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ADONAI On October - 17 - 2011

Prose is an art form, movies and acting in general are art forms, so is music, painting, graphics, sculpture, and so on. Some might even consider classic games like chess to be an art form. Video games use elements of all of these to create something new. Why wouldn’t video games be an art form? ~Sam Lake

 

I love video games. Like I would any good book or movie. It’s an experience and something to get wrapped up in. The interactivity is especially appealing. I’m not reading about something or watching it happen, I’m doing it. Making it happen. As games have evolved and become less linear, what I do has become, more and more, my decision. Games Like Grand Theft Auto  and the Elder Scrolls series give players a huge world to interact with and don’t really tell them everything they can do. There is still a structure to it. Missions to follow, an overall story to progress, but you don’t have to do that right away before enjoying everything the game has to offer.

If I wanna spend 3 hours launching  cars off  a roof into helicopters, I can do that. And it is fucking awesome. The rise of online gaming makes it all a shared experience as your friends can jump in to  help you launch cars into helicopters. Games like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield allow payers from all around the world to kill each other in glorious HD and argue with the most foul mouthed 13 year old kids on the planet. . EA Sports‘ ‘Madden  titles have become synonymous with the game of football and it’s release date rivals opening day for fan excitement.

So how did this multi-billion dollar a year industry come to be? Well I’m glad you asked, cause I’m about to tell you.

 

HEY! Where are you going? You get back here and read this shit!

 

Level 1: The Quest Begins

 

“The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” ~Bad Dudes

 

Did you like that? Yeah, get ready for all kinds of video game puns and jokes that me and 3 other people will get. Anyways, we begin in 1947 with the Cathode ray tube amusement device. Worst. Game title. Ever. What if they still did that?

“Are you ready for Integrated Circuit Board with Cell Processor?!!”

Created by Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr., son of Walter Smith, the CRTAD was a “game of skill” that required players to use a dial to shift a dot over an “airplane” simulated on the radar like screen and press a button to fire within a certain amount of time. A simple concept seemingly used by ever rail shooter since. It was stupid and people made fun of him for making it. Not really. I’m sure he had many friends.

The next decade saw some other simplistic ideas such as  Tic-Tac Toe. Not exciting but not very fun. The first real video game was made in 1958 at  Brookhaven National Laboratory by William Higinbotham, Lord of Essex and Squire of Henshelshire. Unlike previous games, Tennis for Two was completely self contained meaning there was no external connections needed to make the game work other than a power supply.  It featured the side view of a “tennis court” with a net in the middle. Players used  a paddle controller to hit the ball and adjust the angle of it. Everyone agreed that it was quite revolutionary but did not have enough monkeys carrying chainsaws. A design flaw that would be addressed down the line.

One of the first video games to eventually become commercially released was SpaceWar!, created in 1961 by Steve “Slug” Russell, Martin “Shag” Graetz, and Wayne “Tits McGee” Witaenman at MIT.  A 2 player game, it involved 2 ships trying to destroy one another while avoiding falling into the gravity well of a star in the center of the screen. each player has a limited number of missiles and fuel increasing the urgency of the game. There was also a “hyperspace” move that could be used to randomly appear somewhere else on the screen. But it also randomly caused explosions, discouraging overuse.

THRILL TO THE EXCITEMENT OF, SPACEWARS!!

Video games were coming of age at the same time computers were. These early games were made on site and rarely left the rooms they were created in. Access to computers were limited.  The first PC was still over a decade away but people were already planning ways to get their games out to the public.

In 1971 the first coin operated video game was installed at Stanford University. Called Galaxy Game, it was based on the concept of SpaceWar! and pitted two players against each other in spaceships. The whole unit was two different arcade units placed together sharing the same information.

The game was pretty successful and paved the way for the first arcades in America.  Meanwhile a man named Nolan Bushnell was working on a very similar game titled Computer Space.  The game was a financial dead end but that isn’t important. What matters is what Nolan decided next. In 1972 he decided to start his own company named Atari, one of the major turning points in the history of video games.

Atari’s first product was Pong. Even if you’ve never played a video game before in your life you probably know about Pong. This was one of the first financially successful video game units. And boy was it. At first Bushnell had difficulty finding financial backers to help Atari manufacture and sell the product on their own. But once they got the first units out and in shops and arcades, the orders came flying in. By 1974 he was shipping Pong units all over the country and around the world. Pong turned Atari into a real company and gave them a strong financial foundation.In 1976 Atari began shipping home versions of Pong that could attach to the back of TVs. Again it proved insanely popular. So popular that Magnavox, who had already released a home console, decided to sue them for copyright infringement. Since you could make the argument that everyone is infringing on Tennis for Two or any number of earlier similar games, Bushnell’s lawyers were confident he would win.

