LAFS SVGI Session 4 - History of Computer and Mobile Games

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Lecture for Session 4 of The Los Angeles Film School's Survey of the Video Game Industry course.

Lecture for Session 4 of The Los Angeles Film School's Survey of the Video Game Industry course.

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  • Alan Mathison Turing (1912 – 1954), was a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, giving a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.

    A Turing machine is a hypothetical device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPU inside a computer.
  • Nim is an ancient mathematical game of strategy in which two players take turns removing objects from distinct heaps. The normal game is between two players and played with three heaps of any number of objects. The two players alternate taking any number of objects from any single one of the heaps. The goal is to be the last to take an object.
  • Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was an early British computer.[1] The machine, having been inspired by John von Neumann's seminal First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, was constructed by Maurice Wilkes and his team at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory in England.

    The term Von Neumann architecture describes a design architecture for an electronic digital computer with subdivisions of a processing unit consisting of an arithmetic logic unit and processor registers, a control unit containing an instruction register and program counter, a memory to store both data and instructions, external mass storage, and input and output mechanisms

    EDSAC was the second usefully operational electronic digital stored-program computer.
  • Higinbotham created Tennis for Two to cure the boredom of visitors to Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he worked.He learned that one of Brookhaven's computers could calculate ballistic missile trajectories and he used this ability to form the game's foundation.
  • In 1961, a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell, programmed a game titled Spacewar! on the PDP-1, a new computer at the time. The game pitted two human players against each other, each controlling a spacecraft capable of firing missiles, while a star in the center of the screen created a large hazard for the crafts. The game was eventually distributed with new DEC computers and traded throughout the then-primitive Internet. Spacewar! is credited as the first influential computer game.
  • Don Daglow wrote the first interactive baseball game, computer baseball, on a DEC PDP-10 mainframe at Pomona College. Players could manage play-by-play strategy for individual games, or simulate an entire season. Daglow went on to team with programmer Eddie Dombrower to design Earl Weaver Baseball, published by Electronic Arts in 1987.

    Don Daglow is best known for being the creator of early games from several different genres, including pioneering simulation game Utopia for Intellivision in 1981, role-playing game Dungeon in 1975, sports games including the first interactive computer baseball game Baseball in 1971, and the first graphical MMORPG, Neverwinter Nights in 1991. He founded long-standing game developer Stormfront Studios in 1988.
  • Star Trek was created (probably by Mike Mayfield) on a Sigma 7 minicomputer at University of California. This is the best-known and most widely played of the 1970s Star Trek titles, and was played on a series of small "maps" of galactic sectors printed on paper or on the screen. It was the first major game to be ported across hardware platforms by students. Daglow also wrote a popular Star Trek game for the PDP-10 during 1970–1972, which presented the action as a script spoken by the TV program's characters. A number of other Star Trek themed games were also available via PLATO and DECUS throughout the decade.
  • Hunt the Wumpus is an early video game, based on a simple hide and seek format featuring a mysterious monster (the Wumpus) that lurks deep inside a network of rooms. It was originally a text-based game written in BASIC. It has since been ported to various programming languages and platforms including graphical versions.
  • Brand Fortner and others developed Airfight as an educational flight simulator. To make it more interesting, all players shared an airspace flying their choice of military jets, loaded with selected weapons and fuel and to fulfill their desire to shoot down other players' aircraft. Despite mediocre graphics and slow screen refresh, it became a popular game on the PLATO system. Airfight was the inspiration for what became the Microsoft Flight Simulator.

    The PLATO system was an educational computing environment designed at the University of Illinois and which ran on mainframes made by Control Data Corporation. Games were often exchanged between different PLATO systems.
  • William Crowther wrote the first modern text adventure game, Adventure (originally called ADVENT, and later Colossal Cave). It was programmed in Fortran for the PDP-10. The player controls the game through simple sentence-like text commands and receives descriptive text as output. The game was later re-created by students on PLATO, so it is one of the few titles that became part of both the PLATO and DEC traditions.
  • Don Daglow, then a student at Claremont Graduate University, wrote the first role-playing video game on PDP-10 mainframes: Dungeon. The game was an unlicensed implementation of the new tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Although displayed in text, it was the first game to use line of sight graphics, as the top-down dungeon maps showing the areas that the party had seen or could see took into consideration factors such as light or darkness and the differences in vision between species.
  • Don Daglow, then a student at Claremont Graduate University, wrote the first role-playing video game on PDP-10 mainframes: Dungeon. The game was an unlicensed implementation of the new tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Although displayed in text, it was the first game to use line of sight graphics, as the top-down dungeon maps showing the areas that the party had seen or could see took into consideration factors such as light or darkness and the differences in vision between species.
  • The writing of the original Zork was started by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank, Tim Anderson, and Bruce Daniels. Unlike Crowther, Daglow and Yob, the Zork team recognized the potential to move these games to the new personal computers and they founded text adventure publisher Infocom in 1979. The company was later sold to Activision.


