From arcade videogames to home videogame consoles (Sony PlayStations and Microsoft Xbox), gaming has evolved at a rapid pace. Today's modern games are nothing like they used to be in the 1960s, the era when commercial games came into existence. Want to know more about how it all began and transformed into a multi-billion industry that keeps on expanding at an exponential rate? You've arrived at the right place.
Here's an exciting list of the top 10 oldest videogames that remain to be an integral and unforgettable part of the gaming industry:
1. PongDate of Release: November 29, 1972 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Single and multiplayer
A game of its league, Pong emerged to be the sensational hit of 1972. Developed by Allan Alcorn, it was the product of Atari (earlier known as Syzygy Engineering) and started as a training exercise assigned to Allan by Nolan Bushnell. Soon after its release, the classic table tennis game was loved by everyone and companies started creating videogames that were similar to that of Pong.
By the end of the year during Christmas in 1972, Atari decided to launch a home console of the game and that is how Pong became a part of almost every household in the US. Many often credit the profitability of a game to its hardware and simplicity that even led to the rise of console industries. People who earlier enjoyed playing Pong in the arcade center could now experience the same excitement at the comfort of their home only due to the gaming consoles.
2. Space RaceDate of Release: July 16th, 1973 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Multiplayer
Different from anything that the world has seen before, Atari in 1973 brought a new picture of gaming to its audience. This time, it was inspired by the magic of space. Previously named Asteroid, Space Race was based on the ideas of Atari co-founders Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a challenging game, where players were on the mission of stealing planets. The amazing control and brilliant graphics make it a game that you definitely can try out even today.
Though the game was unable to meet the aspirations of the founders, it ended up inspiring Japanese computer scientists to develop a clone known as Taito that was later renamed Astro Race. Also, Space Race turned out to be the first-ever racing game too.
3. Computer SpaceDate of Release: 1971 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Single and Multiplayer
Computer Space was based on the famous game Space War, and again it came from the house of Atari. During the period of development, it was meant to be a coin version of the Space War. However, Atari came into partnership with Nutting Associates and was able to create a prototype of the game. After successful initial testing, Nutting decided to order a whopping 1,500 products of the game and it was eventually sold to its partner.
Though Computer Space never made an official release, still it marks the beginning of the commercial gaming industry.
4. Galaxy GameDate of Release: November 1971 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Multiplayer
The Galaxy Game was the aftermath of Atari's Space Race. Only this time, the game was developed by two students of Stanford University, Hugh Tuck and Bill Pitts, who spent over $65,000 to construct prototypes of the game. The players had to pay 25 cents for three and 10 cents for two players, making the preferred choice of university students.
Despite everything that Tuck and Pitts put into, the game couldn't be a commercial success. However, you can find their second game even today at the Computer History Museum of the university.
5. Gran Tank 10Date of Release: May 1974 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Multiplayer
Space Race made Atari rethink its concept of gaming, and that's how Gran Tank was born in 1974. Another videogame that brought life to racing, Gran Tank focused on cars and was operated by wheels, brake pedals, accelerators, and gear sticks. It was the perfect setup later adopted for almost every racing arcade videogame.
Larry Emmons was the initial developer of the game and later Eigen Systems worked on the mechanical design of Gran Tank. It was Allan Alcorn who made it ready for the gamers. Unlike other failed attempts of Atari in 1974, Gran Tank did become a grand commercial success.
Thanks to the success of Gran Tank, Atari started taking racing games more seriously than before and invested in another game called Tank in November 1974. The tank was a 100% original game created by Lyle Rains and Steve Bristow, and Atari ended up manufacturing original titles of the game. As a matter of fact, the game helped the company to overcome financial troubles, as it was able to sell over 10,000 units in a matter of three months.
6. Gun Fight (Western Gun)Date of Release: 1975 Origin: Japan Mode of Gaming: Two-player
The first game of Japanese origin on the list, Western Gun (now named Gun Fight) was a widely acclaimed video game that was the first to depict combat action. The game was developed by Tomohiro Nishikado, who is adored for his creation of memorable games like Space Invaders and Taito. What might come as a surprise is that, the game was along with a US-based tank that aided in the popularity of multidirectional shooting. As, in Western Gun, the two players had to navigate across a mazy landscape and blast guns until the enemy was down.
Western Gun was released in North America by Midway and it was Midway who changed the name to Gun Fight. This brand new name brought more sense to the American audience and sparked mass cultural consciousness, as people could know what exactly to expect from the videogame, also it was the first-ever game that had a microprocessor.
7. Spacewar!Date of Release: 1962 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Multiplayer
Now, the gaming industry had witnessed both, space and war games, to take this to the next notch, programmer, Steve Russell decided to bring both aspects together and developed Spacewar. This became the first game that found its place at the US Library of Congress.
But, Steve Russell alone cannot be credited for the development, rather he along with the help of Martin Gratz conceptualized the videogame at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Later, as the game achieved commercial success, the duo appointed employees and students from MIT itself, for giving it a better direction.
8. Star RaidersDate of Release: 1979 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Single and Multiplayer
Star Raiders was the first-person combat game based in space by Atari. This time, the company decided to make the game more tactical and advanced, where players transformed into the starship pilot who had to protect the space from alien invasion. What added to the gaming was limited fuel, where players had to pay attention to how they used it for planning every attack against the alien warships.
9. BreakoutDate of Release: 1976 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Single player
As Pong kept on growing ever since its inception, the founders of Atari were more inclined towards introducing something different to their loyal fans. With that in mind, Breakout was launched in 1976, where the playfield of Pong was filliped and an archetypal puzzle emerged. What's even more exciting is that Atari hired Steve Jobs for creating the prototype, and the concept turned out to be highly demanding among gamers. Even though Breakout had zero fuss and was 100% straightforward, but the finesse and tactics definitely kept players hooked to the game. Just like Star Riders, Breakout inspired a new generation of clear screen games like Peggle and Arkanoid.
10. GalaxianDate of Release: 1979 Origin: USA Mode of Gaming: Single-player
If it was Space Invaders that took players to space, Galaxian showed them the future.That's right, a crisp shooting game that had multi-colored graphics along with AI that gave the attacking aircrafts advanced behaviors. In fact, Galaxian showed the way to superlative sequels of space shooting i.e. Gorf, and Phoenix, making the three an admirable trilogy that one simply can't escape.
At the end of the day, video games are a true work of art. Exploring and playing old games is just like walking back to the passage of time and reliving the days when games were brimming with ideas, experiments, and thoughts that might seem simple today, but were indeed magical back then. This explains the craze and fondness people of every age had towards video games. Though the genres were different, the gameplay was not the same, and the storyline hit a different road, still, the love for gaming kept every player united, and that truly makes the oldest videogames a celebration in itself.