However the court costs would basically bankrupt Atari. Bushnell settled out of court but Magnavox wanted more. they wanted an exclusive licensee deal with Atari and Pong plus rights to any future titles. Bushnell called bullshit and held back Atari products for a year to clear the suit.

 

PONG!


   Level 2: The Quickening

 


“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” ~Legend of Zelda

 

By the late 1970’s dozens of Pong clones were flooding the market and dealers began selling consoles at a loss to clear stock. Many companies dropped out op the market leaving only Atari and Magnavox who operated at a loss in ’77 and ’78. things were looking pretty grim  but a ray of light shined though in the form of Space Invaders. Developed by Taito in 1978 it quickly rekindled the dying video game fire. This opened the door for what is referred to as the Golden Age of Video Games.

In October of 1980 the game that would carry video games into he heart of American pop culture was released. Developed in Japan by Namco, Pac-Man is the reason why video games exist at all today. Never before or since has  a game achieved the kind of all encompassing pop culture appeal that Pac-Man had. games spin off merchandise, or TV shows, or music videos, or art and books, but Pac-Man had ALL that shit. It was just  a simple puzzle game but it was polished and marketed perfectly. Who tha Hell hasn’t saved the power pellet in the lower left corner until the middle right was cleared? Or was that upper right to center? Anyways, Pac-Man was the bomb. It is BY FAR the highest grossing video game of all time, raking in over $2.5 billion between 1980 and 1990. Pac-Man is THE game. Even today you have to tip your hat to it. Without games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders making insane amounts of money in the arcades, the video game industry would most likely have completely collapsed.

Atari captured the home console rights and produced a lack luster console port. It looked like someone had drained the original Pac-Man of color, set it on fire til ti melted a little, and shipped it out. Arcades were the place to be anyways. The 80’s saw an explosion of arcades around the country fueled by an ever increasing stable of legendary games. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Defender, Galaxian, Popeye, Pole Position, Dig Dug, and many, many more. And despite not being able to capture the arcade experience perfectly, Atari was doing quite well with it’s home consoles. So well that they were able to produce a game based on E.T., watch it bomb miserably, and bury 1,000,000 units in the desert. Seriously. Home PCs were now a staple in many homes and they were producing a close knit hardcore game audience. Home PCs are also where we begin to see genre innovation and a clear difference in game mechanics. Your first person shooters, RPGs, and action adventure games all came about on PCs. Games created and traded often through the mail.The game market was peaking. it seemed like nothing could stop it. Then something did.

A second video game crash in America occurred in 1983. Again problems with a weak diluted market led to severe losses for many home console manufacturers. Everyone was trying to cash in on the arcade explosion with home consoles that provided the “arcade experience”. They didn’t. The quality of games for home consoles dropped and PCs were putting out a superior product, so many gamers went to computers, abandoning the home console market. Leading manufacturers like Atari had multiple systems out so they were basically competing against themselves. The late 70’s and early 80’s were a long string of terrible business decisions by many home console manufacturers, including the aforementioned E.T. incident. Many game programmers were leaving Atari and other companies complaining of missed checks and lack of royalties for their creations. The first third party developer to emerge was Activision in 1979.  A company founded by ex-Atari employees.   This marked another milestone moment in video games. Now developers could create and profit from their own creations and sell them to the console manufacturers instead of giving them up.

Arcades still produced profits during this time and began showcasing new technology that would fuel the rebirth of the home console market.  Meanwhile, in Japan,  the home console market was set to explode in a  huge way and carry that momentum all the way over to America.

Level 3: The Ice world

 

“THANK YOU MARIO! BUT OUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!” ~Super Mario Bros.

 

In Japan the Nintendo company was looking to expand into the growing Japanese home console market. Nintendo, established in 1889, began as a card company. As times changed they jumped into whatever was big a the time in entertainment.  In 1974 Nintendo signed  a deal to distribute Magnavox’s home console in Japan. This would be the first of several American consoles they would license in Japan including the Atari 2600 . The Atari 2600 series was wildly successful in Japan and America and a ridiculous amount of Atari knockoffs partly led to the second video game crash in ’83. But what made Nintendo wildly successful in the video game market was it’s arcade games. The release of Donkey Kong coupled with rising profits from their console deals elevated Nintendo to one of the most profitable companies in all of Japan. The creator of Donkey Kong, Shigeru Miyamoto, was about to launch a video game empire and make Nintendo one of the most recognizable brand names in the entire world. And it would all start with a game featuring the nameless hero from Donkey Kong and his brother.