  • 1. Session 4 David Mullich Survey of the Video Game Industry The Los Angeles Film School
  • 2. 1947: Alan Turing Develops Chess Theoretical Program  Colleague Dietrich Prinz writes the limited chess program for Manchester University's Ferranti Mark I  Only capable of computing "mate-in-two" problems Alan Turing, “Father of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence”
  • 3. 1951: NIMROD  First instance of a digital computer designed specifically to play a game (Nim)  Created by Ferranti and weighed over a ton  Duplicate displayed at the New York World's Fair
  • 4. 1951: OXO / Noughts and Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe)  First computer game to use a digital graphical display  Created by Alexander S. Douglas for the world's first stored-program computer, EDSAC
  • 5. 1958: Tennis For Two  The first video game ever made!  Created by American physicist William Higginbotham on a Donner Model 30 analog computer
  • 6. 1961: SpaceWar!  The first video game you’d actually want to play (that is, the first influential video game).  Programmed by a group of students at MIT, including Steve Russell, on the PDP-1 Play SpaceWar!
  • 7. 1971: First Interactive Baseball Game  Don Daglow writes computer baseball on a DEC PDP-10 mainframe at Pomona College  Daglow and programmer Eddie Dombrower later create Earl Weaver Baseball, published by Electronic Arts in 1987 Don Daglow
  • 8. 1971: Star Trek  Best-known and most widely played of the 1970s Star Trek titles  Programmed (probably by Mike Mayfield) on a Sigma 7 minicomputer at University of California. Play Star Trek Game
  • 9. 1972: Hunt The Wumpus  First text adventure  Written by Gregory Yorb in BASIC for the PDP-10  Written in reaction to existing hide-and-seek games such as Hurkle, Mugwump, and Snark Play Hunt The Wumpus
  • 10. 1974: Airflight  Developed by Brand Fortner and others as an educational flight simulator  Popular game on the PLATO system despite mediocre graphics  Inspiration for what became the Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • 11. 1975: Adventure  The first modern text adventure game  Originally called ADVENT and later Colossal Cave  Programmed in Fortran on the PDP- 10 by William Play Colossal Cave Adventure Crowther
  • 12. 1975: Dungeon  First role-playing video game  Created by Daglow on a PDP-10 at Claremont Graduate University  Unlicensed implementation of Dungeons & Dragons Don Daglow
  • 13. 1978: Multi-User Dungeon  The first MUD and oldest Virtual World in existence  Created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at Essex University on a PDP-10  Began the heritage that culminates with today's Richard Bartle MMORPGs
  • 14. 1979: Zork  Dave Lebling, Marc Blank, Tim Anderson, and Bruce Daniels begin writing Zork for a PDP-10 in 1977  Team recognized game's potential on personal computers and founded text adventure publisher Infocom in 1979
  • 15. PC Gaming G4 Icons – PC Gaming (21:41)
  • 16. 1970s: Home Computer Hobbyists  Earliest home computers were sold as kits and had no operating systems  Hobbyists gathered to discuss home computing  First meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley in 1975 inspires Steve Wozniak to design the Apple I 1975: Altair 8800
  • 17. 1970s: Home Computer Hobbyists  Games were distributed through hobbyists groups and magazines such as Creative Computing and Dr Dobb’s Journal of Computer Orthodontia  These publications provided game code that could be typed into a computer and played
  • 18. 1975: Microchess  Written by Peter R. Jennings for the KIM-1  Jennings founded Personal Software to publish to the growing microcomputer market  First computer game to sell 10,000 units, almost exclusively on cassette tape
  • 19. 1977: “Trinity” of First Successful PCs  Apple II, designed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak  Commodore PET, designed by Chuck Peddle  TRS-80, sold by Radio Shack
  • 20. 1979: Sierra On-line  Founded by Ken and Roberta Williams as On-Line Systems  Best known for King’s Quest graphic adventure games, designed by Roberta, which were ground-breaking for its color graphics and third-person perspective  Eventually purchased by Vivendi and Activision Blizzard King’s Quest 1 Walkthrough.
  • 21. 1980: IBM PC  IBM markets low-cost computer in response to the Apple II’s success  PC-DOS operating system created by Bill Gate’s Microsoft  IBM’s agreement allows Microsoft to sell the OS, under the name MS-DOS, to other PC makers  Within a decade, PC “clones” dominate the home computer market
  • 22. 1982: Electronic Arts  Founded by Trip Hawkins  Hawkins established the Producer model of publishing, based on record producers  Hawkins left EA in 1991 to form 3DO and later, Digital Chocolate  Currently the third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Activision-Blizzard and Nintendo
  • 23. 1983: Origin Systems  Founded by brothers Richard and Robert Garriott  Best known for Ultima role-playing games designed by Richard under the name Lord British  Other well-known Origin designers included Chris Roberts (Wing Commander) and Warren Spector (System Shock and Deus Ex) Ultima 4 Walkthrough Wing Commander 1 Walkthrough
