Today, video games make up over a $120 billion global industry, with more than two billion gamers around the world, including those who play free video games on their mobile phones, and the numbers are only getting higher.

The term “Video game”

Technically, for a product to be considered a video game, it has to output images with the player’s moves on a screen, unlike previous electronic games, where the output was printed out on paper using a printer rather than a display.

Spacewar! The $20,000 game

Computers back in the 1950s were very expensive and limited in speed and memory, making it a waste to be used for entertainment such as games. However, when Lincoln Laboratory donated the TX-0 computer to MIT in 1958, the university allowed students to learn and create programs on it, till one of the first widespread digital video games was invented, Spacewar!

But what is actually the first game ever made?

Because these games were developed on unique hardware, it was still difficult to transfer programs from a device to another, so computers were discarded after serving their limited purposes. For the same reason, it is unknown who developed the first video game.

Something we know though is that the first chess computer program with machine learning (player vs. computer), named Turochamp, was created by Alan Turing and David Champernowne and was completed in 1950, however, it was never implemented into a computer, as the algorithms were too complicated to be handled by such weak computers.

But how did entertainment start being worthy for computers?

By 1970, the introduction of transistors and microchips resulted in a massive reduction in the cost of computing, lowering minicomputers prices down to $10,000, yet too expensive to be in every home. However, that made possible for the creation of the coin-operated games industry, also called Arcade games, in which you insert a coin to play. Starting with Pac Man in 1980, which sold 96,000 units in the United States.

In the 1960s, a number of computer games were made for mainframe computers, but this type of games failed to achieve a wide-distribution due to weakness of computer components, lack of programmers with interest to develop games, and the difficulty in cloning programs from a computer to another. However, by the end of 1970, high-level programming languages were introduced such as BASIC and C, and in 1983, the internet was invented.

Video games industry under the spotlights

This was when game-development began to grow, introducing 8 generations of video games and gaming consoles, including Atari, Nintendo, Sega’s games, Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and new technologies such as playing via body gesture and virtual reality. Video games have become one of the largest entertainment industries, on multiple platforms such as mobile phones, gaming consoles, portable consoles, and personal computers.