How Have Video Games Evolved Over The Decades?

How Have Video Games Evolved Over The Decades?

Posted 30/03/2016 by BrightHouse Team

Video games have long been a popular form of entertainment, but they’ve evolved and changed so much over the years to become more popular than ever. They’ve also taken their place alongside film and television for their artistic value and cultural importance, recognised by organisations such as BAFTA.

There are hundreds of games that have entered the hall of fame for all sorts of reasons, but many genuinely changed the landscape of gaming. We’ve put together a list of iconic titles we feel have had the biggest impact, whether that’s introducing a new way of playing games, pushing boundaries, or just giving us an unforgettable experience.

Over the years, we’ve seen considerable improvements to graphics, gameplay and how individuals can battle it out online. Games such as FIFA, Halo and Call of Duty are three prime examples of how online gaming has evolved and further improved general gameplay.

Donkey Kong (1981)

A name you’ve almost certainly heard of, even if you never played this classic arcade game from Nintendo. Donkey Kong is an angry gorilla who spends his time throwing barrels and generally making life hard for the little man in red overalls trying to get past him. Not only was this game hugely popular in its own right, it gave rise to some of the most iconic characters in gaming. Oh, that little man in the overalls was called Mario.

Mortal Kombat (1992)

This was an early cross-platform release, coming out on every home gaming system at the time, as well as in arcades. Mortal Kombat became one of the most popular fighting games in history, as well as sparking a never-ending debate around violence depicted in games The game featured gory finishing moves with its (at the time) realistic graphics, which naturally didn’t gain it many fans among parents. This led to age-specific ratings for all games.

Doom (1993)   

The original and defining first-person shooter (FPS), Doom created a gaming subculture all by itself.  The term FPS wasn’t even in popular use at the time so other games of the genre were called Doom clones up until the late 90s, showing just how influential and important this game was. Doom paved the way with the 3D graphics, weapon selection, multiplayer, support for mods, and many other familiar parts of modern gaming.

Resident Evil (1996)

Resident Evil is one of the most well-known and iconic gaming brands in the industry, and gave rise to the survival horror genre, which it still defines to this day. Its mix of limited ammo, inventory management and puzzle-solving established many conventions for future horror games, and the franchise has spawned many sequels, films, and comics.

GoldenEye 007 (1997)

The idea of an FPS on console had been laughable before GoldenEye 007, but this game proved it could be done, and done very well. It not only brought a proper FPS to the console, it also moved the genre on as a whole, making level design more realistic and atmospheric, and adding stealth elements. And who can forget those amazing four-way split-screen deathmatches with friends.

Half-Life (1998)

Half-Life changed everything. What Doom had done for the FPS at the start of the decade, Half-Life did for gaming in 1998. It introduced players to an immersive world with stunning graphics and life-like AI, and told a gripping story without cutscenes and with an iconic silent main character. Pretty much all other FPSs can be categorised as pre Half-Life or post Half-Life.

Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001)

This landmark of gaming was the first GTA title to use a full 3D engine, and featured one of earliest ‘sandbox’ open worlds that have become so popular in modern gaming. It also became another beacon for criticism around sex and violence in video games, even though it was given a clear age certificate of 18. The Grand Theft Auto games went on to become some of the best-selling and most acclaimed in the gaming, including the most recent GTA V.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) 

Love it or hate it, the Call of Duty series has come to define modern gaming. Up until Call of Duty 4 the series had stuck with world war settings, but then took the bold step to move the action into the modern world. This opened it up to all sorts of controversies around current world conflicts and tensions, but the series still remains one of the most popular FPSs of all time.

Minecraft (2011)

An icon of modern gaming, Minecraft has become one of the best-selling games of all time. Over 70 million players have enjoyed building, breaking, digging, and surviving in Minecraft’s blocky worlds, with PC, Xbox, and mobile versions. Minecraft has found its way into mainstream culture in many different ways, including massive building projects and recreations of real-world and fantasy locations from books and films.


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