The Dramatic Evolution of Gaming
Gaming's evolution can best be seen in the multitude of genres that have sprung up and gained popularity at times throughout its history, in some cases to fade just as quickly. In gaming's early years there wasn't much choice when it came to true genres; games were mostly one-dimensional and focused solely on one task, whether it was guiding Pac-Man through a maze of pellets, guiding Frogger past a series of cars, or guiding missiles to destroy enemy invaders.
By the Nintendo era, there were now several distinct genres, including sports games, RPG's, shooting games, and platformers. The majority of games from this era and the following one were platformers or side-scrolling action games, with games like Metroid, Castlevania, Mario, and Alex Kidd being popular titles. In the early 1990's, 2D fighting games became extremely popular thanks to Street Fighter 2, and fighting games offered gamers the first real chance at serious competitive action. Gamers busied themselves with learning and mastering the various complex combo moves of their chosen character(s).
When 3D gaming emerged in the mid-90's, the popular platformers of the day made the transition to the new added dimension, and those games remained the most popular of their time. Mario 64, Ape Escape, and Crash Bandicoot among others were good representations of this genre. Several other genres enjoyed short bursts of popularity during this time as well. RPG's were bouyed by the success of Final Fantasy 7, and RPG's like Breath of Fire 3 and 4, Suikoden 1 and 2, Tales of Destiny 1 and 2, and Wild Arms 1 and 2 all flooded the console market, particularly the PlayStation. Resident Evil also helped spur the survival horror genre and subsequent popular games like Silent Hill.
Car combat games also enjoyed relatively short-lived popularity during this era, courtesy games like Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8. On the PC meanwhile, real-time strategy games like Warcraft 2 and Command and Conquer were dominating the marketplace. Racing games have also enjoyed various ebbs and flows in terms of popularity, though they've consistently remained one of the top-selling genres.
In recent years, RPG's have been taken online in the form of MMORPG's, to greater popularity than their single-player counterparts, while the overwhelming success of Grand Theft Auto launched the genre of real-world sandbox games that would later be taken up by the likes of True Crime: Streets of LA, Saint's Row, and Mafia. FPS's have also proven extremely popular over the past decade and is the current market leader in terms of market share, with many of the most popular current franchises like Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Far Cry all being members of this genre.
Most recently, social and mobile gaming has brought gaming back to its roots in many ways, with recreations of popular genres of the past like side-scrolling shooters and platformers, as well as puzzle games and traditional RPG's being popular games on those platforms.