After the incredible success of Donkey Kong, Nintendo wanted an equally brilliant follow up from Miyamoto. Miyamoto had an idea for a game already but no star. He decided to pluck his character from Donkey Kong, called Jump Man by developers and many players, and give him his own game and story. This would prove to be the greatest idea ever in the history of anything. He and Donkey Kong co-creator Gunpei Yokoi went to work on a game about two plumbers clearing the sewers under New York City of strange creatures.

Shigeru Miyamoto: The father of modern video games. Wears ridiculous turtlenecks.

 


So Miyamoto started bouncing some ideas off of  Yokoi and eventually they came up with the game Mario Bros., starring Mario Mario and Luigi Mario, in 1983. Stupid names, pretty successful game.

MARIO BROS.

Game play consisted of eliminating waves of “enemies” by hitting the ground underneath them which would flip them on their back. At that point you had a set amount of time to get o the enemy and jump on top of it to eliminate it. A big POW block set int he middle of each level and could be used by either player to turn every enemy currently on screen onto it’s back. It could only be used once per level. Later remakes provided 2 POW blocks or the ability to earn new blocks by completing tasks during game play. It was pretty fun. Further you went the more challenging each wave got. 

After the success of Mario Bros., Nintendo figured they had a premiere developer in Miyamoto. They were right. That same year Nintendo finally released the home console they had been working on, the Famicom. Graphically superior to anything else on the market it would quickly take over the Japanese console market. Games on the Famicom looked a lot like their arcade counterparts and the Atari 2600 games looked like warm diarrhea. Think I’m being harsh? See that picture of Mario Bros. above?      Here it is on an Atari:

Terrible, right?

The picture before this one is from the Famicom. An almost perfect arcade conversion. This would set the bar for every console manufacturer to follow as they realized they had to keep up with current game technology to dominate the console market. Later on in the 90’s it wold become all about keeping pace with PCs. But, at this point,  arcades ruled and that was the experience people wanted. Over in America the home console market was stagnant. And anyone bitching that I forgot about ColecoVision: Fuck ColecoVision.

Famicom

Now Nintendo was producing their own console and they wanted to bring it stateside. At first they entered into an agreement with Atari to sell their console in America. But Nintendo had recently sold a port of Donkey Kong to ColecoVision so Atari got pissy pants about it and the deal fell through. After some internal wrangling over how the system would be packaged and marketed in America, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System(NES) in 1985. After a limited release toward the end of ’85 the console went nationwide in early 1986.


Nintendo Entertainment System

 

Along with the re-branding came a complete redesign of the system. The joystick was replaced by a 4-way cross pad  that would eventually become the industry  standard and be referred to as the “D-pad”,or directional pad. The shape, color, and size of the unit were all intended to make it look less like a child’s toy and allow the console to be placed in any of the myriad TV/entertainment system combos flooding American homes in the mid ’80s. Launching with the system was the new game from Miyamoto and Yokoi, the follow up to Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.!

 

 

In most first and second generation console packages, Super Mario Bros. had a second game on the cartridge, Duck Hunt. This was Nintendo’s attempt to get in on the light gun trend that was sweeping arcades at the time. Gameplay consisted of shooting ducks on screen with your light gun controller, the NES Zapper, after an asshole dog flushes them out. If you fail to get the required number of kills in a set number of tries, the game is over. After a dog laughs at you for sucking.

FUCK YOU DOG!

 

Most all of Nintendo’s competition had already fallen by the wayside and after a year in production, Atari moved out of home consoles to PC game systems. Nintendo was the unquestioned ruler of the global home console market. And they did it with a mix of fun games and shrewd business practice. Atari had often fought with third party developers and their consoles lacked many games outside the Atari brand. Nintendo embraced third party developers from day one but insisted they follow Nintendo’s strict policy on game manufacturing. Nintendo manufactured all games produced by them or leased from third parties. They placed  a chip in each game that was read by the chip in the NES. If a game didn’t have the chip, it didn’t play. A few developers bucked the trend and produced unlicensed games using a copy of Nintendo’s chip. Atari developed a series of games for the NES under the developer name Tengen, and reverse engineered a copy of the chip for their own games. A lawsuit followed in which Tengen claimed Nintendo was in breach of anti-trust laws. Nothing was ever fully decided and Tengen eventually developed games for Nintendo.

