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The Evolution of Video Games

The Journey From 8-Bit to Virtual Reality

By Jasmine AguilarPublished 6 months ago 4 min read
The Evolution of Video Games
Photo by Sei on Unsplash

Technology has come such a long way in just a span of five years in a remarkable way and video games are no exception.

What is thought to be the first concept of video games was first created in research labs. Over the decades, they would eventually become the games we know today.

The First Video Game - Tennis for Two

A very simple tennis game is thought to be what we would today consider the very first video game. The game was called, Tennis for Two and it debuted in October of 1958. It was created by William Higinbotham, a nuclear physicist, and was played on an analog computer with a connected oscilloscope screen.

The angle of the tennis ball was adjusted by the simple turn of a knob. To hit the ball over the net and to your opponent, you just pressed a button. It was rather simple to play. The only way you could miss hitting the tennis ball was if you hit it at the wrong time or angle.

In comparison to today’s video games, the graphics for Tennis for Two were extremely simple and so much more to be desired.

The simple graphics of the game were made up of two lines. The first line stood for the ground while the second line stood for the net. The tennis ball was merely a dot that bounced back and forth across the screen.

However, the graphics were highly advanced and state of the art at that time. It was a huge breakthrough in science and technology.

The First Gaming Console

By Enrique Guzmán Egas on Unsplash

September 1972, Magnavox debuted the Odyssey — the very first gaming console. Magnavox’s Odyssey paved the way for other notable names in the gaming industry like Atari and Nintendo. While this was a huge milestone, the Odyssey was far too complicated in nearly every shape and form.


Atari was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney.

In 1977, Atari debuted the Atari Video Computer System. This gaming console would later be known as the Atari 2600. It was a huge improvement from Magnavox’s Odyssey.

Interesting Fact: The name Atari was inspired by a phrase used in a Chinese board game called Go. The phrase was “Atari” and it translated into “I’m about to win”. It's similar to saying “checkmate!” in chess.

Atari consisted of 500+ games including some you may or may not have heard of and played like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Some other memorable classic Atari games include Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede.

Space Invaders debuts in 1978

In 1982, the Atari 5200 console makes its debut. However, it wasn’t the greatest upgrade in the least. It had numerous design flaws and wasn’t compatible with the games from the Atari 2600.

The Rise of Nintendo

When you think of video gaming systems, there’s a highly likely chance that one of the most notorious gaming systems with some of the most well-known and well loved video games like Mario and Pokémon comes to mind.


However, Nintendo did not start out as a video game manufacturer but rather as one manufacturing a playing card game called “Hanafuda”. And this might surprise you greatly as it did me: Nintendo started as a trading card manufacturer in 1889 long before video games were even fathomed into existence.

Nintendo would come to be another game changer in video game history.

in 1981, Nintendo created the ever-popular Donkey Kong, a coin-operated video game. Donkey Kong paved the way for another all too familiar video game character — Mario.

1985 — Mario makes his debut in the Super Mario Bros. game.

Another notable game changer for Nintendo was the Game Boy.

The first portable handheld gaming system.

(VR) Virtual Reality - The Oculus

Flash forward to the video games of today. Virtual reality or VR is currently one of the most advanced concepts in gaming technology of our time.

The concept of the Oculus was introduced in 2012 and along with its debut, the Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers were first tested. However, since this was a new technology, it had a significant way to go before it became the virtual reality experience we know today.

March 2014

— Facebook acquires Oculus for $2.3 billion

March 2016

— Oculus debuts a version of the Rift headset made for consumer use. At its debut, the Rift had it all: Oculus Touch controllers, high-resolution screens, head tracking, and complete full room motion sensing. It gave the user the realistic experience that they were not in their living room but actually there in that gaming world.

In 2019, Facebook released the Oculus Quest changing gaming and virtual reality as we know it. It was a huge gamer changer in gaming because you didn’t need a PC or mac to play. All that you needed was the headset and controllers.

With the ever-changing advancement in technology, it’s anyone’s guess what gaming will be like in the years to come.


About the Creator

Jasmine Aguilar

Fascinated by pop culture and its effect on society... movies, music, books.. and pretty much anything super cool and intriguing.

Oh yeah! I'm writing my first novel - a sci-fi!

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