Video Games Life - History and Times of Gaming
For a relatively youthful industry, video gaming has had quite a rapid transformation over the years. How gamers play, on what devices, and what styles of games they play have all rapidly changed. So too have the players themselves, with gaming having grown from an industry for children, to mainstream entertainment.
Gaming began in earnest in the early 1970's with the release of the first home console systems, including the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari 2600. However, with gaming still in its infancy, and restricted technologically in what it could off the player, the industry quickly sagged and crashed under a glut of similar games. It was until the second generation of home consoles, and superior arcade machines that gaming started to showcase its true promise.
Arcades the Place to Game
With home consoles expensive, and arcade machines also superior technically, arcades were an extremely popular hangout throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. They also offered the first true bouts of multiplayer gaming, where gamers could team up or compete against their friends or even complete strangers manning the second set of controls. As home gaming became more complex however, with deeper and more rewarding experiences, arcades began to lose their appeal. They are now mostly a footnote in gaming's history, though arcades do still exist is some areas, and arcade machines can often be found in venues like amusement parks, bowling alleys, and movie theaters.
Alongside home console gaming was PC gaming, which offered different, often more cerebral games than what home consoles did. This created a divide among gamers, who often identified themselves as either console gamers, or computer gamers. Each group tended to consider themselves the "true" gamers, and typically shunned gamers and games of the other medium. Today that divide has mostly disappeared, as console and computer gaming are essentially the same, with each having taken some of the best bits of the other over the years and incorporating it into their games. Many games are also released across all platforms now, which was mostly unheard of in gaming's earlier years.
The Changing Demographics of Gaming
As gaming has grown up and matured alongside its initial fanbase, so too has the perception of gaming amongst the mainstream. Once considered an activity for children, gaming is now widely accepted as viable entertainment for people of all ages; and has the demographics to prove it. More than 50% of all gamers are now over the age of 18, and along with the shift in age, so too has come a shift in gender. Where gaming was once dominated by male players, females now game in equal numbers with their male counterparts.
Gaming has in fact become so popular that gaming concepts are being utilized in other industries to promote greater participation and stimulate the reward centers of the brain like gaming does. This process is called gamification, and is most commonly instituted in non-gaming applications in the form of rewards, similar to achievements in a game. Gamification is often highly effective at encouraging greater particpation in activities or programs by providing such gaming-style rewards, giving participants measurable targets to achieve, and a feeling of success and achievement as they meet them; the same feelings that make gaming as profoundly addictive and entertaining as it is.
The Future of Gaming
While gaming has come a long way in a short time, there are still plenty of potential innovations and advances to come. Motion gaming will continue to be refined, while developers will continue to explore new ways of controlling the action, with thought-based gaming being a distinct possibility in time. Virtual reality-based games are also set to become more popular with the release of the Oculus Rift and other VR headsets.