Level 4: A New Challenger

 

“War is where the young and stupid are tricked by the old and bitter into killing each other.” ~GTA IV

 

Nintendo appeared to be an unstoppable juggernaut in the home console market but a challenge would come from another Japanese company looking to translate arcade success to the home console world. Nintendo centered the video game world squarely in Japan. The NES was a hit in dozens of countries on multiple continents and the SEGA company wanted in on that action. Like Nintendo they were in the entertainment industry long before the video game craze and wanted to get in on the growing market. When the NES proved to be a hit they immediately got their own console on the market, the Sega Master System in 1986.

SEGA Master System

 

SEGA promoted the system as technologically superior to the NES, providing a higher quality of graphics more in line with current arcade tech. This was true with some games but not so much with others. But 2 years in, Nintendo still owned more than 80% of the market. SEGA’s problem was Nintendo’s game policy. As I mentioned earlier, Nintendo made all third party games for their console and installed chips allowing it to be played on their system. A second part of that deal was no third party developer who made games for Nintendo could make games for a competitor. You could make games for SEGA if you wanted, but Nintendo would be done with you. And that was SEGA’s biggest problem.  Nintendo beat them to the market by about a year. Their sales were incredible and no one was leaving that gold mine.  Third party developers may have sold their souls to Nintendo but they sold them for a ridiculous amount of profits.

SEGA released and re-released “updated” versions of the consoles over the next few years but still lost ground to Nintendo. Nintendo’s own first party games were becoming iconic in gamer’s eyes and Mario had become the company’s official mascot. The last Mario game made for the NES, Super Mario Bros. 3, was released in 1990 to massive sales and a huge promotional campaign even getting it’s own movie a year before, The Wizard, starring Fred Savage. I shit thee not.

 

So SEGA said, “Hey! We need us one of them there mascuts.” Or something like that. I dunno. I wasn’t there so get off my back about it! For their big “next gen” system released, the Sega Genesis, SEGA wanted a mascot to promote the system. In 1991 SEGA developers gave them Sonic the Hedgehog. And it was good. Sonic immediately boosted sales of SEGA hardware in North America.

 

The Genesis developed a modest and fiercely loyal fan base in America but that same year Nintendo was ready to release their new console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s the NES, just super!

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

 

And,of course, a brand new mega hit Mario game, Super Mario World, was shipped with the console.

 

 

This was the beginning of the end of SEGA as a hardware developer. A decade later they would be strictly a software developer. SEGA put up a valiant fight though.  They tried to market to a slightly older teen audience than the one Nintendo had previously targeted. But Nintendo was down with the street as well. early on they snatched up Capcom‘s popular arcade fighting game, Street Fighter II.

 

Street Fighter II marked the beginning of the fighting game craze that swept arcades in the early 90’s. The release of the next big game, Mortal Kombat, in 1992 would show a visible difference in Nintendo and SEGA’s marketing policies.

 

Mortal Kombat featured blood and gory finishing moves including ripping a dude’s spine out. Awesome stuff. SEGA went with keeping the blood and full gore of the finishing moves and Nintendo opted to go another way, wanting to be a family friendly console. They wanted parents to know that even though that guy’s heart was just ripped out, there is no red blood dripping from it. Mortal Kombat led to  a big firestorm on Capital hill and Joe Liebermann wanted to make selling games to kids illegal. Some still do. But, like any entertainment ever created, from books to movies, video games will have to weather the outrage of fools.

The SNES would go on to dominate next few years of the “console wars”.  It is hands down the greatest video game console ever released. Every list of the greatest video games of all time is full of games from this system. My favorite game of all time, Chrono Trigger, was released for this system.

 

But a shadow from the past loomed in the distance and Nintendo would face it’s first real challenge since entering the console market.

Level 5: The New King

 

“Always remember, your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.” ~Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

 

Before Nintendo launched the SNES, they were in talks with SONY to develop a disc based system. They had tried earlier on the Famicom with mixed results. But the higher ups at Nintendo felt their contract with Sony gave them too much control so the deal was cancelled and they released the cartridge based SNES. Sony continued work on a console that used CDs instead of cartridges. The advance to discs would make for bigger, faster, better looking games with crisper sound. In the fall of 1995 Sony released the Playstation game console worldwide. Playstation was not the first console to attempt a disc based format, but it was the first successful one.

