28 October 2011
The History of Video Gaming
Over the past decade, video gaming has become part of our nation’s culture. It all started
in 1952; a huge milestone in the gaming industry, A. S Douglas creates the first documented
computer game (Computer and Video). During this time in the United States most computers
were developed by individuals as a hobby. Douglas however changed the nation with his version
of Tic-Tac-toe. Video games are played almost everywhere, at the arcade, at home, on a
computer and even as handheld portable games. In time three major companies came into play:
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
On September 23, 1889 Fusajino Yamauchi created Hanafuda. He came up with a new
approach to increase the games popularity. Instead of making regular cards like everyone else he
decided to make each one of his unique, with handcrafted artwork that would drive the sales of
the cards (Fusajiro Yamauchi). The cards ended up being a hit and not only made the company a
success but also made the card game really popular. With Hanafuda cards now in demand
Nintendo quickly became the top game company in Japan (Fusajiro Yamauchi).
In 1959 with their business going down Nintendo struck a deal with Disney. With the
help of Tv ads and a good distribution system through many large toy and department stores
around Japan, these cards sold over 600,000 packs that same year (Nintendo history Lesson).
The new president of Nintendo wanted to put his plans into motion by transforming the company
into more than a card company.
To help with this transition he changed the name from Nintendo Playing Cards Co. to
what it is known as today- Nintendo (Nintendo history Lesson). Yamauchi had a storm of ideas
and wanted to make it big. The first product he made was in the form of individually portioned
instant rice (Nintendo History Lesson). Yamauchi learned the hard way that instant rice was not
the future for Nintendo. He then went on to open a love hotel, a taxi company and finally toys.
Yamauchi’s ideas would take advantage of this and pave the way for the company to the video
game and entertainment industry (Nintendo History Lesson).
Nintendo’s roots in the video game industry began in 1974, when they were given the
rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey home video game system in Japan (Nintendo). It
wasn’t until the year 1977 that Nintendo actually made their own video games. During this time,
Nintendo hired a student to help them develop their own console. When the Color TV Game 6
was featured, it had six different versions of light tennis (Chronology of Nintendo).
In 1983 Nintendo came out with its most popular arcade titles. They released Donkey
Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. video game. Along with Donkey Kong came Mario. Mario was
originally named jumpman, a portly carpenter in red and blue. NAO had to prepare the game for
America, so they wanted him to have a name. As the story goes, they were mulling over what to
name jumpman when the landlord, Mario Segale, arrived at their house, demanding the overdue
rent be paid. When he left, the staff had a new name for jumpman: “Mario” (History of Mario).
Coming up with video game ideas for this character was a whole new task.
Miyamoto intended Mario to be his go- to character. He wanted the silly looking fellow
to easily be able to fit into any game as needed. The only problem was his occupation didn’t sit
right. A colleague informed Miyamoto that his new character looked like a plumber (IGN
Presents). Miyamoto’s next idea was to put Mario in a crab/turtle/firefly-infested sewer. For
player two, Miyamoto made another character, changing Mario’s colors to create an identical
“brother” (IGN Presents).
Early videogames were largely designed by the programmers coding them. Nintendo on
the other hand had an artist working for them. The games Shigeru Miyamoto designed were
very different, merely because he had no idea what he was supposed to do. Which left him free
to explore, and exploration soon became a part of his games (IGN Presents).
In the beginning played with the idea of making Mario and Luigi bigger and smaller as
they gained and lost power ups. After some time experimentation would reveal hidden items,
rooms and shortcuts. Careful attention went into creating the Mushroom Kingdom’s challenges.
Miyamoto wanted his player’s experience to be consistently good and constantly evolving,
always interesting, never overwhelming (IGN Presents).
After the release of the SNES in 1991, Nintendo started thinking about developing a CD-
ROM version of their console. They got together with Sony, which eventually came up with the
Playstation. After Nintendo realized that Sony had cleverly-worded agreement that allowed them
to license all SNES CD-based games, the two companies abandoned the deal (Sony Playstation).
Sony not wanting to trash all their hard work on the playstation, they continued
developing it on their own. The new game was a 32-bit standalone Playstation and was built
from the ground up and was not an extension of the one developed by Nintendo SNES. (Sony
Playstation). So much work had been pushed into it the results from 1994 were completely
different from the concept that was drawn up in 1991.
The playstation had the advantage over the Saturn because it was easily developed, which
attracted many game developers. It also sold for $100 cheaper than the Saturn in the US, which
in return attracted consumers (Sony Playstation). They released the first playstation in 1994 and
had great success.
Sony officially unveiled plans for its next generation playstation in March of 1999. The
first console was an impressive piece of work. It had an emotion Engine, a chip to enhance the
graphics and DVD-playback, at this time it was very new (The total History). The months
leading up to the consoles launch however weren’t happy ones for Sony. Early previews of the
games were not well received. It was enough to for some people to have reasonable doubts
about Sony’s ability to dominate the market a second time (The Total History).
On the other side, Microsoft was launching their own game console, the Xbox. The
video game system had one of the most successful launches in video game history (Xbox Launch
When Bill Gates first announced the Xbox, no one knew what to make of it. With sony
bashing Nintendo into a distant second place and Sega struggling to stay in the arena, his plans
seemed almost crazy by most (The Complete history). At the game developers conference in San
Jose, Bill Gates finally ended months of waiting and wondering by revealing Microsoft’s plans
to launch a home game console. The console “would be three times as powerful as the PS2 and
would transform the way we consumed electronic entertainment,” said Bill Gates (The Complete
Many developers and industry veterans were less enthusiastic. Most believed that it
would never work, or it would just be a PC plugged into the TV. An incredible 156 developers
including well known industries like Activision, THQ and Capcom pledged to support the
system (The Complete History). Sony and Nintendo just ignored Microsoft’s efforts to muscle
their way into the gaming territory.
By 2001 everyone had heard of the Xbox but no one had seen one. At the consumer
show in Las Vegas and with help from The Rock-Bill Gates finally showed the world an Xbox
for the first time (The Complete History). The critics let it fly, they said the big black box was
hardly pretty, and also said the controller was chunky and inability to fit inside a normal adult
pair of hands, let alone a kids. After a year, xbox finally hits US stores. Bill Gates even attends
the official launch. Microsoft ended up selling over one million units in three weeks (The
Over the past fifty years video gaming has become part of the normal everyday life.
Many industries have risen and fallen. Three have been able to rise against the odds and make a
name for themselves: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
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