Tuesday, January 09, 2007

consumer electronics recapitulate video game history

It's time to finally write down my theory from at least 10 years ago when I noticed how excited people were to play simple games such as hangman on the web when 8-bit computers like the Apple ][ did it over a decade earlier. The theory in a nutshell is:

As a technology develops the games it can play retraces the history of video games

It's either profound or obvious. There are some exceptions to the rule- most notably Tetris which seems to belong in the late 1970's but debuted in 1985. Plus, of course, some devices are better at certain types of games than others.

So where are we in 2007? People are playing early 1990's games in flash. We can now play Doom (1993) on digital cameras, PDAs, and MP3 players but not without a lot of hacking. These are often linux squeezed onto a consumer electronics device that runs a linux version of Doom. I'm not sure if I should count this kind of hackery.

Speaking of MP3 players, I recently bought my wife a brand new state-of-the-art Apple ipod nano. It comes with four games - two are arcade games: Arrow (a game like Hustle from 1977) and Breakout ( like Breakout from 1976 but not as sophisticated as Super Breakout from 1977). The other two games are a quiz game and solitaire. Videogame versions of those are from the mid 80's at the latest.

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