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The Modern History of the Games Industry Emma Westecott Assistant Professor: Game Design, OCAD firstname.lastname@example.org
Prehistory of Games Games and play appear to be cultural universals - they are found everywhere. Anthropologist Edward Tylor (1879) suggested that dice games have their origin in divination. Sacred and profane use of games have existed side-by-side. Warning tales about games’ power, and laws regulating gambling and gameplay have been recorded from multiple societies.
Games’ Holding Power Games are capable of capturing attention and energy, and holding them for extended periods of time. Societies have found it necessary to control this power of games in multiple ways. The holding power of games is one of the major research problems in Game Studies: why do we play games?
Earliest Digital Games Impulse to ‘hack’, or play around with computers’ possibilities. Even in 1945, Alan Turing used chess playing as an example of what computer could do. The first functional chess program was written in 1950. UNIVAC, the first commercial computer, had construction costs close to one million dollars in 1951 - its use was extremely expensive and controlled.
Tic-Tac-Toe (A. S. Douglas,1952) Early demonstration of computer game with graphical user interface: ‘OXO’, a version of tic-tac-toe for the British EDSAC computer. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCTRWD3DFsA Tic-Tac-Toe, created by A. S. Douglas, 1952. Image credit: Martin Campbell-Kelly, Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick.
Other Early Demonstrations In January 1947, a patent application for a ‘cathode-ray amusement device’ was recorded. The patent was granted to an electronic missile firing game, designed by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. In 1958, Willy Higginbotham, working for Brookhaven National Laboratory, implemented a two-player tennis game using analogue computer and an oscilloscope for display. See ‘Tennis for Two’ video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2E9iSQfGdg
Early Commercial Video Games Commercial disputes surround the question of who ‘invented’ video games. Electronic games appear to have been implemented in various forms by multiple groups and individuals. Engineer Ralph Baer developed a commercial television game system in 1966-1969. The system became known as Magnavox Odyssey - it came packed with twelve games.
Games of Magnavox Odyssey Magnavox Odyssey Game Overlays. Image credit: David Winter, PONG-Story. Source: http://www.pong-story.com/odyssey.htm
From Spacewar! (1962) to Atari Stephen ‘Slug’ Russell, with fellow students, implemented an early ‘space shooter’ game for DEC Digital PDP-1 computer. Nolan Bushnell, with Ted Dabney, developed coin-operated arcade game Computer Space, released by Nutting Associates in 1971. Bushnell and Dabney founded Atari, Inc. in 1972, and released their tennis game, PONG, developed by engineer Al Alcorn. Sanders/Magnavox sued Atari, which settled out of court and paid licence fees to produce electronic ping-pong games – the video game industry had been born.
Multi-Layered Meaning Making Behind their digital surface, many games are ‘remediated’ versions of old games. Digital information technology adds a specific layer of meaning to digital games. Each generation of digital games has been visually different from the previous - they demonstrate the powers of latest technology. Core gameplay is an embedded shell, which extends beyond games’ graphics to the significance of gaming hardware itself. This lesson involves playing two old games online.
Games at the Forefront of Computing Representatives of the games industry have emphasised the role of games in the evolution of computing. Non-keyboard interfaces, immersive alternative realities and anthropomorphic characters were introduced by games (Bushnell, 1996). Games demonstrate how computer software can be designed to be highly usable and enjoyable. According to this view, games lead the way into an information society where most people are ‘computer literate’.
Game ‘Classics’ The concept of ‘classic’ relates to a ‘standard of excellence’, which is referred to in discussions that compare, contextualise and make sense of different (artistic) phenomena. ‘Canon’ refers to a body of ‘great works’ that a civilised person is supposed to know. This textbook introduces a certain group of ‘classic games’ but many alternative ‘canons of digital games’ can be created.
Three Decades of Digital Games The focus is on three decades: 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. There is no agreement of the exact periods in games’ historiography. The ‘golden age of video games’ can, in different sources, refer to e.g. the years 1978–1981, 1978–1985, 1971–1983 or 1971–1984. The early period is generally seen as more influential, original and important for game development than the years from late-1980s onwards.
Games in the Information Society Several thinkers have written about transition into an ‘information society’, where the main emphasis is on knowledge and information in various forms. The instability of the games industry has displayed the risks of an information economy. History includes the video game crash of 1977, then 1983, and the ‘dot-com crash’ of 2000-2002. Despite this, the trend appears to be moving towards ‘experience economy’ or ‘media society’.
1970s: Learning the Lexicon The 1970s introduced the first video games, both in arcades and into homes. 1970s’ digital games can appear primitive by modern standards. The earliest digital games relied on experiences people had from other games. Growing gradually more complex, the early games introduced players with the evolving ‘grammar and lexicon’ (sets of key conventions) of gaming.
