Happy 50th birthday video games

What was your first video game? Grand Theft Auto? Donkey Kong? Mortal combat? Mazogs? The gaming industry turns 50. A business now worth nearly £ 130 billion a year was launched in August 1971.

In the late 1960s, two men, University of Utah student Nolan Bushnell and Stanford University researcher Jim Stein, decided to create a video game that could be played in a bathroom. games.

The duo partnered with arcade company Nutting Associates to launch Computer Space in August 1971. In the years that followed, kids lined up in arcades to play games like Pong and Space Invaders. , launched in Japan in 1978.

Did people have to leave their homes to play video games back then?

You are clearly not a baby boomer. Yes, but home play was already on the horizon. Atari and Nintendo both released home consoles in the 1970s. However, arcade games became increasingly powerful in the 1980s with the launch of games such as Donkey Kong, Tetris, and Pac-Man. Super Mario Bros. was launched in 1985.

When did the UK come on the scene?

Clive Sinclair’s personal computer, the ZX81, was a bit of a game-changer (sorry). Launched in 1981 (and built by the now-closed Timex factory in Dundee), it was designed to be a low-cost entry-level home computer for the UK market. And the games were part of the attraction. You can play chess and Monster Maze 3D on the ZX81, although it’s Mazogs, launched in 1982, which early players probably remember most fondly.

Good graphics?

For the time being. But today’s kids would be horrified by their basic black and white block. And then tell them you have to download the game via tape …

What happened next?

The 1990s saw the launch of games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat. The violence in the latter sparked a US Senate investigation and the introduction of an age rating for video games.

In the 21st century, online games have become a thing. The launch of platforms such as Microsoft’s Xbox (in 2001), Sony’s Playstation2 (2000) and Nintendo’s DS (2004) and Wii (2006) helped establish the game as perhaps the preeminent entertainment industry of the time.

Indeed, Hollywood has been making films (of varying quality) based on video games since the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1993 (not the greatest hour and 40 minutes of the late Bob Hoskins).

Later this year, the Resident Evil movie franchise, based on the video game franchise, will be relaunched, led by Kaya Scodelario.

Which updates us.

More or less. The pandemic saw a 20% increase in game sales last year, while surveys show more and more people over the age of 50 are now playing. Up to 42% of Britons aged 55 to 64 regularly play video games.

It could even have beneficial effects on health. Studies show that playing 3D computer games can help prevent memory loss.

Where did I put my ZX81?

Good luck with that. Alternatively, you can always wait for the new Nintendo Switch to launch in October.

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