There was a time, just over half a century ago when gaming was considered to be a technological oddity. A marvellous invention, sure, but really nothing more than that. Fast forward a few decades, though, and video gaming would become a global phenomenon, with home consoles taking pride of place next to TVs across the globe.
In 2021, gaming stands as one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Major technological advances in recent years have completely revolutionised the industry, opening up the world of gaming to diverse demographics. Even Boomers know what Fortnite is, and four out of five US households are in possession of a gaming console.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look back at the past five decades of gaming, remembering those milestones along the way that have developed the industry into the behemoth that it is today.
The Arcade Era
Long before we could open up our favorite games on our smartphones, we had to travel all the way to the nearest gaming arcade to indulge in a round or two of Pong, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong.
From 1972 to 1983, arcade gaming was all the rage as gaming companies like Atari released franchise after franchise to keep gamers coming back for more. By 1982, arcade gaming had already become more profitable than the pop music industry and movie box office combined.
However, the rapid development of gaming technology meant that arcades would soon become a thing of the past as video games became increasingly more home-based.
Consoles are King
Just as arcade gaming machines were dying out, personal computers experienced quite the global uptake. Anyone who was anyone had a Commodore 64 in 1982. PCs wouldn’t enjoy the spotlight for too long, though, as just around the corner a Japanese gaming superpower was waiting to unleash the Next Big Thing.
Turns out that the next big thing would continue to prevail as a dominant form of gaming even here in the 21st century. And it all started when Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985.
The NES injected life into the console market and brought about iconic characters like Mario and Luigi. But, Nintendo wasn’t the only gaming giant to have its eyes on the prize. The late 80s and 1990s became known for being the era of console wars, as SEGA entered the fray with the Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear to rival the SNES and Game Boy.
Pretty soon, Sony was keen to get a piece of the console gaming action and released the PlayStation in 1994.
Gaming in a New Millennium
Gaming experienced the biggest shift in its development in the early 2000s, as an increased focus on computer processor technologies combined with the power of the internet caused the industry to progress at a rapid pace.
The internet didn’t just transform the way we play games, it also transformed the games themselves, giving rise to brand new gaming verticals. One such vertical to emerge in the online era was iGaming.
Although casino and poker simulation games were popular during the age of the console, since the 2010s, gamers have been able to participate in online roulette experiences as well as a whole host of other popular casino table and card games
Meanwhile, PC gaming clawed its way back to a top position in the industry thanks to the advent of the Massive Multiplayer Online genre, spearheaded by Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. At its peak, over 14 million gamers across the world had signed up to compete against each other.
A New Decade of Discovery
Since the early 2000s, gaming has developed at such a rapid rate that it seems every new release, whether that’s a game, console, or accessory blows the previous generations completely out of the water.
Gaming on the go is now a major trend and mobile gaming generates over $80 billion in revenue per year. Thanks to the release of next-gen beauties like the PS5, consoles are still booming and each new generation is powered by yet more technological advances and gaming capabilities.
If the transformation of gaming over the last few decades is anything to go by, gaming in 2029 is likely to be unrecognizable to how it is today. Manufacturers have only just begun to scratch the surface of the type of gaming experiences that can be created with advanced tech like VR and AR, and the pastime of gaming itself is now more popular than ever before.