 

The folks at Sony took time with the console, gave early dev kits to developers, and launched with a fantastic lineup of games in just about every genre. But the game that would make the system one of the best selling of all time, and elevate an entire genre in America, was released 2 years later by Square, now Square Enix.  Final Fantasy VII was the latest in a line of popular role playing games from Japan.

 

Three earlier titles had been released outside Japan and enjoyed success stateside, but the genre as  a whole did not appeal to most gamers. RPGs were often slow in pacing and more theatrical than most games, featuring heavy dialogue and  character and plot development.  It is my favorite genre, and the genre of my previously mentioned favorite game Chrono Trigger, made by the same folks at Square. Sales of Playstation consoles skyrocketed immediately following FF 7’s release and a “golden age” of RPGs began as multiple developers looked to get in on the emerging American market. The fighting genre would also see a bit of a renaissance with releases like Tekken and Bushido Blade.

But Sony wasn’t the only game in town. Nintendo, still struggling to get an arrangement on a disc based system, released their follow up console, the Nintendo 64 in 1996.  So called as it was a 64-bit system compared to Playstation’s 32-bit. Nintendo had pushed the cartridge format as far as it could go and actually managed to produce a potentially stronger system than Sony.   But Sony was in Nintendo’s spot now. They were first to market, they had huge third party support, and they unleashed a series of brilliant ad campaigns to capture the 18-25 year old demographic. Nintendo was still perceived as the “family system” and times were changing. Square had originally wanted to release FF 7 on the Nintendo 64 but the cartridge fomat limited what they could do with their animated FMVs(full motion video) in the game. it released on 4 discs for the Playstation and would have never fit on one cartridge, no matter how powerful the system.

That loss really hurt Nintendo. RPGs were the emerging trend and the Nintendo 64s launch lineup had none. And it would be many months before it got one. A really shitty one I will not even dignify by mentioning. Eventually Nintendo found it’s footing but Sony kept releasing one groundbreaking title after another as developers flocked to the console and it’s ability to make movies out of games.  Developer Hideo Kojima revived his old Metal Gear series on Playstation with Metal Gear: Solid in 1998.

Metal Gear launched a whole new genre: Stealth Action. It was an instant best seller and pushed even more Playstation units off the shelf. Nintendo made solid gains with dependable franchises like Mario and Zelda but Sony was blazing new trails and really turning video game consoles into a staple of living rooms and dorms across America. The Playstation would launch many franchises still in play today and begin the sports genre’s accent to near dominance. But Sony’s biggest successes were still to come as Nintendo goes back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, a new challenger from the good ol’ USA was working to make a challenge while an old foe plotted one last attempt at the throne.

Level 6: Once More Unto The Breach

 

 

“All I want is world peace… or a piece of the world.” ~Chrono Trigger

 

Video game consoles were in a 5 year cycle. So, by the dawn of the new millennium, Sony and Nintendo were both busy working on their next consoles. At the same time, Nintendo’s old nemesis, SEGA was putting all it’s chips on one last bid to capture the console market. While Sony and Nintendo were at war with each other SEGA was putting everything they had into one last shot at a piece of the console pie. In 1999, SEGA released the Dreamcast.

SEGA Dreamcast

 

It was an immediate failure. Despite having far superior graphics, launching a sports game empire that still stands today,  offering online for the first time ever on a console, and beating the competition to market by a full year, the Dreamcast’s shelf life was short. Things got off to a bad start when SEGA failed to produce enough consoles at launch to satisfy demand and they were working from behind pretty much the rest of the way. When Sony got the Playstation 2 to market in October 2000, SEGA had not secured enough of a foothold to weather the early sales of Sony’s juggernaut console.

Playstation 2

Sony’s first console already had a healthy base and they were ready for next gen updates to their favorite series. SEGA did o.k. in it’s first year against the PS2 but 2001 would bring several titles to teh PS2 that would all but eliminate the Dreamcast. Fans of the Metal Gear series were breathlessly awaiting the games sequel and their wait was rewarded with one of the most anticipated and highest selling games of it’s generation, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

A month earlier the PS2 got a game that would change the way people looked at video games and create it’s own genre, “the sandbox game”. Grand Theft Auto III was the third game in the GTA series but a totally different game from it’s predecessors. It was a fully 3-D action game with a third person perspective. The game was open in the sense that you could interact with it and never actually engage the main game.

The series got 2 followups on the PS2, each selling ridiculous amounts. The Dreamcast was done. When Nintendo’s Gamecube came to market in 2001, it was almost completely drown out by Sony’s blockbuster titles. It was a modest success but Nintendo was firmly behind, no longer the console king. Even worse, they were about to be demoted to 3rd place behind an American company looking to get in on this video game stuff.

