Computer technology is directly related to the evolution of video games. Neither environment nor time had such an impact on the creation of new capabilities of electronic machines and data processing systems, as simple games and simulations that were developed in an academic environment (sometimes even by accident). Requiring new capacities and approaches, computer games have become one of the engines of progress in the entire computer industry. Grigori Bakunin, Director of Technology Dissemination at Yandex, told Sirius schoolchildren about how the fun was created, with which it was possible to pass the time at the smartest car in the world. Let’s talk about some of them.
Spaceward the result of amateur work
In 1962, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, several programmers who were fond of science fiction, in their free time, created the world’s first prototype of a computer game, Spacebar!, on one of the mainframes. In fact, it was a battle map – a fragment of the night sky. The gameplay is banally simple: two opponents, using the keyboard or a joystick, moved their shuttles and fought to defeat. The ultra-modern space arcade for those times was created for the PDP-1. Its processor performed only 100 thousand operations per second, and the RAM was about 9 kilobytes. The game used an analog computer and a vector display of an oscilloscope connected to it – a device for studying the amplitude and time parameters of an electrical signal.
Zorch: a veritable piece of interactive literature
Another legend game from the 1970s is Infolog’s Zorch text-based adventure game. It does not need any pictures or graphics – everything was drawn by the imagination. The gameplay looked like this: a text was displayed on the screen describing the surrounding space and the position of the game character in it, and the player – an unnamed adventurer – entered commands from the keyboard and passed the tests. As opponents – trolls, kobolds and other monsters.
There were no generally accepted concepts of a genre for games at the time, of course, and the authors of Zorch intricately called it “a computerized fantasy simulation.” By the way, it was Zorch, distinguished by the quality of descriptions and script outstanding for its time, that became the standard for subsequent games of the genre, and also determined the format in which such games were distributed.
Tetris: conceived as a computer AI puzzle
If you type the word “Tetris” into a search engine, the first information that the query will give out will be that the game was first written by Alexei Pajitnov, a programmer and employee of the Computing Center at the USSR Academy of Sciences, in 1984 on an Elektronika-60 computer. This is how the prototype of Tetris turned out. The most recognizable game has spread around the world quickly – during its existence, it has sold about half a billion copies.
SimCity: the first city building simulator
SimCity is the first game to bring adults to gaming monitors and spawned a series of city-building simulators that allow you to understand the basics of urbanism – managing assets and building urban infrastructure. Developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was recognized as a new phenomenon in the gaming industry. The main principle of the game is that you cannot win or lose in it: the whole point is in the process itself.
The game was originally released for Commodore Amiga and Macintosh computers and later ported to various gaming platforms. The new part of the game was always separated from the previous one by a solid period of several years: the developers explained this by the fact that there was not enough technology to implement all the ideas – the game required a very powerful computer with a special processor.
Quake: the 3D action movie that changed the gaming industry
The release date of the world’s first “volumetric” game – July 1996. At that time, it was a real hit: it was thanks to Quake that the concepts of sport’s (team or individual competition based on video games) and speedup (high-speed passage of the game in the shortest period of time) appeared, and the first cybersport league, Cyberathlete Professional League, was created, and major gaming championships.
And although the plot of the game itself was primitive, it was compensated by dynamic gameplay, a large arsenal of weapons and monsters. What’s more, Quake has revolutionized the graphics, for the first time using textured polygons instead of the usual sprites (a graphical object in computer graphics).