how the gaming industry has evolved

“Fanied on Fur, flew to b to pack a desolator, 150 coins were missing, I decided to ult in order to quickly farm golds. And so I ulted and caught a double kill))) One-shot morphs and Magnus rip.

If you understand at least half of this phrase, then the world of computer games has not bypassed you. You may have spent more than one sleepless night watching Sid Meier’s Civilization, or instead of classes at the university, you hung out in computer clubs in your city. Surprisingly, many people are unable to imagine their life without video games, and if they did not play them themselves, then a friend, neighbor or classmate was sure to be an avid gamer.

Adventure games, shooters, strategies and quests – it seems as if they have always existed. But even 50 years ago, there was not even a hint of the imminent flowering of the giant video game and esports industry. And, perhaps, the latest history of mankind would have turned in a different direction if exactly half a century ago on this day, Magnavox had not introduced the world’s first commercial home game console, the Magnavox Odyssey.

In 1938, the Dutch historian and culturologist Johan Huizinga published the classic treatise Homo ludens, a fundamental study devoted to the analysis of the phenomenon of play and its role in the evolution of human civilization. In his work, Huizinga came to the conclusion that the game as a phenomenon is much older than any human culture, because it is still observed in animals, and culture itself is always born from the game and has a game character. Johan could not have imagined that in just 34 years after the publication of his treatise, in the multi-thousand-year measured and unhurried history of the game, a series of events would occur that would elevate the game to an absolute.

In the same 1938, the development of the German engineer Konrad Zuse was born – an experimental model Z1 – a completely mechanical prototype of a programmable machine, on the basis of which the Z3 mechanism was developed in 1941, which had all the properties of a modern computer.

Reconstruction of the prototype Z1 from the Deutsches Museum, photo source: dcmlr.inf.fu-berlin.de
Reconstruction of the prototype Z1 from the Deutsches Museum, photo source: dcmlr.inf.fu-berlin.de

Video reconstruction of Z1

Today, the Z3 is considered by many to be the first actually working programmable computer, although the main difference from Zuse’s first Z1 machine (1938) was the ability to calculate the square root.

Restored prototype Z3 in the Munich Museum, photo source heise.de
Restored prototype Z3 in the Munich Museum, photo source heise.de

In 1944, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern would first record the mathematical aspects and applications of game theory in the book Game Theory and Economic Behavior. Inspired by this work, John Nash in 1949 defended his thesis on game theory, for which he would later receive the Nobel Prize (in economics) and the Abel Prize.

Few gamers think about it, but the vast majority of economic strategies and any other games somehow use the developments of Nash, Neumann and Morgenstern. For example, to create the illusion of intelligence in the behavior of computer-controlled characters, which we now call bots or NPCs. We can say that this trio created bots even before it became mainstream.

With the advent of the mathematical apparatus, the development of computer technology proceeded exponentially. Numerous inventions served as the basis for the miniaturization and increase in the efficiency of computers, and in such a rapid development of computer technology, calculations on this very technique played a significant role.

In the 1950s, primitive computer games were first created – and this was so relevant that many developments immediately became part of dissertations and theses.

Early examples of video games are the first software game OXO (tic-tac-toe), Tennis for Two and spacewar!. The very term “video games” for games of this time is applicable only with some stretch, because they were not created as interactive programs and were not developed as games. In addition, they could not be called popular and massive, since they were not replicated and often existed only locally in a single copy directly in the organization where they were created. This situation was explained by the fact that the computers of the 50s and 60s occupied large rooms, used radio tubes, which required cooling and constant maintenance. One of the revolutions in computer games was the transition to a transistor element base.

In parallel, in the 1930s-1950s and later, the evolution and popularity of electrified pinball machines grew rapidly – bar arcade slot machines in which the player scored game points by manipulating metal balls on a glass-covered playing field using paws (flippers). The pinball theme was so popular that a computer variant of it called “Space Cadet” came with several versions of the Windows operating system in a row. You must have played it in computer science class. Remember your record?

National Pinball Museum, photo source nytimes.com
National Pinball Museum, photo source nytimes.com

Former CNN producer Steven Baxter describes the role of such slot machines in shaping the computer gaming industry as follows:

“You can’t say that video games grew out of pinball, but you can assume that video games couldn’t have come into existence without it. It’s like bicycles and cars. One industry leads to the fact that another appears, and then they coexist together. But you’ll have to reinvent the wheel first so that cars can come later.”

