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Gaming Entertainment Exhibit Gallery

Early history (1948–1970)

The history of video games began in the 1950s and 1960s as computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations on minicomputers and mainframes. Spacewar! was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student hobbyists in 1962 as one of the first such games on a video display. The first consumer video game hardware was released in the early 1970s. The first home video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey, and the first arcade video games were Computer Space and Pong. After its home console conversions, numerous companies sprang up to capture Pong's success in both the arcade and the home by cloning the game, causing a series of boom and bust cycles due to oversaturation and lack of innovation.


Spacewar! is credited as the first widely available and influential computer game. As early as 1950, computer scientists were using electronic machines to construct relatively simple game systems, such as Bertie the Brain in 1950 to play tic tac toe, or Nimrod in 1951 for playing Nim.

By the mid-1970s, low-cost programmable microprocessors replaced the discrete transistor–transistor logic circuitry of early hardware, and the first ROM cartridge-based home consoles arrived, including the Atari Video Computer System (VCS). Coupled with rapid growth in the golden age of arcade video games, including Space Invaders and Pac-Man, the home console market also flourished. The 1983 video game crash in the United States was characterized by a flood of too many games, often of poor or cloned qualities, and the sector saw competition from inexpensive personal computers and new types of games being developed for them. The crash prompted Japan's video game industry to take leadership of the market, which had only suffered minor impacts from the crash. Nintendo released its Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States in 1985, helping to rebound the failing video games sector. The latter part of the 1980s and early 1990s included video games driven by improvements and standardization in personal computers and the console war competition between Nintendo and Sega as they fought for market share in the United States. The first major handheld video game consoles appeared in the 1990s, led by Nintendo's Game Boy platform.

Raster to 3D CGI -1990's

In the early 1990s, advancements in microprocessor technology gave rise to real-time 3D polygonal graphic rendering in game consoles, as well as in PCs by way of graphics cards. Optical media via CD-ROMs began to be incorporated into personal computers and consoles, including Sony's fledgling PlayStation console line, pushing Sega out of the console hardware market while diminishing Nintendo's role. By the late 1990s, the Internet also gained widespread consumer use, and video games began incorporating online elements. Microsoft entered the console hardware market in the early 2000s with its Xbox line, fearing that Sony's PlayStation positioned as a game console and entertainment device, would displace personal computers. While Sony and Microsoft continued to develop hardware for comparable top-end console features, Nintendo opted to focus on innovative gameplay. Nintendo developed the Wii with motion-sensing controls, which helped to draw in non-traditional players and helped to resecure Nintendo's position in the industry; Nintendo followed this same model in the release of the Nintendo Switch.

From the 2000s and into the 2010s, the industry has seen a shift of demographics as mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets displaced handheld consoles, and casual gaming became an increasingly larger sector of the market, as well as a growth in the number of players from China and other areas not traditionally tied to the industry. To take advantage of these shifts, traditional revenue models were supplanted with ongoing revenue stream models such as free-to-play, freemium, and subscription-based games. As triple-A video game production became more costly and risk-averse, opportunities for more experimental and innovative independent game development grew over the 2000s and 2010s, aided by the popularity of mobile and casual gaming and the ease of digital distribution. Hardware and software technology continues to drive improvement in video games, with support for high-definition video at high framerates and for virtual and augmented reality-based games.

The 1990s were a decade of marked innovation in video games. It was a decade of transition from raster graphics to 3D graphics and gave rise to several genres of video games including first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and MMO. Handheld games become more popular throughout the decade, thanks in part to the release of the Game Boy in 1989.[97] Arcade games experienced a resurgence in the early-to-mid-1990s, followed by a decline in the late 1990s as home consoles became more common.

As arcade games declined, however, the home video game industry matured into a more mainstream form of entertainment in the 1990s, but their video games also became more and more controversial because of their violent nature, especially in games of Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and Doom, leading to the formation of the Interactive Digital Software Association and their rating games by signing them their ESRB ratings since 1994.[98] Major developments of the 1990s include the popularizing of 3D computer graphics using polygons (initially in arcades, followed by home consoles and computers), and the start of a larger consolidation of publishers, higher budget games, increased size of production teams, and collaborations with both the music and motion picture industries. Examples of this include Mark Hamill's involvement with Wing Commander III, the introduction of QSound with arcade system boards such as Capcom's CP System II, and the high production budgets of games such as Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII and Sega's Shenmue.

