Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Death of the Arcades

Over the past few weeks, much of our critical studies module has focused on the history of the gaming industry and how it has developed over the past 40-50 years. I've already looked at games up until the 80's in small detail, so why not continue the streak into the 90's.
The 1980's were the start of the competitive gaming industry, where games began to move out of the arcades and into the home.  Because the market for home entertainment was growing, so was the industry, which led to studios being founded, some surviving more than 20 years...*cough* EA. This new rivalry in innovation of games led to many new genres appearing during the 80's. Many of our significant modern genres came out of these older more specific genres, such as First Person Shooters, Action Adventure and Role Playing Games.
The development of these games was very significant in order for these genres to grow. For example, Action Adventure games were spawned from Adventure games. The development of the adventure genre was very great throughout this decade alone, going from text only adventures to point and click environments in third person perspective with SCUMM system (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion system). One of the first well renowned text adventure games was Zork in 1980 (you can play this on CoD Black Ops for all those secret stalkers…and not the fish), shortly followed by Mystery House, for the Apple II. Mystery House wasn't just significant in the fact that it was a text adventure with graphical images. It was also the first graphic adventure game on home computers. This just shows the huge advancements which can happen in games in under a year!  
However, just because a company has a brilliant and unique idea, it doesn’t always mean they will be successful. Roberta and Ken Williams, Mystery House creators founded Sierra On-Live now more commonly known as Sierra Entertainment. Although they have thrived in the industry, they only really had major success during the third to sixth generations of consoles. Sierra focused more on home computer systems and conceived some very successful franchises such as the Crash Bandicoot series and Spyro the Dragon series, as well as creating the first Half Life for Valve, notably one of the most successful studios in the current generation. As Sierra showed success in the fifth and sixth generation, particularly with Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, the evolution of consoles into the seventh generation was not so successful, publishing games such as Robert Ludlum’s: The Bourne Conspiracy (personally, an awesome game… I suppose I just have better taste than most) which was not hugely successful.
The transition between generations is usually caused by a huge boom in ideas and technological advancement. This leads to some companies crumbling, and others envisioning brilliant steps in game development. For example, the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) is said to have revived gaming along with sparking the third generation of consoles in 1983. This led to awesome new franchises such as Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. This generation also gave rise to the narrowing of specific dominant consoles, which made other companies such as Commodore and Amstrad struggle in the “console wars”. With the new large advancements in technology came new graphics systems, and the crossover of generations causing the age of the arcade to slowly die out forever.

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