Monday, 27 October 2008

The middle Ages of computer games

The 'middle ages' really started around the second generation of computer games. With the first generation being the already explained arcade and simplistic 'Pong' type games, the second generation of games, were for the second generation of games consoles, E.G the Atari 2600, Matell Intellivision and the Colego vision.

These consoles were a giant step forward from the consoles of the first generation such as the clunky arcade machines and scientific calculators. These consoles were specifically designed for home use, they were user friendly and designed with the only purpose of entertaining.

Yet unlike the 'Pong' console, these systems allowed the user to buy different games, often stored on cartridges or tapes, and play a different variety of games.

The first of the second generation consoles to hit the market was the Atari 2600 in 1977. The Atari 2600 made famous the plug in cartridge games, though it was not the first! The 'Fairchild Channel F' was the first console to have cartridge games, though the release of the Atari overshadowed the Fairchild's poorer graphics.

In related news, the Atari 2600 was the first console I ever played, and it was owned by my childhood friend Sam, whom I have known for 15 of my 19 years!

Three years after Atari released the 2600 and during Atari's dominance of the market, Mattel released the 'Intellivision'. The Intellivision console featured graphics far superior to anything on the market, and their advertising slogan was 'The closest thing to the real thing'. This console was only on the market for around ten years, and in those ten years it sold over three million units at a market price of $299!

Two years after the Intellivision the 'ColecoVision' console was released, not much had changed except the different games and better graphics, a trend still seen today. However, The ColecoVision did not see the booming sales of the other consoles. But it had better graphics? surely with a growing industry it would see large sales?

At this point in the industry, things started to go pear shaped. With three major consoles overcrowding the market, and a glut of poor quality games making the industry look poor and foul, the industry crashed in 1983/4.

These poor games are exemplified by a game called 'Custers Revenge' created by a company called 'Mystique' who made a collection of pornographic games for the Atari 2600. In the game 'Custers revenge' the goal of the game is to move General Custer across the screen, and rape a native American woman while dodging arrows.

These poor games put a lot of people off video games consoles, and created a lot of bad press that stopped potential customers taking interest in the industry, that, coupled with hundreds of companies creating games for an uninterested audience led to many of those companies going bankrupt. With so many companies going broke, there was little incentive for new developers to start in the industry and as a result things ground to a halt.

However, the third generation kick started things again with the NES (Nintendo Entertainment system) in 1985, which really became popular in 1987.

On my next blog entry, I will talk about the modern Era, and how I believe the industry is looking. Until then farewell.

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