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The History of Video Games: Introduction

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

The Oregon Trail
Poor Aden...

Hi there, and welcome to the first episode of ‘The History of Video Games’. In this on-going series, we will track the evolution of video games from the very beginning. We will cover everything including - but not necessarily limited to;

  • The first arcade and home video games.

  • The 8-bit and 16-bit eras.

  • The rise and fall of the video arcade.

  • All eight generations of consoles.

  • The rise of handheld and mobile gaming.

  • The rise and fall of the home computer market of the 1980s and 1990s.

  • The continuing rise of PC gaming.

  • The rise of the 'AAA game' and modern-day monetisation methods.

We will also investigate games at the opposite end of the financial spectrum - such as the modding, indie and in-browser scenes - including the rise and fall of flash games.

We will also look at the current trend of retro gaming, online gaming and the rise of e-sports. We will conclude the series with a speculative look at what the future of video games might bring.

As you can imagine, this will take a while, so this will be a long-running series. If you would like to skip to the first 'proper' episode feel free to follow the link to The History of Video Games Part One: The First Video Game. However, if you would like to know the motivation behind this series please read on...

People born between the late 1970s to the early 1980s find themselves in a curious category known as the "Oregon Trail generation." Members of this generation bridge the gap between the last members of Generation X and the first of the Millennials.

Our generation gets its name from the Oregon Trail computer game, a game many of us played on our school’s Apple II computers or at home on our Commodore C64s. Dying of digital dysentery was much more fun than *gasp* “going outside to play".

Our generation saw the transition from analogue to digital in our formative years. We remember black and white CRT TVs, playing audio cassettes on our Sony Walkmans and renting films from video stores on VHS tapes (and hoping the VCR didn’t then chew them up).

However, we are also young enough to remember the introduction of CD players, DVDs, satellite TV and the early days of the internet. We are also just about young enough to easily cope with new technology, so we know our Facebook from our Twitter.

"Good for you", you might be thinking, "But what has this got to do with gaming?"

Good question. What this has to do with gaming is that the Oregon Trail generation is probably the first gamer generation’.

Let me explain…

Our parent's generation, composed of those who are in their fifties and sixties now, would not have experienced gaming to any great degree until they were already adults. This is assuming they have experienced gaming at all.

They don’t know what they are missing…

Our kid's generation, those who are currently still children and teenagers, would have grown up with gaming when gaming was already in a mature state. They will probably not have experienced anything more primitive than a Nintendo DS.

Not that we are jealous or anything…

Our generation, however, grew up with and matured with gaming, whilst gaming itself was growing and maturing. When gaming was in its infancy, so were we. When gaming had reached its adolescence, we too were spotty teenagers and when gaming reached its peak we were twenty-to-thirty somethings.

This leaves members of our generation in a unique and ideally placed position to both chart the evolution of technology, and bridge the gap between the analogue and digital generations. Older generations who are perhaps 'digital tourists' can learn from us what all the fuss is about, while younger digital natives can learn what technology and gaming were like in the pre-digital age.

Those like myself who have been gamers since the early 1980s have racked up some thirty-odd years behind joysticks, mice and gamepads. In that time we have seen the dizzying heights gaming can reach, and the crushing depths it can plunge to as well.

So sit back and enjoy as we take a journey through time, where we will track the evolution of gaming through the years, and discuss the good, the bad, and the downright broken. In the next article we ask "What was the first ever video game?" See you all there.

Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to online multiplayer. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at, and contacted via email at

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Picture Credits.

Main image by methodshop .com


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