We’ve been playing video games for over 3 decades here at Mega Dads and quite a bit has changed in that time. So we’re introducing a new regular feature that takes a look at how gaming has evolved from those early beginnings to the modern marvels that we play today. When I Was Your Age will be a nostalgic look back for gamers like us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and an eye opening education to those who cut their teeth in the Playstation and Xbox eras. We hope you enjoy!
The Atari 2600 was released on September 11th 1977 and 27 days after that I was born. It was the first gaming console that I ever played and introduced me to the hobby that would keep me entertained for going on forty years. I played games like Adventure, Night Driver, Space Invaders and Breakout. Video games were still in their infancy but these early games were able to blow my tiny mind with the worlds that they created. We were also able to play games that transported us into some of our favorite movies of the time. I remember playing The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T., amazed at being able to relive famous scenes from those movies in our living room. I could never have imagined the incredible leaps and bounds that visuals in gaming would take in the coming years.
One of the things that is so interesting and unique looking back at that era of gaming is that you really had to meet game developers halfway to become fully engrossed in those worlds. We’re talking about incredibly simple graphics that required you to use your imagination to see what they were trying to show you. Many times the player that I was controlling was a simple square moving around the screen. But like reading a book, you would need to visualize in your mind what those blocks represented. It may have looked like a somewhat rectangular lump of pixels on the screen, but to me it was a snowspeeder racing across the planet Hoth trying to take down an AT-AT.
Midway through the 1980’s Nintendo released the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)and graphics began to advance substantially. Objects in games were actually beginning to look like what they were supposed to be! Games like Final Fantasy, Castlevania and The Legend of Zelda were creating new and amazing worlds to explore that were colorful and detailed. While they may be considered pretty primitive by today’s standards, in 1985 it was a huge leap. The NES not only moved the needle forward in regards to graphical capability, but it also revitalized the entire gaming industry becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
By the time the 90’s arrived we had entered the 16 bit era with the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Now we were beginning to see the beginnings of the 3D era of gaming with things like Mode 7 and the Super FX chip (used in Star Fox). Video games were entering a graphical arms race with Nintendo, Sega and eventually Sony trying to outdo each other with what their machines could accomplish. It’s hard to believe that only 9 years separate the releases of the NES and Playstation when you look at how far graphics advanced in that span of time.
While video games today are bringing games to life like we never dreamed possible, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the days when they relied more on our imaginations to complete the experience. Nowadays there is literally nothing that game developers are unable to create. Graphics have come so far that I don’t know if kids today will ever be able to feel the wonder that I felt as I experienced the leaps and bounds from generation to generation. Watching as the simple 8 bit adventures that I grew up on give way to amazing open worlds with miles and miles of mysteries to discover. Or it’s possible that I just don’t see what that next big leap will be. As we approach the dawn of the VR era of gaming, maybe that will be the next thing to change the way in which we see gaming.
Only time will tell.
If you have a topic you’d like to see us discuss in our new series, let us know in the comments!