PONG (1972): Popular and Simple Image credits: Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pong.png Watch video of original arcade PONG gameplay: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LPkUvfL8T1I&NR=1 Play a simple, single-player version of PONG: http://www.corporatedump.com/oldpong.html More PONG remakes: http://www.pong-story.com/pcpong.htm
History of Gaming Devices The physical and electronic characteristics of gaming devices matter considerably for most gamers. The earliest digital games were often created with ‘mainframe’ computers in research laboratories and universities. Four main routes of mainstream game evolution: arcade gaming consoles (‘arcade video games’) home video game consoles (‘video games’) home computers (‘computer games’) handheld consoles (‘electronic games’).
There have been many kinds of special controllers developed for digital play. Sometimes a good controller has provided a particular system with the necessary competitive edge. Evolution of Controllers Above Atari VSC/Atari 2600 (1977); below, Nintendo Famicom/NES (1983) Image credits: Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org
Shooter Game: Space Invaders (1978) Shooting galleries were popular as fairground attractions. Different kinds of digital ‘shooters’ have become one of the most popular kinds of action games. Space Invaders by Japanese Taito appeared as a “mixture between pinball and a Marvel comic”. (Sellers, 2001) Introduced ‘high score’ which contributed to the social playability of the game. Image credits: The International Arcade Museum, www.klov.com; The History of Computing Project, www.thocp.net
Establishing Game Genres Simultaneous navigation and shooting is a test of accuracy and hand-eye coordination skills. This style of core gameplay was one of the earliest conventions to become established in digital games. Game genres were based on groups of conventions related to e.g. interaction available for the players and to the game screen elements (the ‘interface’) and game controllers. Important for the grammar and syntax of digital games (gameplay lexicon) to develop further.
List of Best-Selling Games The 20 best-selling console/handheld games, not originally bundled. 1. Wii Play (Wii – 26.71 million) 2. Wii Fit (Wii – 22.56 million) 3. Nintendogs (DS – 22.27 million, all five versions combined) 4. New Super Mario Bros. (DS – 21.39 million) 5. Mario Kart Wii (Wii – 21.22 million) 6. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green (Game Boy – 20.08 million approximately: 10.23 million in Japan, 9.85 million in US) 7. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (DS – 18.59 million) 8. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES – 18 million) 9. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS – 17.39 million) 10. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2 - 17.33 million) 11. Mario Kart DS (DS – 17.28 million) 12. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2 – 14.89 million shipped) 13. Pokémon Gold and Silver (Game Boy Color – 14.51 million approximately: 7.6 million in US, 6.91 million in Japan) 14. Super Mario Land (Game Boy – 14 million) 15. Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (DS – 13.71 million) 16. Wii Sports Resort (Wii – 13.58 million) 17. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (GBA – 13 million) 18. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (GBA – 11.82 million) 19. Super Mario 64 (N64 – 11 million) Gran Turismo (PS1 – 10.85 million shipped) Source: www.wikipedia.org
Game Design Emma Westecott Assistant Professor: Game Design, OCAD email@example.com
Tracy Fullerton’s game design elements Formal Dramatic Dynamic
Formal game elements The formal elements are the underlying system and mechanics of the game. Your initial concept might include some formal elements but as you move forward you need to fill in that system more and more. These are some questions to ask yourself: What is the conflict in my game? What are the rules and procedures? What actions do the players take and when? Are there turns? How do they work? How many players can play? How long does the game take to resolve?
Formal game elements To flesh out the game structure consider the following: Define each player’s goal What does a player need to do to win? Write down the single most important type of player action in the game Describe how this functions Write down the procedures and rules in outline format Only focus on the most critical rules Leave all other rules until later Map out how a typical turn works. Using a flowchart is the most effective way to do this. Define how many players can play How do these players interact with one another?
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Direction (leading and directing player experience) Focal point (provide primary focus through clear lines of sight, defined plot points & objectives) Anticipation (signify that something is about to happen) Announce change (communicate changes, especially if rare)
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Behaviour Believable events and behaviour must occur according to the logic and expectations of the player Overlapping events and behaviour (discover the right amount of events to occur at any given moment of time) Physics (keep in mind gravity, weight, mass, density, etc. don’t be limited by it) Sound
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Progression Pacing (keep in mind a desired sense of urgency, the rate in which events occur, the level of concentration required and how often events are being repeated. Spread out the moments of high concentration.)
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Environment Spacing (understand how much space is available on screen and in world, recognise the spatial relationship between elements)
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Method Linear design vs component breakdown
Matt Allmer’s 13 Basic Principles (Gamasutra) Foundation Player Communication Appeal