There’s so much to cover in the history of game art that I’m going to have to split this into a few different blog posts. To start with, let’s talk about early innovations in game graphics technology.
It’s a little bit difficult to define exactly where video games were born, as it is difficult to define what exactly qualifies as a video game when speaking about early experimentations in the field (Morris & Hartas, 2003, p. 10). The first notable graphic video game, Noughts and Crosses, was created in 1952 by A.S. Douglas (Bellis, n.d.). Noughts and Crosses was an electronic version of tic-tac-toe that ran on the then-impressive Electro Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, a very large computer at Cambridge University (History of Gaming, n.d.).
While tic-tac-toe is cool, it’s an incredibly simplistic game with little or no animation. Enter William Higinbotham, who created “Tennis for Two” in 1958. Tennis for Two was a video game that simulated tennis from a ide view, with the ground at the bottom, the net in the center, and the ball bouncing from left to right. This game was impressive because it not only had animated graphics, but also simulated gravity as the ball bounced around the screen (Gettler, p. 1, n.d.).
In 1962, Steve Russell created what is likely considered to be the first truly authentic video game. Spacewar, as Russell called it, was a game where two players each controlled their own space ship and fired lasers at one another in an attempt to destroy the other (Classic Gaming Museum, n.d.). Despite its primitive, black and white graphics, this game was very advanced for its time.
Fast forward a few years to 1972 and we reach our first heavy hitter. Pong, developed by Atari Incorporated, was released to the masses and began the video game revolution. Pong quickly became the first game to be commercially successful, and spawned many imitation games from other companies.
Although we aren’t seeing much in the form of art at this point in video games’ history, I feel it’s important to have an idea where gaming began. With that said, what better way to know where it began than to actually play one of the first games? Thanks to http://www.ponggame.org, you can! Give it a try!
Morris, D., & Hartas, L. (2003). Game Art: The Graphic Art of Computer Games. New York, New York: The Ilex Press Limited.
History of Gaming: Interactive Timeline of Game History. (n.d.). KERA. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/history/timeline_flash.html.
Bellis, M. (n.d.). Computer and Video Game History. About.com Inventors. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blcomputer_videogames.htm.
Gettler, J. (n.d.). The First Video Game. Bookhaven National Laboratory. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/history/higinbotham.asp.
Classic Gaming Museum. (n.d.). Classic Gaming at Gamespy. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=ConsoleMuseum.Detail&id=3&game=12.