Video games have come a long way. What was once just a toy is now a billion dollar industry capable of expressing ideas in a way that no other media is capable of. In the last 40 years, we’ve gone from four colors and a handful of sound effects to Hollywood-level masterpieces with scripts that would make Martin Scorsese do a double take.
Looking back over gaming’s history, there are several modern staples that would have been hard to predict. Remember when you had to buy an expensive add-on for your Intellivision if you wanted the luxury of audible voices in your video games? And even then they were synthesized voices that bore only a slight resemblance to a human being.
Back in the early 90′s, I distinctly remember wishing that my local FuncoLand had a list of the NES titles that utilized battery-powered save states. In most cases even the ability to enter a continuation code was an impressive feature.
Today if you’re playing a AAA title like Call Of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, a sequel will probably be on the shelves within a year, but we used to wonder if Nintendo and Sega would ever make sequels to Super Mario Bros. or Sonic The Hedgehog. Those days were rough.
When purchasing a DOS game in the early years of home computing, you had to cross your fingers and hope that the developers did their best. Unlike today they couldn’t just rush a title to the market and fix unplanned problems with patches. There were no reliable delivery system, so customers would have to write letters to the developer or find a dial-up bulletin board to see if other players had the same problem. And if there was a fix, patching was ugly.
Today, if a game has a major issue on launch day, a simple hotfix is typically available.
I’m not trying to tell the young whippersnappers to get off my lawn, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and remember how far we’ve come. It reminds us that anything can happen in the future.