The Evolution of Gaming

Kelly Silva

— As the technology wave of the future provides electronic gaming with more complex systems, lines become blurred with the intended uses of systems.

If the resources are available, digital computer lines can be connected to televisions or PlayStations can be used as DVD players.

A black and white gaming monitor was replaced with color, which then brought people high-resolution graphics and 3-D images.

The evolution of electronic gaming has reached a multi-integrative networking point where gamers now drive the industry that does not see an end.

When Atari brought Pong to households in the early 1970s, it was an advanced form of entertainment for children and teen-agers mostly.

Namco released a series of old-school games such as Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger and Pole Position for all of those stand-up arcades that seem eons ago for gamers.

“I remember when Pong came out,” Stephanie Reineke of Springsips said. “I think it was like 1972. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened.”

Many children’s electronic gaming hobbies have become careers for adults as they jump into the 21st century and a $6 billion a year industry.

Darin Bennett has become one such victim of computer games that began in his childhood in the 1970s and has led him to become the information technology manager of Smartwool in Steamboat Springs.

Bennett is a recent lover of Asheron’s Call, a virtual world adventure game that provides multiplayer networking.

As Bennett sat in GEEKSgarage Wednesday morning discussing his player who has almost 26 years of experience, although he’s been with this character for only six months, virtual snowflakes fell on the screen and the constant running showed the player breathing on screen.

“This is just amazing to me,” Reineke said.

This updated version of Dungeons and Dragons found 8,300 people logged into their computers Wednesday morning. At night, Bennett said he finds more than 16,000 logged on to Asheron’s Call.

Chris Craft of Springsips said the evolution of computer games lies in the development of the microprocessor.

At the time Pong hit the market, there wasn’t a microprocessor fast enough to hold Pong. Hence, Atari created its own system. Computers are used for general purposes; consoles specifically are used for gaming.

“Now microprocessors are capable of a couple thousand Pongs,” Craft said. “Any generalities drawn in the past blur in the future.”

Bennett said gamers drive the market for high-end computer equipment.

Gaming consoles played in households around the world are made in Japan, including Atari, Sega, Nintendo, PlayStation and SNK. However, Microsoft released the first American-made gaming console Xbox in November 2001.

“Japan is pretty much the more technology advanced and they have a wider fan base,” said Sajon Covillo, Wal-Mart electronics department manager.

The Xbox also is the first gaming console to utilize a hard drive. Although this means players no longer need a memory card, it has the capacity to use one.

People needed to buy memory cards to save games on their consoles. Now, Covillo said the Xbox provides a hard drive that automatically stores the games.

“I think Microsoft said it won’t make any money back of the initial startup of the Xbox until 2005,” said Covillo, adding games make the companies a profit.

PlayStation II and Xbox contain 8 megabytes while Nintendo has about 4 megabytes. Gaming consoles and games have become just as technology advanced as computers and their software.

Craft said computer gaming began with kilobytes of memory, advanced to megabytes and now sees gigabytes.

“For a graphic card that plugs into the monitor, the standard is 64 megabytes,” Craft said.

Many of the original gaming companies have remained through the years such as Nintendo. However, Sega hit the markets about the same time as Nintendo in the early 1980s and is now only developing software for the consoles, Covillo said.

Controls for gaming consoles became obsolete when gaming companies began increasing the movements of a game, Covillo said. For instance, the joystick limited movements when games became more 3-D and graphic-heavy. But Covillo said it still is used for flying.

Console games are now rated E for Everyone, T for Teen and M for Mature (those 17 and older).

Covillo and sales associate Illya Averett said the mature games contain more extreme violence and more lifelike situations. Picking up prostitutes or killing anyone around the player is something people would find in an M-rated game.

Despite the regulated ratings and the highly publicized count of youth violence, Covillo said parents are the culprits buying these games for their children.

“I don’t think good kids go bad but in bad kids, (M-rated games) spark some interest,” Averett said.

Craft said there is no substitute for direct supervision by parents. Violent computer games are the symptom not the disease for violent children, he said.

“The pendulum swing in society is going toward conservative,” Craft said. “The balance hasn’t been struck between self-regulation and government control.”

According to the Interactive Digital Software Association, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that there was no support in the notion that violent media leads to long-term violence rather than some aggression.

This report was the most exhaustive government study to date on youth and violence from a public health perspective.

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