Video games and their Evolution (From 0s and 1s to a new kind of art)
By Dante, HRKGame
Back in the old days, way back in 1972, we got our very first video game. Pong, an extremely simple title that took the world by storm as a brand new form of entertainment. To be precise, it was the first form of digital entertainment where the user could control the actions that happened on the screen. Not long after that, the very first at-home console got released. The Atari 2600 arrived in 1977, and it sold 27,640,000 units. 1978 and 1979 saw the releases of Space Invaders and Asteroids, both insanely popular video games. The world was now hooked on the concept of video games, a fresh and exciting way to pass the time and have fun with your friends over a couple of beers and some snacks.
But, video games have evolved, as did the devices that we play them on. From arcade machines to at-home consoles, to personal computers, handheld devices, and so on, games constantly improved their visual, audio, gameplay, and thematic aspects. From incredibly simple titles like the classic Super Mario Bros to breathtaking titles of today (there are too many to count, but Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a fine example), the growth of this form of entertainment was staggering, to say the least. They are now a medium for an extraordinary kind of entertainment that possesses visual, audio, and interactive elements that blend seamlessly into something special for us to enjoy. Video games are an art form of their kind, one that is beloved by a countless number of people today. So, how do game developers today create these works of art, and how did they evolve over the years as people and the world changed? Well, making a game isn’t as simple as it was back in 1972. The whole process revolves around much more than 0s and 1s, and some titles today cost an entire fortune to make. A multiplatform game today can cost from 18 to 28 million dollars to make, while some higher quality ones can cost up to 40 million. Quite a large sum of money gets invested into making games, so these titles need to sell exceptionally well for the developers and publishers to break even and profit. While back in the day, one man could deal with both programming and graphical and sound design, these days you have huge teams of people working extremely hard to create a compelling and fun experience that will be loved by masses all over the world. Let’s not even get into the whole commercial side of things that are connected to marketing and those sorts of things.
But why would anyone call games, “art” exactly? Because, unlike what a lot of people say these days and age, video games aren’t meant to be enjoyed by just children, They are incredible and impactful pieces of entertainment that can seriously stagger a person with their complexity (be that intricate gameplay, breathtaking visuals, enthralling sound design, well-crafted characters, a believable world, and so on). Then you have games that put all of the above or most of it into one title. That’s hard to do, but certain developers manage to pull it off, and so we have gems like: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, God of War, Portal 2, The Last of Us, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Red Dead, Redemption, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Gran Turismo, Half-Life, Tekken 3, and so on. And while all of these games didn’t have ALL of the elements that were just listed, the elements that were implemented were done so masterfully that these titles are all considered classics today. A work of art is intended to be appreciated for its beauty and emotional power, for its capability of leaving a strong impression on a person.
While there isn’t a lot of new games today that can be considered “works of art”, there are still some that are made with such passion, exceptional ideas, and honed skills that the result is an experience that will leave a lasting impression on the player. Some games can even affect the way you think and make you question certain things. If that doesn’t sound like art to you, then I don’t know what does.
About the author:
Dante, senior editor on HRKGame’s Newsroom.
HRK Game is an e-commerce and technology business that sells video games and software.
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