Obviously, it was only a matter of a very short time before someone tried to commercialize computer games by transferring the well-known game mechanics of a ball or ball game into an all-electronic device that works in conjunction with a television. The first such device was the Odyssey prefix.

It is noteworthy that although the first commercially available central processor intel 4004 was developed back in 1969, the stuffing of the set-top box still consisted of separate transistors, resistors and capacitors. And all subsequent models of game consoles were already assembled on the basis of integrated circuits.

Computer games as a separate art form

Since then, the gaming industry has come a long way, both technologically and economically and even culturally. Offshoots emerged such as the demoscene, a cyberculture that emerged in the late 1970s with the proliferation of the first home computers. This is a direction of computer creativity, the main feature of which is the construction of a plot video sequence. It is created in real time on the principle of computer games and at the limit of the technological capabilities of the equipment. Moreover, the phenomenon developed so rapidly that in 2011 the United States, and then many other countries of the world, officially recognized computer games as a separate art form.

An example of demoscene creativity

The size of the market is now measured in tens of billions of dollars, more than half of the population of the planet Earth plays certain computer games, and the processing power of central processors, according to Moore’s law, has increased by more than 30 million times. At the same time, the games themselves have become colorful, sophisticated and demanding on hardware. By the way, it was the commercial success of computer and game consoles that became one of the spurring factors for increasing the processing power of processors.

Photo source: gamesisart.ru
Photo source: gamesisart.ru

Game consoles are usually divided into generations according to the time of release and technological capabilities. There are nine in total so far. Interestingly, by the time the third generation of game consoles was released (circa 1983), personal computers began to gradually present competition as a gaming platform. At the same time, a holy war (holy war) gradually began to flare up among the players, which is better to play on – on the console or PC.

The advantage of the PC was the freedom to choose components and the ability to play pirated games, while the disadvantage was the need for the player to independently understand and configure the software and hardware of the computer. And because of the extreme variety of combinations, this often became a non-trivial task.

Consoles, on the other hand, were beneficial to copyright holders and game developers, as they influenced the fight against piracy of computer games and simplified their development, and players were relieved of the need to configure anything themselves before launching the game. The main disadvantage of the consoles was the need to purchase an additional non-universal expensive device exclusively for games in addition to the already existing home PC. Disputes about what to play after all have not subsided for decades.

The era of cloud gaming

The sword that will finally cut the Gordian knot between console enthusiasts and PC gamers may be cloud gaming. Graphics-demanding games run on powerful remote servers with the latest graphics cards and processors, and then streamed in HD quality to your TV or monitor. For broadcasting, a technology similar to video streaming is used. It is optimized so that no frames drop out of the video stream during broadcasting. This ensures a comfortable gaming experience.

This is achieved by combining the advantages of PC gaming and the console in one service. When playing through the cloud, the purchase of an expensive device to enjoy the latest games is no longer required, and since the games run on pre-configured remote servers, the player no longer needs to worry about performance and spend time and nerves on settings and selection of drivers.

In this endless confrontation, cloud gaming turned out to be the closest thing to us, and we implemented this service under the SberPlay brand. To play it, you need to buy one of the smart devices from Sberbank or a smart TV with the Salyut TV system, and also have a fast Internet connection.

The simplest and most convenient solution is a miniature SberBox, but if the gaming location does not have a fast router with Wi-Fi support at a frequency of 5 GHz, then it is better to stop at the slightly less compact SberBox Top or SberBox Time – they support a wired connection via Ethernet. Of course, games that are undemanding to the reaction speed can be quite enjoyed on old 2.4 GHz routers, the main thing to remember is that it is the 5 GHz range that is the key to playing without brakes.

In terms of game modes, gamers are not limited by anything and can have fun in both single and online team and multiplayer battles. Including shake the old days in hot-seat and split-screen mode, or measure your strength in classic versus fighting games like Mortal Kombat.

If there is no joystick, but you still really want to “hack yourself” into an arcade or a fighting game, you can use a regular smartphone. You need to install a special mobile application and use a virtual gamepad, mouse or keyboard. For more precise control in games, we recommend using the on-screen mini-joysticks that come with the console. With them, the movements will be clearer, and the control is more convenient – close in quality to a real joystick.

We checked the game with two and four, and all the rinks went like clockwork. In this case, you can try to connect more than four devices at the same time, but we still do not guarantee stable operation in this scenario.

We hope that in the comments you will share with us the names of your favorite computer games for a large company, as well as stories about the legendary lan-parties of the past, do you remember what it is? But once upon a time, participants had to drag bulky system units and whole monitors to such events 🙂 That was still a pleasure …

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