Games of the Twentieth Century

Computer games are a phenomenon of the information society, which has gained exceptional popularity in recent decades. Despite their wide distribution, their place in the system of information culture and social structures of society is not yet fully defined.

The Age of the Eighties in Video Games


The 1980s can rightfully be considered the "golden age" of the industry. This is the time of the second and third generation of consoles, the enormous popularity of arcades and personal computers, the release of iconic projects like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., King's Quest, Pitfall! But there was a fly in the ointment, the market crash of 1983.

This was not the end of consoles, since the crisis mainly affected North America. In the same year Nintendo released the legendary Famicom, which was greeted very warmly by consumers. Thus began the third generation, still 8-bit, but already able to please players with sprite graphics instead of blocky graphics and better sound.

In 1985 the Famicom was renamed the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for the European and North American markets. Unlike its predecessors, Nintendo tightly controlled the release of games on its console, so consumers rarely received a substandard product. The titles speak for themselves: Darkwing Duck, Super Mario Bros. 1-3, Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda.

What about computers? In 1984, computers began to dominate the still-uncorrected consoles. PCs provided the same gaming features, there was no need to insert cartridges every time - games stayed on the computer even after it was turned off. Computers were becoming more and more popular.

Following the success of the Apple II and Commodore PET in 1977, cheaper competitors began to appear. The early 1980s saw the launch of the Commodore VIC-20 and 64, the NEC PC-8000, PC-6001, PC-88 and PC-98, the Sharp X1 and X68000, 8-bit PCs from Atari, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC and computers with the MSX architecture. Competition drove the home PC markets through promotional campaigns aimed at attracting customers.

Britain's Sinclair Research produced a line of ZXs-the ZX80 (1980), the ZX 81 (1981), and the ZX Spectrum (1982). Games for the latter were plentiful: The Hobbit, Frogger, Pac-Man, Robocop 1-2, Midnight Resistance and others. The picture was displayed on the TV, and the sound on the tape recorder.

The main competitors of the Spectrum were the American Commodore 64. Thanks to good graphics and sound at the time, the "sixty-fourth" also competed with the leaders of the console market. Street Fighter 1-2, The Amazing Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wizardry and many other projects were released on it.

Let's look at the most significant of them:

  • Action-adventure games: The Legend of Zelda (1986) - a game combining various elements: puzzles, a monetary system, a simplified RPG-style character build-up, etc. Also, The Legend of Zelda was one of the first games with an open world and non-linear gameplay.
  • Cinematic platformers: Prince of Persia (1989) was a fantasy platformer developed by Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 on Apple II computers. The game was notable for its high-quality (for those days) animation - Mechner used the rotoscoping technique to create it.
  • RPG (computer role-playing video game): Akalabeth (1980) - was written in BASIC for the Aplle II computer and was released the same year as Rogue (see previous article). This game became the ancestor of the whole game universe - Ultima.
  • Hack and slash: Golden Axe (1988) is the first game in Sega's The Golden Axe series. The main developer was Makoto Uchida, author of such games as Altered Beast, Wing War, and Die Hard Arcade.
  • Scrolling shooters: Defender (1980) was the first shoot 'em up game to use horizontal side scrolling. Scramble (1981) was the first game in the genre with several separate levels.
  • Racing games: Turbo (1981) by Sega was the first third-person view race, and Pole Position (1982) by Namco used pseudo-3D sprite-based graphics.
  • Real-time strategy: Herzog Zwei (1989) is the first RTS, a precursor to such a popular game as Dune II. It is the earliest example of a game with a set of features that fit the definition of modern RTS games.
  • Stealth games: 005 (1981), a game from Sega, is the earliest example of a stealth game. However, the first commercially successful stealth game was Metal Gear, created in 1987 by Japanese game designer and producer Hideo Kojima.
  • Survival horror: Haunted House (1981) introduced horror fiction elements to video games. Sweet Home (1989) defined many of the characteristics of modern survival horror. Gameplay included fighting horrible creatures and solving various puzzles.

The creators of all these games were moving down a path that had not been explored at the time. They were trying to figure out how to make you feel like you were in outer space or moving through an open field. Each of these games offered individual mechanics that are still used in the industry today. This is due in no small part to how much projects from the past have inspired contemporaries

Despite the crisis, the game industry is making a powerful leap forward in the 1980s. More and more advanced means for human immersion in virtual reality are appearing, which itself is becoming more complex and interesting. In the late 1980s, the industry confidently divided into three areas - PC, console, arcade machines.

For PC gaming, the 90s were the "golden era"


Since the early 1990s, "Strategies" have also been actively developing. It was one of those genres, along with quests, which were not interesting for console giants, and that's why the first 5 years of its existence were mostly released on PC. It all started with Dune II (1992), developed in the famous Westwood Studios, which was bought by EA in 1998 and became EA Los Angeles. It was the beginning of the genre as we know it today. Command & Conquer, StarCraft, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and many others were born out of Dune II. Also the early 90's was the heyday of quests as a genre of games.

Increased hardware and software capabilities made what seemed like a distant dream in the previous decade a reality. It would take a weighty volume to describe at least some of the landmark projects of that time, but we will mention a few.

First-person shooters (aka FPS's) Wolfenstein 3-D (1992), the legendary Doom (1993), Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake (both released in 1996). These days their graphics make you smile, but at the time the very possibility to run and shoot in three-dimensional space (even if pseudo-three-dimensional) was impressive. In 1998 came out the legendary Half-Life, and in 2000 at least the legendary Counter-Strike - one of the main cyber sport disciplines of the "zero years" and a form of leisure school children in the CIS.

Lovers of construction and warfare also found something to do. Sid Meyer's Civilization (1991) launched an entire genre that is still alive today, the 4X-strategies. Westwood Studios' Dune 2 (1992) ignited the flame of real-time strategy that was rekindled by their Command & Conquer (1995). The now-famous Blizzard entered the game with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994) and Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness (1995). In 1998, the company released StarCraft, which for many became the standard for the genre and the national sport in South Korea. In the same decade, the star of "Heroes" - the Heroes of Might & Magic series (the first game was released in 1995) rose. The most popular was The Restoration of Erathia (1999), the content for which fans are releasing even now. Those who liked the creation more than fighting could realize their ambitions in The Settlers (1993) and SimCity 2000 (1993).

On the RPG scene, CRPGs like Fallout 1-2 (1997 / 1998), Diablo 1-2 (1996 / 2000), Baldur's Gate 1-2 (1997 / 2000), and of course Planescape: Torment (1999) thundered. "First-person RPGs were represented by The Elder Scrolls series. Other genres - quests, simulators, action, too - did not stand still. Otherwise, gamers would have never played Myst (1993), Worms (1995), X-Com (1994) and many other titles. In the 90s, multiplayer and, therefore, MMORPGs - such as Ultima Online (1997) - quite existed.

Having recently emerged, they have quickly become a significant segment of the leisure sphere. They have changed behavioral skills and generated new traditions, influencing the structure of society. Computer games as a socio-cultural phenomenon of everyday life are a unique product of the development of science and technology, an effective means of acquiring symbolic experience for the emerging personality.