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A Complete History of PC Gaming

The modern gaming industry has diversified into three distinct streams: PC games, console games and mobile games, with all of them targeting different people. Mobile games are favoured by casual gamers, those who will pick up there phone for a few minutes at a time, often during commutes or break times at work. PC games are for the hardcore gamers, with their better graphics and immersive opportunities, like VR linkups. Console games bridge the gap between the two, and are often for the more social gamers, as multiple controllers can be used on the same console.

PCs are the preferred platform for developers, with 56% releasing their games on PC in 2019. Second place were mobile devices with 38% of developers releasing their games on smartphones and tablets. For those who think games are only played on consoles, because these are the systems that garner the most advertising, these might be surprising statistics. With much being made of the console battles between Microsoft and Sony, it’s easy to forget that it was PC gaming that started it all. For those who have forgotten, here’s a brief but comprehensive run down of the major milestones in PC gaming history.

Scientists were trying to create playable video games as early as the 1950s. When you think that this was decades before anyone even dreamed of owning a home computer, it tells you something about how quickly they saw the potential of these machines. In England in 1952 Alexander Douglas created a version of noughts and crosses which could be played on Cambridge University’s EDSAC computer, essentially a room-sized calculator without a graphical display. In 1958 in America, William Higinbotham adapted the Donner Computer – also a calculator without a graphical display – by connecting it to an oscilloscope to create a game called Tennis for Two, which became one of the first video games to have a video display and analogue controllers.

Both these games could only be played on the computer they were built for, but it wasn’t long until a game came along which was installed and played on multiple machines. That game was Spacewars!, developed by Steve Russell at MIT, and it featured two spaceships, both controlled by human players, which were battling each other in space. The game became so popular that ten years later, in 1972, it was the basis of the first video game tournament at Stanford University. eSports competitions are hugely popular today and are held for a variety of games including Fortnite, FIFA and League of Legends.

The trend catches on

With interest in video games rising, it was time for the hardware developers to jump on the bandwagon and start bringing out machines that were capable of playing the games. While it wasn’t the first personal computer, the one credited with raising interest in the idea of owning your own was the IBM 5150. It came with a display and a keyboard, and unlike the early machines which were built with a singular purpose in mind, it had multiple functions. And one of them was playing computer games. It was released in 1981, the same year that the operating system MS-DOS hit the market. MS-DOS became integral to the framework of the next generation of computer games, with text-based adventures and simple pixelated games dominating the 1980s gamer scene.

The 1980s also saw major leaps in hardware, including the Intel 80386 processor, which would later become the basis its Pentium line, the EGA video card, which gave gamers access to better graphics and playability, and the SoundBlaster card, which brought video game sounds into a new era.

Designing the games

And for their part, the video game designers kept pushing the limits of the available technology, spurring developers on to create bigger and better systems. Games like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D created and popularised the first-person shooter genre. Diablo and Baldur’s Gate did the same for the RPG genre, paving the way for massive projects like World of Warcraft. And Maxis studios dominated the simulation genre with its more casual and gentle games like Sim City and The Sims. It was in the 1990s that the video game industry really began to diversify and recognise that there were different types of gamers who wanted different things from their titles.

One of these diversifications which has turned into a whole new industry of its own is the world of online slots. Adapting on the traditional slot machine found usually in pubs and land-based casinos, digital innovation resulted in the first online slots appearing in the late-90’s. The online game quickly gained popularity due to the ease of play, accessibility and convenience. The graphics and display of online slot games have been advancing for years with providers offering a range of themes and appealing designs for their players to choose from, giving the real-life feel of playing a traditional slot machine. Nowadays, due to increasing demand, the market is growing and as you’ll notice when you play Betsafe slot games, there are games in every genre.

Looking to the future

As far as the future of the Gaming Industry goes, there are some really exciting developments coming through. Virtual Reality gaming and Augmented Reality gaming are in their infancy, but the potential already shown by these systems is staggering. It may not be long before fully immersive video games become the norm, and PCs and consoles become completely obsolete.

This is a paid guest post.

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