The 5 Greatest Gaming Moments Of All Time
2011 will probably seen as a watershed moment in gaming. There were no new consoles of course, computers remained, well, computing devices, and the biggest games were all sequels. But in June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to overturn an odious censorship law aimed at games and in the process, bestowed them with legal recognition that they’re art. That’s a big deal, and it’s as good a reason as any to reflect on the last 50 years or so of gaming and think about the achievements that got us here.
With that in mind, here’s GameFront’s list of the 5 greatest gaming moments of all time.
5) 2009: Video Game Sales Surpass Film and Music.
Coming in at number 5 is the moment that the gaming industry grew up, moved out of its parent’s homes and got a job. Naturally, video games have been big business going back to the 70s, but the industry was still considered a second-rate entertainment revenue stream. That changed in the first decade of the 21st century, when video game sales began to overtake film and music sales. The exact point of demarcation is up for grabs. 2005 is the year American video game sales overtook film. In 2007, games finally overtook the music industry domestically. In 2008, worldwide video game sales surpassed both music and the movie industry.
For our money, it’s 2009, the year video game sales finally surpassed film, music and the DVD/Blu-ray industries (in total, not combined). Video Games have essentially been dominant ever since. 2011 estimates aren’t in yet, but to put things in perspective, for the month of November, the gaming industry enjoyed 3 billion dollars in domestic sales. Total 2011 movie ticket sales are estimated around 9 Billion.
4) 1997: Deep Blue (Probably) Beats Garry Kasparov
In 1997, Chess Champion gary Kasparov was on top of the world. Already regarded as one of the greatest chess players in the history of the game, he had beaten IBM’s beefy chess-playing computer Deep Blue 4-2, ‘proving’ that artificial intelligence could not match the power of the human mind. His victory still fresh in global imagination, he agreed to a rematch in 1997, and in a stunning upset, Deep Blue won this series, 3.5 to 2.5. This humiliated Kasparov and boosted IBM’s reputation just as the dot com boom was kicking into full swing.
A 2003 documentary investigated Kasparov’s claim that IBM cheated during the 1997 rematch and concluded they may just have, as a stunt to boost their stock value. IBM claims otherwise, but having dismantled Deep Blue, we’ll never know. What is clear, however, is that an artificial game-playing intelligence beat a human being, forever changing the way people looked at computer gaming. That advances made in the development of Deep Blue have profoundly affected subsequent video game AI is simply an added bonus. Sure, Chess might not be a video game, but Deep Blue sure is. And we’re just happy to find out the old adage is true: In Russia, Video Game Plays You!
3) 1972: The First Video Game Console
When you ask people to name the first video game console, people tend to say either Pong (pretty wrong) or the Atari (and those people are really, really wrong). Atari is old of course; their Pong console came out in 1975, and the 2600 dropped in 1977, (considered the beginning of generation 2, but you know that). The home video game age actually began in 1972 with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey.
The Odyssey is a weird hybrid, having both analogue and digital circuitry and discrete components. It was primitive, available only in black and white (with cheap color transparencies gamers could put in front of their TV screens to ‘simulate’, if you could call it that, a color game), and no sound. But it played real graphical games and featured the first gun peripheral ever, a light gun called the Shooting Gallery that, when plugged into the Oddyssey, gave gamers access to 4 different, incredibly crappy shooting games.
Unfortunately, though it came first, it’s only barely remembered because it didn’t sell very well. Magnavox sold it only at Magnavox retail centers, leading many consumers to believe it would only work on a Magnavox television (suffice to say, consumers were way less savvy in the 70s). But Atari did totally rip off Oddyssey’s Tennis game in the design of Pong, and at least it looked cool, like a 2001: A Space Oddyssey style aesthetic, which might have been the point, given the name.