars,bard's tale 1&2 leisure suit larry,robocop,double dragon,gauntlet 2,lemmings,monkeys island space wrecked(by konami),...k thats enough shuffling through my floppies.i could go on though... WHAT HE SAID!

konn3r
konn3r

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

dawnofhero
dawnofhero

I miss the old Nintendo games for the NES and SNES. Good thing I didn't ditch my N64.

EGOE
EGOE

Who doesn't like Zelda? Almost everybody has played it or at least watched someone play it.

Soapweed
Soapweed

Zelda and Metroid are enough to make me consider buying a Wii. This feature just makes me miss Nintendo.

Bookerjj2000
Bookerjj2000

@l0kmun "There are plenty of games that have done much more than Halo for the games industry. How about the GTA series?" Where did this comment come from? I was reponding to another comment. Why do ppl feel they have to mention something totally different, Where in my comment did i mentioned games haven't done more for the industry than halo? Obviously you made your point that you do not like Halo, but do not let your hate obsure your judgement, i've even mentioned goldeneye, but you seem to didn't read that, it flat out gave non-PC gamers the PC experience, that's huge. Counterstrike is great "for the PC." "GTA series? They singlehandedly invented 3rd person 3D open world gaming" Hmm, fine that's your opinion, I would have have to say, and along with the producers at Rockstar would tell you Mario 64 did that, that game inspired them to change from their first two GTA games. I'm not hating GTA just do not agree with your statement. I still do agree GTA has done alot for the industry even moreso than Halo, but that had nothing to do with my comment since u were replying to me.

genjuroT
genjuroT

i think commodore and/or amiga should have been in this.i still own an amiga 500 and 2000 with over 300 games sitting behind me.a lot of big companies experimented with amiga.i could name a ton of games that everyone should be familiar with that came out for amiga.thundercats,where is the world is carmen sandiego,dungeon master,eye of the beholder 2,sierra's king's quest,police quest,space quest.sid meier's pirates!,star wars,bard's tale 1&2 leisure suit larry,robocop,double dragon,gauntlet 2,lemmings,monkeys island space wrecked(by konami),...k thats enough shuffling through my floppies.i could go on though...

rey2
rey2

It did started out as a game and watch. Had those back then before the gameboy. First gameboy i had was the gameboy color. Was borrowing the first gen gba model from my friends. When the gameboy advance was announced, i thought i'd skip it. (Was a bit pricey for me at first.) Had to wait a tad longer and ended up with the one that flips to open with the backlight.

rezarazor
rezarazor

nintendo is always for kids have been and will be ... so be nice to our childhood habit as well as our sons and grandsons ...

hangman000
hangman000

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

hangman000
hangman000

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

badron11
badron11

Zelda will always be one of the greatest franchises ever.

DarknessR18
DarknessR18

Games are good, games are great, it's frustrating loading times that I hate!

japanime226
japanime226

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

m30w_cP
m30w_cP

the entire legend of zelda ocarina of time .. is my fav video game moment.... if i remember correctly i had it down to either 8 hours or 9 hours to beat the entire game from start to finish.....classic game.... if u dont have this on your wii's virtual console.....YOU NEED IT!!! totally worth the ten bucks/1000 points

z176
z176

monchoago, don't be a hater.

wolfyrabbit
wolfyrabbit

i like this thing gamespot, have more of this :D