  • 24. 1984: Commodore 64  Most popular home computer of its day and the best-selling computer model of all time internationally  Advanced graphic and sound capabilities for its time, and utilized the same joystick ports as the Atari 2600  Motto: Computers for the masses, not the classes  Inspired a whole new generation of video game programmers
  • 25. 1985: Atari ST and Commodore Amiga 64  16/32-bit computer based on the Motorolla 68000 CPU with 512K of RAM, a graphical user interface and 3-1/2” microfloppy disks  The Apple Macintosh also arrived at this time but never gained traction as a gaming system
  • 26. 1987: Maniac Mansion (Lucasfilm Games)  Created by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick for Apple II and Commodore 64  First game to use the SCUMM graphical game engine, an improvement on contemporary text parser-based graphical adventure games Maniac Mansion Walkthrough
  • 27. 1989: Prince of Persia (Broderbund)  Created by Jordan Mechner for the Apple II  Platform Game that represented a great leap forward in the quality of animation seen in video games Prince of Persia Walkthrough Prince of Persia Tech Doc Prince of Persia 2 Design Doc
  • 28. 1991: Blizzard Entertainment  Founded by Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse  Its first breakthough hit was Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994  Known for the Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft series  First acquired by Davidson & Associates and later by Vivendi, which merged with Activision in 2008 Michael Monhaime Diablo Walkthrough
  • 29. 1991: Civilization (MicroProse)  One of the most popular strategy games of all time  Lead to several sequels, most recently Civilization V  Designed by Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley Sid Meier
  • 30. 1991: Neverwinter Knights (Strategic Simulations)  First multiplayer online role-playing game to display graphics  Ran from 1991 to 1997 on AOL  Licensed Dungeons & Dragons product  Developed by Don Daglow’s Stormfront Studios
  • 31. 1992: Dune II (Virgin Interactive)  Established the real-time strategy game format that laid the foundation for Command & Conquer, Warcraft and Starcraft  Based on David Lynch’s 1984 movie Dune  Designed by Brett Sperry, Joseph Bostic and Aaron E. Powell of Westwood Studios Dune II Walkthrough
  • 32. 1992: Doom (id Software)  First-person shooter widely regarded as one of the most influential titles in gaming history  Controversial for its graphic violence  Designed by Tom Hall, Sandy Peterson, John Romero, Shawn Green John Romero Doom Walkthrough
  • 33. 1993: Myst (Broderbund)  Graphic adventure game that became the best-selling PC game until The Sims in 2002  Helped drive the adoption of CD-ROM format  Designed and directed by brothers Robyn and Rand Miller of Cyan Myst Walkthrough
  • 34. 1996: Valve Software  Founded by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington  Known for Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Left 4 Dead series  Created Steam software distribution platform Half-Life Walkthrough
  • 35. 1997: Grand Theft Auto  Developed by DMA Design (now RockStar North) and published by BMG Interactive  First of the enormously successful (and violent) open world action-adventure series  Originally released on Windows in October 1997 and then on PlayStation in December
  • 36. 1998: Snake on Nokia Mobile Phones  Snake was a casual video games that originated in arcades during the late 1970s  Snake became the standard pre-loaded game on Nokia mobile phones in 1998  Soon every major phone brand offered “time killer games” that could be played for very short moments
  • 37. 1999: EverQuest  Developed by Sony's 989 Studios and its early-1999 spin-off Verant Interactive, and published by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE)  Designed by Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover, and Bill Trost  Infamous for its addictive qualities. Many players refer to it as "EverCrack". There has been one well-publicized suicide of an EverQuest user that resulted in his mother founding Online Gamers Anonymous. Everquest Walkthrough
  • 38. 2000: PopCap Games  Advent of Flash created a boom in web-based casual games  Flagship title Bejeweled has sold more than 50 million units  Founded by John Vechey, Brian Fiete and Jason Kapaika  Now owned by Electronic Arts
  • 39. 2000: The Sims (Electronic Arts)  Landmark game allowing players to build a virtual world from the ground up  It became the best-selling game in PC history, displacing Myst  Attracted casual gamers and female gamers (who made up 60% of its players  Designed by Will Wright (creator of SimCity) of Maxis
  • 40. 2004: World of Warcraft (Blizzard)  Legitimized the entire genre of massively multiplayer online games  Perfected the rules and experience of MMOs  Designed by Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, Tom Chilton
  • 41. 2007: Zynga  Known for its line of Facebook social games, especially Farmville (2009)  Founded by Marc Pinkus and others. Don Mattrick is current CEO  Approached $1B in revenue in 2011, surpassing market value of Electronic Arts  Began trading on NASDAQ in 2011. Stock market price has since plummeted
  • 42. 2007: iPhone (Apple)  Fundamentally changed the mobile phone industry by being designed to handle other tasks, such as gaming, beyond communications  App Store becomes digital distribution store for iOS games
  • 43. Steve Wozniak Talks Games Steve Wozniak Talks Video Games (48:08)