We have truly come a long way from the cathode ray tube in 1947, to the arcade games of the 80’s and now the wondrous consoles we have today. I am going to talk you through the console timeline adding in a few of my favourite games of all time, to show how much we as a market and industry have developed over the 64 years of video gaming.
At the start of the 6th generation in 2000 the PlayStation 2 was released. The PS2 soon became the best-selling console selling more than 155 million units. Due to its success it was manufactured into several different smaller and lighter models; known as “Slimline” models. The PS2 software was distributed on CD-ROM and DVD-ROMs, this meant it could also play audio CD’s and DVD films; the PS2 also featured backtracking abilities which meant that you could play PS1 games on the newer PS2 console. In the 6th generation there were four main consoles fighting for the top spot; Sony’s PlayStation 2, Sega’s Dreamcast, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube.
A year after the PS2 was released Nintendo gave us the GameCube; one of my favourite consoles of all time. It used mini DVD format for its primary storage and memory cards for game saves; this mini optical disc drive meant that it was not compatible with regular CD’s and DVD’s, however this didn’t matter to Nintendo because it was all about the gaming. Despite not having CD and DVD compatibility Nintendo did make additional add-ons for the GameCube; they introduced the first console to support online gaming and connectivity to the GameBoy Advance, which let players access hidden in game features using the GameBoy Advance as another screen and controller.
The best game of all time and literally the entirety of my childhood; The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Released in 2002 on the GameCube, this game is the tenth in The Legend of Zelda series; the action adventure game was so successful it has been recently remade in HD for Nintendo’s Wii U. Unlike the older games Wind Waker uses cel shading graphics and a toon style, this was fairly controversial when in production but I feel like it was a great choice and it really captivated me when I was younger. My favourite thing about this game besides the wonderful bright colours and music is the use of side quests they are normally seen in all Zelda games however this game was so large that if you got stressed with the main mission you can go off and take pictures or play with some chickens (Cucco’s).
In 2001 at the same time the GameCube was released a computer company decided that they were going make a console and thus the Xbox was produced and distributed by none other than Microsoft. This was Microsoft first venture into the gaming console market; the Xbox featured Xbox Live which for a fee meant that you could access the internet and play online with others and download new content. Initially in 1998 four engineers from Microsoft decided they wanted to make a games console; they used parts from Dell laptops and constructed prototypes; this was how the Xbox originally came about.
Finally the 7th generation has come and Sega is out of the picture; this is where the three way fight for the top stop begins; between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. In 2005 the first console of this generation is released; Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The main difference between this console and its successor is the power and graphics; it is a revamped improved version. In 2006 Nintendo and Sony both release their consoles; the Playstation3 and the Wii.
The PS3 was the most powerful of consoles in the 7th generation meaning that the games were better looking and on one disc unlike the Xbox. The PS3 was the first console to used Blu-ray discs for its games; they also featured a free online service called the PlayStation network which meant that you could download games and add ons; you can also use the internet, play online and watch movies and TV on apps like Netflix. It also has connectivity with PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita.
The Wii was created for more interactive gameplay, I has two motion controllers with a sensor bar to follows the player’s movements. Nintendo created the Wii for a larger demographic than the PS3 and the Xbox360; it supports lower visuals but more interaction; it is aimed at multiple players rather than one. The Wii features games like the Wii fit aimed at young women, Mario games for children to adults and shooting games for teenage boys; by having this wide of a target audience it makes the Wii very desirable and suitable for a family home.
After these consoles came out there was a massive gap until the next generation of consoles were released, I like to call it the gap of good games. My favourite games company Rockstar thrived during this time; their most famous series being the Grand Theft Auto, the first one came out on the PS1 and have just released the 11th in the series; my personal favourite is GTA: Vice City. They also released a beautiful game called Red Dead Redemption set in western times, it featured amazing game play, a great open world experience, a truly amazing storyline, perfect online gameplay, beautiful graphics and truly fantastic music. This game even had an extension game with zombies, I mean what more do you want in a game? But my all-time favourite has got to be L.A. Noire; its dark gritty noire storyline set in the 1940’s is just up my street. It features a detective called Cole Phelps and you work though different cases making your way up the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) table and working for different departments. The main reason that L.A. Noire was so perfect for me was the realism; L.A. Noire features a newly developed technology used for film and now video gaming called motion scan. Motion scan used 32 cameras to capture the actors every movement and expression which is then transferred to in game animation.
Another notable game was The Last of Us; made for the PS3 is won 67 awards and is seen as one of the best games created. The Last of Us is truly beautiful to look at, it was made to show how good a game can be on the 7th generation of consoles; this made it obvious to people how amazing the next generation of games would be compared to The Last of Us.
After the long gap of good games the 8th generation started with Nintendo releasing the Wii U. The Wii U introduced a new control with a 6.2” touch screen that changes how people interacts with their games. The Wii U is also compatible with Wii the new pro controllers, the classic controllers, Nunchuk and Wii balance board; nearly all of the Wii software and accessories can be used with the new Wii U. Unlike the Wii the Wii U supports up to 1080p HD graphics, this is the same as the PS3 and Xbox 360 even though it is seen as the 8th generation it is outdated compared to the PS4 and Xbox One; this was the same with the Wii.
The PlayStation 4 was released in 2013 and is vastly superior to it successor the PS3; it has a greater gaming rig with an 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, along with an 800MHz AMD Radeon GPU and a 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. Compared to the PS3 which has a single core chip, 550MHz GPU and 256MB of DDR3 RAM, the speed maybe fast on the PS3 but with one single core processor and relatively tiny amount of RAM it is nothing compared to the PS4.
The Xbox One has seen a huge change compared to the Xbox 360; it now has an 8-core AMD when the Xbox 360 had a Xenos processor with 3 separate cores, nowhere near the same amount of power as the Xbox One. The Xbox One now has 8GB of RAM and 500GB internal memory compared to 512MB of RAM and 250GB on the Xbox 360. However due to the Xbox One’s mandatory installs they storage will fill up quickly. This is the current generation of consoles and they are still fighting for the top spot and it is still too soon to see which console will win overall.
However the PC is a dark horse in this battle of the consoles; it is a versatile type of console, the more money you spend on the console the better it will play games. The PC and be extremely powerful far better than the Xbox One or PS4, PC also has a massive following of dedicated users. One of the main game distributers for the PC is Steam; Steam is an online shopping site and app for PC gamers which allows you to buy and play games of their choice. Steam was created by Valve the same people that brought you the brilliant game Portal; Steam was finally made available to the public in 2003 for PC Window users in 2010 it was made available to Mac users. Steam was created so that PC gamers could get good deals and support indie game developers with games like Don’t Starve. The Steam community as expanded to beyond billions and now they are developing their own console called the Steam Box which would bring steam deals and great new content to the console market.
Another notable advancement throughout the last couple years is a device called the Oculus Rift, which is a virtual reality device which mounts two displays on your head like a large pair of ski goggles. The rift uses new technology which allows 360 head tracking, meaning that you can look seamlessly around a game environment like you would in real life. This device tracks every movement creating a natural and realistic gaming experience. I believe we will start to see more products like this one on the market to bring gaming into the future with virtual reality.
Overall we can see a drastic improvement throughout the past decade, the major advancements in the power of consoles has made the games truly beautiful and innovative. I predict that in the next decade we will be dominated by PC’s and phones more than consoles; I also feel that the PC and console will combine with virtual gaming software to create an amazing realistic gaming experience.
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