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Computer Games

Kelly Hanlon, Tim Lopes,

Jeff Peterson, Daniel Gallant

University of Phoenix

CIS 319

Clay Fielding

December 1 2004


Computer games in the information systems industry account for over seven billion dollars in sales in 2003 and are a pivotal component in driving both the software and hardware portions of the industry. (Entertainment Software Association, 2003). Computer games are quickly taking a chuck of total dollars in the entertainment industry and some say will emerge with Hollywood to create a more interactive entertaining experience for the consumer. In this paper we will be discussion some brief history of games, how they are currently being developed in regards to software, where games are heading in the future, and how they currently are being used today in other aspects of life.

A History of Games

The beginning

According to many sources, the idea of the video game came about between 1949 and 1951, from a man named Ralph Baer. Baer was television engineer at Loral. His chief engineer asked him to "build the best television set in the world." A simple task for Baer, he decided to make it a challenge and add the ability to play games to the television set. Unfortunately, his chief engineer did not like this idea, and the project was scrapped. The earliest known completed video game was created by A. S. Douglas, a PhD student at Cambridge, in 1952. It was a Tic-Tac-Toe game titled "Naughts and Crosses" written for the EDSAC computer. Six years later, William Higinbotham and Robert Dvorak from Brookhaven National Laboratories created "Tennis For Two." Unlike Pong, this game was viewed from the side. The ball physics were very good for its time, accurately simulating the effects of gravity. In 1962, MIT student Steve Russel created Spacewar! for PDP-1 mainframes, and was the first game distributed over ARPAnet. Baer resumed his project in 1966, and created a game system that had several games in it, including various ball and paddle games, a chase game, and what appears to be the first light gun game. Baer showed many TV manufacturers his prototype, and Magnavox took a liking to it, releasing the first machine in 1972 under the name Odyssey. At the same time, Atari released the arcade version of Pong, and an arcade version of Spacewar! called Computer Space a year earlier.

The Arcades

Pong became a very popular game. Atari's prototype generated so much money in its first few weeks the coin counter would jam because the bucket was too full. Kee Games created the first game to use ROM chips to store graphics, level, and program data, called Tank. This game also became very popular, so much that Atari decided to merge with Kee Games. In the next few years, many companies release 110 games, but most were unremarkable pong clones. Meanwhile, in Japan, a struggling Pachinko manufacturer known as Taito catches wind of the popularity of arcade games and creates Space Invaders. This quickly becomes insanely popular in Japan, to the degree of causing coin shortages. Midway, an American distributor soon acquires the license to distribute Space Invaders in the US, and almost overnight shop owners were setting up all Space Invaders arcades. Soon after, Merry-go-Round manufacturer Namco decides to buy out the Japanese Atari subsidiary and create the first true color game Galaxian. All games before this just used colored cellophane glued to the monitor to give the illusion of color.

Home Gaming

It all began with the Odyssey in 1972 with its simple ball and paddle games. Several similar units made by various companies, including Atari, soon follow. The first home system with interchangeable cartridges arrives in 1976, the Fairchild Channel F. The next year, Atari releases the Atari 2600. Early on, the system never caught on, until 1980, when the Space Invaders license was obtained. With the release of that, sales grew astronomically. Atari, however, poorly paid their programmers, to the point where the many left Atari and formed Activision. Activision was responsible for some of the greatest games ever seen on the 2600. Because of Atari's poor treatment of its programmers, many rushed games were released for the system, including a terrible port of Pac-Man, and the infamously horrible E.T. Soon after, Coleco created Colecovision, with some very nice arcade ports, and eventually an adapter which could play Atari 2600 games. With this, it became the machine with the largest library of games, and its sales beat out Atari's new 5200. However, there is still the problem of all of the new poorly made Atari games out there, and consumers are rapidly losing faith in home gaming, causing a crash in the home gaming market. Around the same time in Japan, A playing card manufacturer known as Nintendo creates a home gaming console called Famicom, and along with its release are very accurate home versions of all of Nintendo's arcade games at the time. It sells very well and Nintendo decides to release it in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System, where the gaming market is failing.

Computer Gaming

Adventure was the first text-based adventure games written. It was made using FORTRAN by Willie Crowther for the PDP-1 in 1972. It, like Spacewar!, was distributed over ARPAnet and became very popular among university students. The game was expanded upon by Don Woods, incorporating Dungeons and Dragons elements into it. MIT Students Dave Lebling, Tim Adnerson, Bruce Daniels, and Marc Blank discovered the game, and used their programming knowledge to start the widely popular Zork series in 1977. The original Zork became incredibly popular across ARPAnet, and tons of user suggestions poured in. As they were added, the game reached one megabyte in 1981, which was the upper limit for software running on the mainframe. During this time, the microcomputer was born, and slowly spread into people's homes. Since many of these home computers used different microprocessors, porting Zork to each computer would become a monstrous task, so the Zork team decided to create the first virtual machine. Zork was ported to a non-existent processor, and interpreters for this processor were created for each platform Zork was to run on. Soon more problems became evident. Most home computers at the time



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