Two white joysticks on a table

Games and innovation: a short history of game design on different platforms

Year after year we watch the release of new high-budget games, the constant development of the console game market, increasing number of F2P projects and the rapid increasing of the number of game products on Google Play and App Store. However, people who were engaged in gameplay in the early 90s-00s, still remember such genres as TBS and RTS, which started to fade away with the emergence of new games. And this is just one example of constantly changing and evolving industry of games and game design. Let’s take a look at the game design history and find out what elements distinguish a gameplay on every platform.

THE VERY BEGINNING

In the distant 1978, the commercially successful game called Space Invaders has motivated large investors to turn their attention to the game industry. This video game was released in Japan on a platform, which is now known as the arcade machine. Despite the fact the Space Invaders was a pretty simple game, it is considered to be a founder of modern games. Moreover, it is Space Invaders, which helped the gaming industry to become one of the largest in the world.

Soon Space Invaders have quickly spread from Japan to America, where 60 000 units were sold in just 2 years. Seems that every bar, bowling club and cinema offered its visitors to play the game. All of this resulted in a boom of arcade machines and the first step in the evolution of the game industry and game design.

The real breakthrough happened in 1979 when American distributor Bally Midway tripled the arcade machine market in the US. By the way, many famous games like Pac Man, Street Fighter or Killer Instinct, have appeared on arcade machines at first and later transferred to other platforms.

GAME CONSOLES

Along with arcade machines, game consoles have also become very popular. Although the history of consoles has begun back in 1972 with the release of the world’s first home-made game console Magnavox Odyssey. The real breakthrough happened in 1977 when Atari 2600 gaming console comes on sale. Because of the Atari investments, the popularization of computer and video games reaches a new level. The market of video games starts to replenish with new big players, such as Sega, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

Old fashioned Sega game console

Sega game console

THE ERA OF PERSONAL COMPUTERS

Personal computers are another major gaming platform, which started to develop since the 1960s. The first games were simple text adventure genres in which communication between the player and the computer was carried out by entering commands through the keyboard.

The future evolution of games on the PC platform is closely related to the growth of the capabilities of PC and its elements. The popularization of a computer mouse as a part of the interface, the appearance of sound cards, which were able to produce full-blown sounds, the improvement of the quality of an image and, of course, the development of computer networks, all of this resulted in a new generation of games.

With the advent of the Internet era, the computer games market has changed dramatically. Now developers were able to bring the players’ biggest dream to life – an ability to play with other users around the world without leaving a home. The very first online game was made in a form of text and launched on the TelNet network in 1978. The developers called their creation a Multi User Dungeon or short MUD. Nowadays MUD is the main origin of all virtual games we know.

A man playing computer game

A man playing computer game

BROWSER AS AN INDEPENDENT GAME PLATFORM

The development of the Internet brought new online projects: client and browser. In the late 90s, the increasing speed of the Internet connection has turned a browser into a separate and independent platform for games. Browser acts as an operating shell and allows users to play games without installing it onto the computer. For a long time developing game markets like China or Russia have had a big share of browser games.

SOCIAL NETWORKS AS A PART OF THE GAME INDUSTRY

The middle 2000s distinguished by a rapid growth of popularity of social networks, which have become a new way of communication between people. Game developers simply could not ignore this fact and created a new browser sub-platform and games for it. They are now called social. Many thought that it was a huge breakthrough in the gaming industry. Since it was an innovation, a lot of game developers turned their attention to social games, which resulted in 200% of annual market growth. However, the saturation came pretty quickly. And high-quality games with good graphics and serious gameplay replaced the low-quality gaming products.

A boy and a girl holding vagetables

FarmVille – popular social network game

SMARTPHONE GAMES

The tremendous growth of the popularity of mobile phones caused the next round of the development of the gaming industry. Mobile phones have quickly become a new platform for communication as well as for game distribution. Java games for mobile phones did not have any serious competition neither from browser-based games nor client or social games. At the end of the first decade of the 2000s smartphones appeared. New technology has allowed game developers to conduct powerful projects, which showed the mobile game market in all its glory.

In fact, the mobile games are now being implemented through two types of devices: smartphones and tablets. But due to the similarities in operating systems, technical characteristics and way of delivering the end product to the customer, developers rarely separate them into different platforms. Many consider the mobile game market to be very promising and capable of generating maximum profit with low entry investments.

A person playing game on a smartphone

A man playing Leo’s fortune on a smartphone

WHAT’S NEXT?

The history of game development shows that the process of the emergence of innovative platforms for games is accelerating. Some games “explode” the market and drive out of business the old ones. Others do not reach such a “wow” effect, but still are able to find their niche, like for example, games on airplanes, smart watches or Smart TV. Most likely that in the upcoming years the mobile game market will be forced out of the gaming industry by a more advanced technology of human-computer interaction. It might be either a virtual or augmented reality or a virtual reality with full immersion. Only time will tell.

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