Gaming has certainly come an awful long way since the days of Atari’s 2600 system, with many new innovations in how a game is played, not to mention in its visual and audio quality. Back in the 1970’s, with the dawn of the video gaming age, the goal was to offer the most entertaining and innovative games that technology would allow, which is a tradition that is still ongoing to this day, with companies always seeking to get the most out of the latest gaming systems, but games were very different in both looks and game play, than what is the norm today. Many of the biggest early gaming successes were based around a simplistic concept that worked, with games such as Pong being incredibly addictive, but yet it seems so basic by today’s standards.
After the gaming crash of 1983, game makers felt increased pressure to offer something new and unique enough to generate substantial interest. Quite possibly the biggest turning point in gaming to date was the release of Nintendo’s Famicom, or Nintendo Entertainment System as it would be known as within the United States. The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, while still being based around an 8-bit chip like the systems before it were, offered a whole new level of game play depth that was thought to be impossible only a short time before. Graphics were considerably sharper than for any previous system, and the variety of games was simply like nothing that had been seen before. By the opinions of most, the NES nearly singlehandedly saved gaming from what had looked to be a swift demise.
Ever since the NES days, gaming has always attempted to expand more and more, to keep the gaming experiences fresh. The 32-Bit era was the dawn of games on a CD-Rom based format, and in came the movie clips and cut scenes, not to mention CD quality music for the first time. Unfortunately, each generation since then seems to be having a diminishing amount of true innovation, with a greater focus instead, going towards offering the best graphics possible at the expensive of compelling game play. As a result, more and more games seem to play the same, with real innovation becoming increasingly rare. Because of this lack of real innovation lately, some feel that gaming may be heading for a second Gaming crash unless something major happens soon. The reason that a system such as the NES was such a success is because it brought a great amount of innovation, coupled with superior graphics. Within recent years however, graphics appear to be the top priority according to some, which is a dangerous game for the gaming industry to be playing.
Fancy visuals may amaze people on the short-term, but eventually they will be looking for something with a greater amount of substance. More than any company, Nintendo is again at the top of innovation thanks to their successful Nintendo DS and Wii systems, but even Nintendo doesn’t seem to be changing much outside of introducing some new gimmicks, which while fresh don’t seem to offer much beyond surface innovation. That said, Nintendo has still been doing more than their competitors have been in this regard. What does the gaming future hold after the current generation? Who knows? But without major innovations and a return to focusing on game play above all else, the future looks grim to this writer.