When electronic games appeared decades ago, the only option we had was to send a ball from side to side in the famous “Pong”. Well, that was the only interactivity at the time. Then the games evolved and the notorious joystick was modified, but always keeping us in the armchair (or in the computer chair).
But how did games stop being conventional and become more and more interactive? Check in this article a brief passage through several evolutions of the joystick, of the systems and even games that use very interactive technologies.
Types of games
Didactically, we think of a classification of games on three levels, taking into account the platform used, the connection to the internet and, finally, the modality (or genre) of the game.
In the 70s and 80s, games were played on coin-operated machines (or tokens) known as arcades, or arcades. The evolution to home consoles occurred in the 1980s, with Atari as its main representative. In the 90s the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive appeared, and currently the most popular consoles are the Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Xbox. Computer games have also evolved a lot, and recently we see a huge growth in games developed for mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets.
The technological evolution of these different platforms has made possible an increasing degree of realism in the images, sounds, interactivity and speed of the games. These aspects are relevant to addiction, as they increase the intensity of the stimuli, intensify the player’s involvement with the game’s content and require greater skill from the player, which, in turn, increases their interactivity with the game itself.
Here is the example of comparison between the famous Pac-man of the early 80s (in which the goal was to escape the ghosts and eat tablets) with a current war game like Modern Warfare, in which the player uses realistic weaponry, in combat with impressive, highly vivid sounds and images, and you can still do it in the remote company of your friends, each in your home, all connected by the internet within the same virtual war field.
Connection: Internet connection brings as its main change the possibility that several players, distant or not geographically, participate in the same game. This results in two important points: the increase / need for interactivity between players and the continuity of many games in real time, that is, the game keeps happening even when the player disconnects to sleep, study or work. This persistence is an aspect that can generate the need to be online as long as possible and causes many people to end up neglecting other important things in their life (eating, sleeping, studying, etc.).
The fruitful field of game development today has dozens of different game genres. These range from sports games (such as football, basketball and car racing), to adventure, war and mystery games, to games that simulate the administration of cities, farms and football clubs. We will address here the modalities that generate more clinical repercussions due to their greater potential to cause dependence. Among these, MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, also called MMO), FPS (First Person Shooter) and management / construction simulation games should be highlighted. Very popular examples of MMO are World of Warcraft (WOW) and Lineage 2; Call of Duty (COD) and Counter Strike (CS) stand out among the FPS; and FarmVille,
Stimulating technological development
With the evident success of electronic games, innovation in the content of games has become increasingly important, but technology has proved to be a major obstacle to the creation of new games. Thus, the solution found by the video game giants was to invest in technological development: better graphics, pieces that support more complex games, more efficient data storage technologies, among others.
The electronic game companies dedicated themselves to developing such technologies and ended up creating devices and software that proved to be extremely valuable for technological advancement in other areas. Such as high definition screens, gesture control, portable consoles (such as Nintendo’s Game Boy), possibility to store game data in the cloud, online player connection, and much more.