A video game is a game that offers interactivity and competition without necessarily requiring another player. Ralph Baer is noted as the father of video games after creating the very first game console, known as the Magnavox Odyssey, in 1972. Baer realized that Magnavox’s excessive inventory of TV sets could be put toward a more engaging experience than the passive activity of watching television and thus, the video game was born.
The earliest video games were mainly variations on “Pong.” 1978 saw the introduction of Space Invaders as well as the programmable VCS by Atari. Magnavox responded by producing a sequel to the Odyssey. Gaming has gone through several generations of hardware and consoles since the creation of the Odyssey. Between Nintendo’s Wii U, Sony’s PlayStation 4, and Microsoft’s X-Box One, console gaming is now in its eight generation.
Beyond the traditionally considered gaming console, portable consoles have been an industry staple going as far back as the Microvision of 1979. Nintendo reinvigorated this iffy market with its Game Boy device in 1989, with a majority of the machine’s early profits coming from its pack-in title of “Tetris.” Currently, the handheld console market is split between various models of Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita.
In the nearly half-century of time that games have existed, multiple genres of titles have risen and fallen into popularity.
“FPS.” First Person Shooters are games that take place from the avatar’s perspective and offer a wide variety of weapons to be deployed against threats encountered within hallways and courtyards. Notable FPS titles include “Doom,” “Call of Duty,” and “Quake.”
“RTS.” Real Time Strategy games involve you managing your military and/or empire in real time. While you’re sending units to invade, harvest resources, build structures, or shore up your defenses, time is ticking and your reflexes and ability to quickly react to changes in strategy are constantly tested. Notable RTS titles include “Starcraft II,” and “Defense of the Ancients.”
Third Person Action. These games are similar to FPS games, but the camera is oriented some distance behind your avatar so that you have a better awareness of your character’s surroundings. Notable Third Person Action titles include “God of War,” “Tomb Raider,” and “Dishonored.”
“RPG” Role-Playing Games are story-heavy titles, usually set within a fantasy setting but occasionally in futuristic worlds. These games feature a heavy amount of customization and stat-crunching for your character, likely with several followers and allies joining you on all sorts of quests. Notable RPG franchises include “Final Fantasy,” “Dragon’s Age,” and “Mass Effect.” RPGs are notable for having a sub-genre, the MMORPG, which involves hundred of thousands of players interacting with a virtual world; see “World of Warcraft” or “The Secret World” for examples of the MMORPG genre.
The future of gaming promises some level of virtual reality and additional progress toward the defragmentation of consoles as many of the titles on current generation consoles seem to overlap each other.