For video gaming fossils like me, who’s pretty much been there since the start (Well, not the very start but let’s just say when I started gaming, the games were loaded from cassette tapes). Anyway, for someone as old as I am, I have seen a tremendous amount of changes within video games. Changes that a vast many of you will take for granted and won’t be able to imagine it working any other way.
So, all you young whippersnappers put down your new-fangled mobile whatchamacallits, stop your streaming to YouTube and let me talk about what it was like back in those olden days of Video Gaming.
This is something that I have seen tremendous improvements on, largely due to the improvements in hardware and gaming media. When I started video gaming on my first computer a ZX 128k Spectrum, I would have to load a game from a cassette tape and it would take minutes, sometimes half an hour or more to load the game.
That’s right, half an hour of waiting to play your game. That’s assuming the game didn’t crash during loading. If it did and you started to see the border flash between red and cyan you had to stop and rewind the tape, reset your computer, and start again.
What is amazing is that even though I have had to wait far longer in the past, I do not expect to wait more than a minute on a loading screen these days.
Being able to save your game was a luxury not available to many people for many years. Initially, without saves if you wanted to complete a game you just had to play it through from start to end in one go, or leave your console on while you had a break, getting hotter and hotter the longer it was left on.
Then there was a period shortly after that, in level based games such as Lemmings for example, that gave you a code before each level. All you had to do was enter that code and you got straight to the level you were on. PC’s were a little ahead of the curve and had saves much sooner owing to the fact that PC’s had a hard drive, but consoles had to wait a lot longer before you could save your progress.
In the beginning it was simple, games didn’t have storylines, not really anyway. They simply involved a variety of basic icon-like characters bouncing or running around collecting fruit, stars or hearts or something, or they involved, rudimentary ships shooting pixels or lines at other rudimentary space debris. It was simple.
When a storyline was present you certainly couldn’t do anything to change it. The story simply happened around you and if you completed the game you were lucky enough to find out how that pre-written story ended.
As games got more complex, and the story’s behind them grew exponentially as well, we started to be given the choice of what to do, where to do go and even more impressively we started to see how our actions could affect the game world. It’s easy to look at games like Mass Effect, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Witcher and all the other decision based games and take their complex RPG storytelling for granted.
This is an impossibly big one, so much so that it has sub categories. Generally, it’s hard to imagine living without the internet in a great many reasons. It has changed the face of the entire world, bringing people closer together and letting us all share cat photos and those brief top-down cooking videos. Gaming has been changed just as much by it.
The biggest change that the internet has brought to gaming is bringing people together to play games that wouldn’t normally be able to. Initially, if a game had any multi-player at all it would be done by LAN. Meaning that everybody had to share the same room, and connect computers via a series of network cables.
With the internet, we have MMO’s that mean that people all over the world can play the same game, in the same game-world at the same time. Without the internet, there would be no MMO’s, and no eSports. Video Gaming would look very different.
Walkthroughs , Guides & Answers
This is something that occurred to me only recently. When I was younger, if I was ever stuck on a puzzle game or couldn’t figure out a strategy to killing a boss there was no easy way to find the answer. Now you can easily find the answers to every puzzle in every game or the strategy to every difficult encounter simply by searching on the internet. There are so many walkthrough guides and help pages that the only thing between you and the answer is your own willpower in not using a search engine.
Not having the answers was a double-edged sword of course, although you had a far greater sense of achievement when you finished a game, I can remember times when I was so stuck and clueless on a game that it would take me days or even weeks to get past a problem.
This is a contentious one but regardless of whether you think DLC are important additions to a game or simply a rather bullish and shameless way for game companies to make more cash, DLC is a relatively new thing.
Originally, games were as you saw them. You bought them, played them and hopefully finished them. If you wanted to extend your story, you had no choice but to hope they released a sequel to the game. Now, with all the various DLC’s the original game can be extended with more costumes, characters, storylines, maps, weapons and a whole host of other things.
The question is, of course, if there wasn’t any DLC would all of those things that would be in DLC make it into the released game, or simply on the devs cutting room floor. I’ll let you decide on that one.
Video gaming has changed a lot over the 25 years I’ve been gaming for, and it continues to change. With each new advance in technology, what we expect in a game changes and becomes commonplace. VR is getting stronger, so will this be the next big thing, or will it simply fade away without a trace? What’s just around the corner to change everything once more? Have I missed any off the list? Which ones do you think should on here, let us know in the comments.