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History of video games/1980-1989

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Trends[edit | edit source]

Decision Making[edit | edit source]

The early 1980's were a chaotic time in the Gaming Industry, with little demographic information on gamers available to inform game companies on their decisions.[1]

Home Computers[edit | edit source]

The 1980's saw the rise of personal computers, as well as home game development companies.

See the 1980's section of the Computer gaming article.

Arcades[edit | edit source]

A replica of the iconic Donkey Kong upright arcade cabinet.

The late 1970's and early 1980's is widely considered to be the peak of arcades, as they were culturally relevant and popular in many countries. Arcade machines allowed players to game without the expensive upfront cost of consoles, as well as to experience graphical fidelity that often surpassed what was possible on popular home hardware.

High Difficulty[edit | edit source]

Games from the 1980's are known for their high difficulty. As game media could not easily store information for detailed long stories and campaigns, many developers instead used high difficulties to make games last longer.

Gaming Watches[edit | edit source]

While gaming watches first hit the market in the 1970's, they became relatively common during the 1980's and 1990's.[2] An example of a watch from this time is the 1984 Casio GD8 wristwatch, which included a simple racing game.[3]

Popular Genres[edit | edit source]

  • Arcade games
  • 2D Platformers
  • 2D Action adventure games
  • Puzzle games
  • Rougelikes (On Computers)

1983[edit | edit source]

Game Stores[edit | edit source]

By 1983 there were dedicated game stores and mail order used game services in the United States.[4]

The Video game crash of 1983[edit | edit source]

The 1980's also saw the end of the Second generation of video game consoles with the Video game crash of 1983 severely disrupting the market in North America[5]. Unsold North American-market Atari consoles, computers and cartridges are buried in a New Mexico landfill to be discovered only in 2013.

Third Generation of Video Game Consoles[edit | edit source]

Beginning in 1983 the Third generation of video game consoles later saw widespread mainstream success.[6] These consoles offered much better 2D graphics and sound then earlier generations.

WarGames[edit | edit source]

WarGames, a 1983 movie about a teenager computer hacker and phreaker looking for unreleased video games but accidentally triggering a nuclear defense system, helps put computer hacking in the public imagination and sparks some of the first high level American government efforts regarding cybersecurity.[7] While many aspects of the movie were fake, automated scanning of phone numbers for game company computers was inspired by real phreaker practices from the time like demon dialing[7][8], which came to be known as "wardialing" after the film.

1984[edit | edit source]

Distribution[edit | edit source]

A few companies such as Cumma Technology try their hand at game distribution through rewritable cartridges.[9]

1987[edit | edit source]

A 1987 design document for the game Bubble Ghost. Sketches on graph paper were common for game design during the 1980's.

Beginning of the Fourth Generation of Video Game Consoles[edit | edit source]

Early fourth generation game console began to be released in 1987[10], though serious competition in this space would not begin until 1990 with more international releases.[11] The improved hardware in these consoles featured much better audio and graphics than the previous generation.[11]

1989[edit | edit source]

Fall of the Berlin Wall[edit | edit source]

Throughout the 1980's game developers in East Germany had to make games in accordance to party wishes, such as not including violent elements in their games.[12] Meetings of gamers were often monitored by the Stasi agents out of concern that western software and games were being used.[13] On November 9th, 1989 East German citizens begin to tear down the Berlin Wall, leading to German Reunification[14] and thus the end of gaming culture under the East German government.

1980's gaming gallery[edit | edit source]

General Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lien, Tracey (2 December 2013). "No girls allowed" (in en). Polygon. https://www.polygon.com/features/2013/12/2/5143856/no-girls-allowed. Retrieved 25 October 2020. 
  2. Crecente, Brian (7 December 2015). "Watch History Time killers: The strange history of wrist gaming". Polygon.com. https://www.polygon.com/a/smartwatch-history-guide-evolution/watch-history. 
  3. "A brief history of wearable gaming" (in en). 8 April 2015. https://www.wareable.com/features/the-history-of-wearable-gaming. 
  4. "SECONDHAND GAMES FOR VIDEO BUFFS (Published 1983)". 7 July 1983. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/07/07/garden/secondhand-games-for-video-buffs.html. 
  5. "No. 3038: The Video Game Crash of 1983". https://www.uh.edu/engines/epi3038.htm. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  6. "Video Game History". https://www.cs.uic.edu/~pinglot/proj1/hovg3.html. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  7. a b "WarGames: A Look Back at the Film That Turned Geeks and Phreaks Into Stars" (in en-us). https://www.wired.com/2008/07/ff-wargames/. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  8. Kaplan, Fred (19 February 2016). "‘WarGames’ and Cybersecurity’s Debt to a Hollywood Hack (Published 2016)". https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/movies/wargames-and-cybersecuritys-debt-to-a-hollywood-hack.html. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  9. Pollack, Andrew (12 January 1984). "TECHNOLOGY; NEW SOFTWARE DELIVERY IDEAS (Published 1984)". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/12/business/technology-new-software-delivery-ideas.html. 
  10. "Fourth Generation (1987-1993)" (in en). 22 September 2016. https://hiscoga.wordpress.com/fourth-generation-1987-1993/. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  11. a b "4th Generation". https://www.retroislife.com/Video-Game-History/Console-History/4th-Generation/4th-generation.html. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  12. "Gaming Beyond the Iron Curtain: East Germany". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7xndvitLa8. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  13. "ZEIT ONLINE Lesen Sie zeit.de mit Werbung oder im PUR-Abo. Sie haben die Wahl.". https://www.zeit.de/digital/games/2018-11/computer-games-gdr-stasi-surveillance-gamer-crowd. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 
  14. "Fall of Berlin Wall: How 1989 reshaped the modern world". 5 November 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50013048. Retrieved 22 November 2020. 

1970-1979 · 1990-1999