Ever since a little known Television Engineer named Ralph Baer brought Pong into the world back in 1972, the gaming world has evolved, reinvented itself and changed in more ways than anybody can count. From full size stand-alone machines, to pocket sized entertainment, gone are the days of kids walking to the local arcade with a pocket full of quarters.
But obviously it's not only the hardware that has changed, the types of games, or genre of games has changed as well. When once we used to be happy, or downright excited to play the latest and greatest side scroller, now that same kind of game is just plain archaic, even though there are still a few old timers out there that still enjoy the classics. But put that same classic such as Defender in front of a 13 year old today and see how long it is played.
With that said, I often wonder where this whole gaming world is going, can it survive once all genres are discovered or made? Even today it seems that as new games come out, they are all just more of the same. How many FPS come out a year, or how many MMORPG's can come out before they all feel exactly the same? I guess it all started for me a few years ago when I first put Halo in the x-box. Even though I enjoyed Halo as I was playing though it, it did not take long before I realized I was just playing a newer version of an all time great, Half-Life. Shortly after that I began to wonder if the gaming future might not be what everybody is hoping it might be.
Before we know where this is all going, maybe we should look where we have been, a history line of sorts I guess. This is nowhere near complete, just a snap shot
- 1971 - The first arcade style game, Computer Space, is put in bars
- 1972 - Magnavox releases the first home gaming system, know as Odyssey
- 1975 - The first home version of Pong is released by ATARI
- 1976 - The game Death Race becomes the fist game based on a movie of the same name. Also, it becomes the first game to raise concern about violence in games. It's about this same time that the Side Scrolling genre is born
- 1977 - The Atari 2600 is released
- 1980 - Puck Man comes to the United States with a name change. Pac Man hits the arcades
- 1981 - Mario is introduced in the game Donkey Kong. Kong is also the first game with 4 levels.
- 1986 - The NES is released, bringing better graphics and faster game play home
- 1989 -- SIM City is released, introducing a new genre to the ranks
- 1992 - Mortal combat becomes the first game to use digitalized images of real people as characters in a game.
- 1992 - Wolfenstein 3D becomes the first FPS
- 1993 - Doom revolutionizes the FPS game
Since 1993 what has really changed besides the power of systems, the introduction of online games and the portability of handhelds and consoles? If you go back and look your self, you will see that there really have been very few new genres introduced in the last 10 years or so. Let's take a look at what is out there shall we.
First off let's start with the ever popular FPS. As I mentioned before, is there really anything new that can be added to these? How many times do we have to run around foreign planets, or defend ourselves from invasion.... or fight WWII for GOSH SAKE!
RPG's: Thankfully it looks like the turn based RPG might be going bye bye, but come on, do we need more WOW clones, which is really just a clone itself?
SIMS: Are our normal lives sooooo boring that we have to create our own little wannabe selves in a game to see just how much we can get away with, or be the person maybe we truly want to be? I am not talking strictly about the game SIMS, just the genre in general. WWII rages online everyday since 2001 thanks to WWII online, or what is now been renamed to Battlefield Europe, with a ½ scale model of Western Europe. Do we really need or desire to relive those horrendous moments in history? For once a game maker did the right thing when Microsoft took out the ability to crash planes into buildings in its ever popular flight sim. Thank who ever you pray to for that, I know that NOBODY should ever have to relive those moments. The only question I have is, when will someone create a game that sims a sim? Seems to be the only thing left for this game type.
Puzzle Games..... I think there might be 4 or 6 in the entire world.
RTS: Holy cow! how did I almost forget this genre? When was the last time ANYTHING was truly innovative with these games? Personally I have to go all the way back to the first Command & Conquer back in 1995, 12 years ago! To see when this game style got anything new. Sure there have been some great RTS games since then, but don't they all just feel like reworked, repainted shells of what we first played? And yes, I did LOVE Star Craft.
Sports Games : What can I say about this? Nothing. We keep buying new games every year, when something signifigant only changes in them about every three. Will they every get to the point where every option is in the game and the only thing we we well have to pay for every year are roster updates?
Action Adventure : Hmm... exactly how many clones of GTA are out there anyway?
Where exctly does the indurstry go from here? What happened to all those "virtual reality" games that I heard about 5 or 10 years ago? Are they out there? Will we soon be sitting in a chair wearing a helmet and body sensors? What other types of genres can be created? Anything new, or will we be playing newer shinyer versions of 20 year old games?
Please don't get me worng, I LOVE many of the games out there right now, I just wonder if someday soon our beloved hobby that keeps us inside, away from human contact will come to a screatching hault leaving us nothing better to do then go out and talk to other people...........