Gaming has always been pushing the boundaries of technology. Back in the 1960s, the first-ever video game was designed to show off the capabilities of early computers. Then by the 1970s and 1980s, arcade machines were continually being made more powerful so that developers could make bigger and more engaging games.
Outside of hobbyists who just enjoyed tinkering with early home computers and business users that needed them for work, most people bought the earliest PCs to use for gaming. Eventually, companies like Nintendo and Atari realized that there was scope to make dedicated gaming machines, leading to consoles like the NES and the Atari 2600.
Ever since, technology has been changing the way we develop, buy, and play games.
It seems like a long time ago that TVs were as deep as they were wide, but in reality, those big and bulky cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets were still the norms a little over 10 years ago.
Of course, today, the newest televisions are almost wafer-thin, giving us the ability to hang them on walls or stack them on top of small tables. That is perhaps the most noticeable effect that LCD screens have had on our lives, but actually, life (and gaming) would be very different without them.
Your smartphone, tablet, or portable games console wouldn’t exist without LCD displays as there would be no way to make them small enough to carry around. Therefore, without the development of liquid crystal technology, mobile gaming would not exist.
Every website that you view through your web browser is coded using a language called HTML. Using a set of tags, web designers can tell your computer what to display on the screen. HTML has evolved over the years, though, from a static set of instructions to support media like video and games natively.
HTML5 was officially recommended by the W3C in 2014, though many web designers were already using it before that. It was a major step up from HTML 4.01 because it removed the need for third-party plugins like Adobe Flash.
This made it easier for gaming sites to offer their content to a wider audience, including those on mobile devices that didn’t support Flash. Sites like MiniClip have not been using Flash for their new games for the best part of a decade now, with popular examples of their HTML5 games, including 8 Ball Pool and Football Strike. Similarly, online casinos now offer their popular online slot games like Age of Gods and Imperial Kitchen through web browsers in some regions, taking advantage of HTML5 to do so.
If you’re old enough to have lived through the 1980s, you’ll likely remember the video format wars. This was a period of time when JVC’s VHS and Sony’s Betamax were pitted against each other to see which would become the dominant format. VHS ultimately won and would remain the main way of watching content at home until DVDs took over in the early 2000s.
Then came the next format war, a competition between Sony’s Blu-Ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD format. Sony bundled its Blu-Ray drives into the PlayStation 3, helping to get it out to more homes and ultimately beat the rival format.
Blu-Ray has since appeared in every console made by both Sony and Microsoft. This is because the larger-capacity discs are needed to fit bigger games. For example, a DVD can fit 4GB, while a Blu-Ray disc can store up to 50GB, which most developers now take full advantage of.
Now, of course, Blu-Rays have mostly been replaced by digital downloads as many of the latest generations of games exceed even the 50GB of capacity they have. But digital distribution isn’t the only way gaming has been changed by the internet.
Today, many titles are made either with online-only multiplayer modes or, at least, focus heavily on this functionality. This lets players compete against (or co-op play with) their friends or strangers.
This has also led to the creation of esports, an entirely new form of competition that uses video games as the field of battle instead of a football pitch or tennis court.