Microsoft came to market with it’s X-Box console the same year as Nintendo.

X-Box

 

It quickly overtook Nintendo’s console but remained a distant second to Sony’s all consuming Playstation 2. X-Box was helped by launching a few beloved series of their own, most notably the Halo series. Halo was a modest first person shooter that mushroomed into a cultural phenomenon.

When Halo 2 was released in 2004 it had become the preferred shooter in dorm rooms and “man caves” across the country. The influx of celebrities into “video game culture” elevated video games to a pop culture status they had not seen since Pac-Man. Sony dominated this generation of consoles, selling more than twice as many units as the X-Box, Dreamcast and Gamecube combined. But Sony, fat on their own press, would fumble. The new kids at Microsoft would assert themselves and Nintendo would change gaming again. The war, once thought over, was rekindled with fury.

Level 7: The Once And Future King

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” — Andrew Ryan (Bioshock)

 

 

As Sony and Microsoft toiled on their next big consoles, Nintendo was busy changing the way people approach video games. Microsoft did not sell well in Asia, a one time crucial market, but a power shift was occurring from Japanese developers to American and European developers.  The X-Box had sold well in North America and Europe and Microsoft wasted little time prepping their new console. They were the first to market with a new system in November of 2005. It was an instant success, mostly fueled by Microsoft’s superb online service. Carried over from the original X-Box, X-Box Live was the first real online network for gamers. Nintendo really had no online and Sony was still working on theirs. Many felt Nintendo’s lack of a true online component would doom their system. It catapulted the X-Box 360 to record sales in it’s first 5 months. Online and multiplayer were becoming the new norm and Microsoft was way ahead with an established online community.

 

X-Box 360

 

Microsoft enjoyed a solid year alone on the market.  Just like Sony before they capitalized on it and made deep inroads with third party developers and strengthened relationships with “Triple A” publishers. Their X-Box Live service hit several subscriber milestones in it’s first year and established a base that has yet to be equaled. The opening slate of games for the 360 wasn’t overwhelming but the variety of genres gave almost everyone something to latch on to. The following year, anticipating the release of rival consoles, Microsoft and Epic Games released the next flagship series for the console, Gears of War. Gears is a third person shooter, meaning you can see your character instead of looking through their point of view. Combined with the release of Halo 3 , 2006 was the first year in almost a decade that someone other than Sony was leading the video game sales charts. Halo 3 made over 170 million dollars on it’s first day of release, beating a record previously set by Halo 2 for the highest one day total of any entertainment product. The nearest movie is  the last Harry Potter at just over 91 million.

 

In 2006 Sony came to market with their highly touted machine. Millions of Playstation 2 fans were anxiously waiting the update to their most favoritest console. Myself included. Many of us were severely disappointed. Not in theconsole but how it was all handled.  Problems began way back in 2004 when Sony was sending full dev kits to developers to program games for launch. Many developers were having trouble figuring out the dynamics of the console. The console was  a beast. By far the most powerful machine on he market, development cycles for Playstation 3    games were consuming more time than for the 360. And this is still the case today.  But many developers loved the fact that they had so much potential to work with. The extra horsepower added to an already bloated price though.

Playstation 3

Sony’s new console also had a built in Blu-Ray player, the most expensive DVD device on the market. Cost was a major concern from day one. When it was announced that the price would top $600, many consumers shied away. Sony was already selling the units at a loss. The estimated cost of the console was $900. They were selling for $300 less. Sony’s launch lineup was mediocre and did little to boost sales. The first year on market was one stumble after another. The rise of streaming video made their victory in the “DVD Format War” meaningless and they really needed some top tier games to get rolling. It would take 2 years but in 2008 Sony finally began gaining ground. Price cuts had led to a big boost in sales and the console division finally started turning a profit. Playstation 3’s 2008 lineup was considered the best on the market with exclusives like Little Big Planet and Metal Gear Solid 4 leading he charge.

 

 

Sony and Microsoft had put out 2 solid consoles that millions of gamers were supporting with passion. But the former king of video games was ready to recapture their throne. Nintendo was working on a console that had been in development since the Nintendo 64 was on the market. They were only waiting for the technology to catch up to their ideas. In 2006 Nintendo came to market with what many were calling a gimmick and not a console. Whether the world was ready for “motion control gaming” or not, Nintendo was ready to give ti to them.   The Nintendo Wii is the oddest console I’ve ever seen.

