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Leicester, United Kingdom
Studying BA (Hons) Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It continues to be challenging as much as rewarding. Primary outcomes include 2D and 3D projects and 2am coffees.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

1980's-1990's: The Middle ages

As the golden age of video games emerged in the 80’s, the game cartridges that were released at the time introduced and defined the numerous genres that we know today. Ranging from action to motor racing, and from strategy to adventure, this large variety allowed consumers to decide and pursue which types of games were to their liking. This was supported in this period by huge advances in computer hardware and software developments – and the people who worked with them.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the 80's, the first versions of handheld consoles were released, Among them were Microvision and Game and Watch, the latter having a similar look and feel as the Nintendo DS, which played edited versions of arcade games. Microvision’s time on the market however, did not last as long as hoped with several reasons for this demise: they only produced a very limited range of games for it and also several years later the Video Game crash of '83 occurred. This Crash not only put the gaming industry on standby, but it also bankrupted several Northern American companies. Atari 2600 was believed to be the cause since they produced poorly designed games during this period, and ended up manufacturing more than were being sold. They were thought to have even gone as far as burying unsold games cartridges in a New Mexico Landfill.....

The start of something big

Then in 1985, Nintendo was back in the fray when they released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and one of the first games to come with the console was Super Mario Bros. which became a great success in both Japan and the West. The NES was the most significant console in the third generation of consoles and used joysticks and keypads as well as having more than two action buttons available for use. In addition, this generation of consoles brought about a change in game-play. Prior to this many games involved flip screen graphics, but were now replaced by scrolling graphics which was seen as a great development.

At the beginning of the 90's, the arcade games began to steadily decline and become less popular as they had been. This was due to 3D graphics taking over the market, and had been made possible by the increase in computer power (processor and storage) and the decreasing costs to produce them. It also paved the way for first person shooter (FPS) and real-time strategy (RTS) games, which were introduced several years later.

RTS games not only harnessed the capabilities of the PC, but also brought about a new perspective in gameplay, controlling units and constructs using gathered in-game resources. Major gameplay plots generally involved settlement building and construction and management simulations, followed by defending your new creations from incoming attacks or maintaining their stability. It was here that the MMORGP World of Warcraft settled its roots with the launch of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Along with Command and Conquer and Starcraft, these RTS allowed players control over military and economic aspects in game from a birds eye view of the area combined with selection menus.

This was also the time when the rivalry between Nintendo and SEGA began. It was in 1991 that Sonic the Hedgehog was released and its namesake became the mascot for SEGA as Mario had become that for Nintendo.

FPS was introduced in 1992 by Wolfenstien 3D, which was a huge success and set the foundations for the genre; the same pace and quick reflexes required from arcade games to fight off waves of enemies. However FPS was redefined with the release of Doom, which included additional textures and lighting to make it one of the most important FPS games of all time. This is also due to the fact that it introduced multiplayer gaming as a feature.

As the 90's drew to a close, the Nintendo team who had produced the Game and Watch produced the GameBoy, which succeeded where the earlier Microvsion had failed. Whilst other companies released their own versions of hand held consoles such as the Atari Lynx and the SEGA Super Gear, the GameBoy remained at the top of the revenue earners. In 1998 the GameBoy Colour was released and gave players an upgrade path, allowing them to still play their original GameBoy games. This strategy gave Nintendo an edge at the time and was an example to the game industry of the importance of compatibility.

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