From 16 Bit to Today

Video game evolution through the years


Photo courtesy W. Eaton

Fortnite remains a popular video game among teens.

Andy Ratterree, Viking Voices Co-Editor

In 1958, physicist William Higinbotham created the first widely recognized video game called Tennis for Two. In the game, two players were able to bat a ball back and forth on a computer screen. Fascinated by this method of entertainment, Atari was founded in 1972 and dominated the video game industry for the next decade.

In 1978 a new video game company emerged out of Japan called Nintendo. Games with storylines and better graphics allowed Nintendo to make a name for itself and become a strong competitor in video games. Its most popular video game at the time was Super Mario Bros. The main characters, Mario and his brother Luigi, are on a mission to save Princess Peach from the evil Bowser.  The game ended up selling over 40 million copies. Most of the games in this era were primitive and their graphics were highly pixelated.

Seth Miller (10) likes to play Super Mario Bros. and has seen the improvement of graphic quality in his Mario video games.

“Video game graphics have become drastically more realistic the last few decades. You can see the difference between the graphics of the first Mario game and the latest Mario game,” Miller said.

In the 1990s, video games grew up and moved to a new dimension. Three dimensional or 3D games allowed players to move in three dimensions instead of two. This made game worlds more creative and realistic looking. In 1994, Sony released the PlayStation. It was a huge leap from gaming consoles that had previously been available. The quality of the graphics had grown steadily, and characters and worlds were now less blocky looking and more authentic.

Leap forward a decade and video games had been transported online. With artificial intelligence being added into these games, stimulated opponents began acting autonomously depending on what’s going on in game. For the first time in history open-world games were introduced. These games allowed players to explore worlds on their own instead of following a main quest. New powerful graphic technologies had grown rapidly and game quality now looked almost lifelike.

James Bright (11) doesn’t play many video games, but he has seen the progression of their graphic quality over the years.

“I don’t really play many video games anymore, but they have become a lot more realistic and clearer. My favorite graphics are probably from Call of Duty,” Bright said.

In the past decade, video games have turned to mobile devices. The quality and accessibility of these games made them easy to access and play. In addition to mobile devices, companies such as Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo have continued to improve their consoles and quality of play, making it easier than ever to pick up a control and play video games.

Danielle Tanner (10) loves playing hand-drawn video games and learning about the inner workings of those games.

“One of my favorite graphics from a video game would be from Don’t Starve Together. From the UI, surroundings, and characters, everything is tied together in a beautifully dark art style. A game is well done when everything besides the main game looks like it belongs,” Tanner said.