Wii

 

It’s a little white box with what looks like a TV remote. Yet it dominates the console market. And it’s not even a contest.

The full "Wii-mote" with nunchaku attachment

 

That’s right. It says nunchaku attachment. Sold. You can operate the joystick attachment as you would a regular pad but the Wii-mote is the selling point. Instead of pressing buttons to perform an action you move the remote. You look absolutely silly playing it but the mass appeal of it led to record sales. After a year on the market the Wii  was the number one video game console in the world. Nintendo was once again on top. Despite Wii games receiving relatively low scores from reviewers, people ate this shit up! The games were often, simple, quick, and easy to get into. It appealed to a broad demographic even as it seemed to alienate “hardcore gamers”. Attempts were made to satisfy the core but they all fell flat as we refused to use stupid fucking motion controls. Here’s a few dumbass Wii games.

Super Mario Galaxy 

Wii Sports

 

Not to be outdone Sony and Microsoft also released motion based peripherals for their consoles. The Kinect for X-Box 360 and the Move for Playstation 3. Both are retarded. The Kinect’s best feature is it’s hands free remote settings. For television and movies, not games. And the Move is such an obvious rip off of the Wii-mote that I’m actually embarrassed for Sony. As predicted both have been mediocre in sales and enthusiasm so far.

Currently Nintendo is still the overall console leader but in the past year Sony has passed Microsoft in many regions to become number two. Playstation 3 is at it’s lowest price ever and Sony is expecting a big 2011 holiday. And all 3 are most certainly well into development of their next consoles. The video game industry is huge right now. The only real concern is how will the video game industry fuck it up again?

The last crash was hardware related,  a software related crash could be a real possibility. Whether anyone believes thee is a recession right now or not, people are still watching their spending. Developers must guard against flooding and dividing the market.  Currently there is a very real campaign by major developers and publishers to kill the used games market. The new concept of DLC or downloadable content is getting out of hand. Developers seem to be intentionally withholding certain things from a game to sell to us later.   Others are tacking on an extra charge to play online of you haven’t bought  a new copy to get the code. Developers like Activision are turning many top tier titles into annual releases and raising concerns of burning out consumers.

Well, I believe this is as good a place as any to end. Hope you enjoyed it. And remember that video games are a hobby. A diversion. A pass time.  Don’t make them everything. Put the controller down. Get outside. Enjoy life. Your saved game will still be there.

 

 

Written by ADONAI

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

15 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    I think you can tell something about a person based on these two things.

    What character did you play most often in Mortal Combat I (will accept II too I guess).

    How about Street Fighter I or II?

    For me it was almost always Scorpion (I remember a code to play Reptile too). I mean, c’mon, this was too fun—


    I never took it this far though.
    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=EIeNIqvivpw

    Street Fighter?

    Chun-Li -- always play the hot chick when you can.
    Dhalsim, the Yoga dude.
    Vega, he had those Wolverine type claws.


  2. Khirad says:

    First games I remember were on Intellivision.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellivision

    Pitfall


    And this one was fun to screw around on. There was no border really. You could drive through houses’ lawns and shortcut it to another part of the track. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. 😆


    But the first console I had was NES, and yeah, Super Mario Bros. I kinda lost interest in upgrading though after SNES. I borrowed my friend’s once, and it was neat, but I dunno, just lost interest in gaming at a certain point. It became all about complex button codes and such. I had fun enough with two buttons. I’m simple like that. I’m trying to relax here, I want to unwind, not study like I’m preparing for an exam just to start a game.

    I did get really hooked to my old-school gameboy though. My lord. And all my friends had one so we’d all trade games. I believe there was even a way to hook them up and play each other? I dunno, long time ago. Anyway, the game I wasted the most time on was Final Fantasy for gameboy. I did always like the RPGs most. I could get wrapped up in those. I think WOW would just be too involved for me though. It’s not so much I don’t like video games. It’s rather that I see WOW like I treat heroin. I would like it so much that I’d rather not try it. I have enough time management issues already.

  3. Haruko Haruhara says:

    One thing I like about the games now is you can actually get a genuine workout with them. I have an exercise game for our Wii that I use when it is too icy or snowy out to run or ride my bike.

  4. funksands says:

    Adonai, this was a really great article, and took me back deep into my childhood. The original Atari console was my Xmas present back in 1980 or so and hooked me with claws into video games forever. I’ll never forgive/forget it.

    As I got older my love of video games started to fade until the FinalFantasy series came out on the NES and SNES. Hooked again all the way through college with only one other competitor: Tecmo and SuperTecmo Bowl.

    Over the years my interest waned significantly until my wife, in a fit of pure madness got me a Wii. Hooked again. The first game she got me was Super Mario Galaxy 2, which imo was the best video game I’ve ever played from a play-ability, visual graphic, uniqueness, and fun standpoint.

    I never, ever thought that I would end up having a 30 year love affair with video games, and despite some long lulls, there is still some magic there.

    Thanks for the look back into the past.

  5. kesmarn says:

    OK. So somehow — in spite of myself — I ended up reading every word of this article. Not because I am in any way a gamer. (The only one that I ever excelled at was Nintendo’s version of Jeopardy, in which I squeaked past my spouse with a score of 13,000 to 0.)

    No. It was because it was a giant blast of nostalgia. My son — who is across the continent as we speak, visiting his girlfriend — grew up through this entire period and was (and still is) a passionate gamer.

    He was barely three years old (or maybe not quite?) when we bought the first Nintendo. He would not be happy to read this, but he was so tiny he was still wearing pajamas that had — I kid you not — bunnies on them when he started playing Mario. He played it with enormous purpose and soon was able to beat anyone in the house. I thought this was what ALL three year olds did. After all, wasn’t this a kid’s game? It wasn’t until the brother-in-law with the MS in nuclear physics visited and announced: “That kid is a freaking PRODIGY!” that I realized something unusual was going on. (My son had an older sister who had started writing (self-taught) at age three, too, so I thought any and everything was normal. What did I know? I’d had never had younger siblings. This was new territory.)

    My son continued to beg for every new system and major game that came out — so it was never difficult to figure out what to get him for birthdays and Christmas. But he also became very curious about how these games were created — which led him to teach himself programming (which in turn inevitably exposed him to math). He put up his own website at age 8 and won two state wide awards for programming. All of this was directly rooted in his love of gaming.

    When he first got his own computer at about age 10, he was off and running and never looked back.

    Other moms were horrified that I allowed him to waste so many hours. They set strict limits of no more than 30 or 45 minutes a day for video games/computers. They were supposed to be “bad for you.” But I had a feeling something important was going on. This kid seemed to be a born auto-didact, and I had a feeling that the best thing I could do was to give him tools and then get the hell out of his way.

    I’m not being self-congratulatory here in the least. HE’s the one who did all the work and taught himself so much. Now his grad school work is taking up a lot of his time. He and his girl spend hours chatting on Google Voice. And he still loves to go for a long run or a bike ride.

    But sometimes, very late on Monday nights, I can hear him in his room, shouting orders to the rest of his “company” in an online game, and then laughing uproariously a short time later. And I know that the fun factor is still there in his life.

    No matter how grown up he is the rest of the time.

    And I’ve hung on to those bunny pajamas…

  6. Haruko Haruhara says:

    Really interesting. I think the very first video game I ever played was The Legend of Zelda. When I was a kid I got Doom II and that actually gave me nightmares. I would be afraid to go through a door because I knew SOMETHING would be waiting on the other side. I’d have to turn the game off and go back later when I got my nerve up. I would have dreams of the monsters in Doom chasing me.

    We have a CD of really old video games from the 70s and 80s — Centipede, Tempest and Defender. It has that Space Wars, too. I like it that you can shoot off part of the little ship, but it can still fire at you. It’s kind of cool! But, the kids still like Halo and Half Life and Medal of Honour.

    • ADONAI says:

      The first game I played was Combat on the Atari. It was my aunt’s console. My first game was super Mario Bros. on the NES. And it just got better from there. Now, Doom II didn’t really bother me but Doom III freaked me right the fuck out.

      I had a dream once that I was chasing Sonic. A very weird, colorful dream. And I still appreciate the old games. They didn’t rely so much on graphics. They were simple, fun, and challenging.

    • Caru says:

      I think that my first video game was Sonic the Hedgehog. Great games. My uncle had a Doom game when I was 7 or something. Scared the crap out of me.

  7. Caru says:

    Great article, Adonai. Although I don’t play as much as I used to, I still really enjoy picking up a controller. It’s a lot of fun, especially with other people playing with you and some of the games out there are truly amazing. They’re like interactive art.

    • ADONAI says:

      Definitely art my friend. And my video game time goes to other things now a days too. It’s still my favorite hobby but just a hobby.

      Though that may change when Skyrim comes out. Luckily I get all winter off.


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