First-Person Shooter (FPS) - 1992

A first-person shooter (FPS) is a video game centered on gun fighting and other weapon-based combat seen from a first-person perspective, with the player experiencing the action directly through the eyes of the main character. This genre shares multiple common traits with other shooter games, which fall under the action games category. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have proven fundamental to allow a reasonable level of immersion in the game world, and this type of game helped push technology progressively further, challenging hardware developers worldwide to introduce numerous innovations in the field of graphics processing units. Multiplayer gaming has been an integral part of the experience and has become even more prominent with the diffusion of internet connectivity in recent years.

The first-person shooter genre has been traced back to Wolfenstein 3D (1992) which has been credited with creating the basic archetype upon which subsequent titles were based. One such title considered the progenitor of the genre's mainstream acceptance and popularity, was Doom (1993), often cited as the most influential game in this category; for years, the term "Doom clone" was used to designate this type of game, due to Doom's enormous success. Another common name for the genre in its early days was "corridor shooter", since processing limitations of that era's computer hardware meant that most of the action had to take place in enclosed areas, such as corridors and small rooms.

During the 1990s, the genre was one of the main cornerstones of technological advancements in computer graphics, starting with the release of Quake in 1996. Quake has been one of the first real-time 3D rendered video games in history and quickly became one of the most acclaimed shooter games of all time. Graphics accelerator hardware became essential to improve performances and add new effects such as full texture mapping, dynamic lighting, and particle processing to the 3D engines that powered the games of that period, such as the iconic id Tech 2, the first iteration of the Unreal engine, or the more versatile Build. Other seminal games were released during the years, with Marathon enhancing the narrative and puzzle elements, Duke Nukem 3D introducing voice acting, complete interactivity with the environment, and city-life settings to the genre, and games like Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and Counter-Strike starting to adopt a realistic and tactical approach aimed at simulating real life counter-terrorism situations. GoldenEye 007, released in 1997, was a landmark first-person shooter for home consoles, while the critical and commercial success of later titles like Perfect Dark, Medal of Honor, and the Halo series helped to heighten the appeal of this genre for the console market, straightening the road to the current tendency to release most titles as cross-platform as it happened to games in the Far Cry and Call of Duty series.

Ken Wasserman and Tim Stryker identified three factors which make networked computer games appealing:[3]

Wasserman and Stryker in 1980 described in BYTE how to network two Commodore PET computers with a cable. Their article includes a type-in, two-player Hangman, and describes the authors' more-sophisticated Flash Attack. Digital Equipment Corporation distributed another multi-user version of Star Trek, Decwar, without real-time screen updating; it was widely distributed to universities with DECsystem-10s. In 1981 Cliff Zimmerman wrote an homage to Star Trek in MACRO-10 for DECsystem-10s and -20s using VT100-series graphics. "VTtrek" pitted four Federation players against four Klingons in a three-dimensional universe.

Flight Simulator II, released in 1986 for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, allowed two players to connect via modem or serial cable and fly together in a shared environment.

MIDI Maze, an early first-person shooter released in 1987 for the Atari ST, featured network multiplay through a MIDI interface before Ethernet and Internet play became common. It is considered[by whom?] the first multiplayer 3D shooter on a mainstream system, and the first network multiplayer action-game (with support for up to 16 players). There followed ports to a number of platforms (including Game Boy and Super NES) in 1991 under the title Faceball 2000, making it one of the first handheld, multi-platform first-person shooters and an early console example of the genre.[5]

Networked multiplayer gaming modes are known as "netplay". The first popular video-game title with a Local Area Network(LAN) version, 1991's Spectre for the Apple Macintosh, featured AppleTalk support for up to eight players. Spectre's popularity was partially attributed to the display of a player's name above their cybertank. There followed 1993's Doom, whose first network version allowed four simultaneous players.

Play-by-email multiplayer games use email to communicate between computers. Other turn-based variations not requiring players to be online simultaneously are Play-by-post gaming and Play-by-Internet. Some online games are "massively multiplayer", with many players participating simultaneously. Two massively multiplayer genres are MMORPG (such as World of Warcraft or EverQuest) and MMORTS.

First-person shooters have become popular multiplayer games; Battlefield 1942 and Counter-Strike have little (or no) single-player gameplay. Developer and gaming site OMGPOP's library included multiplayer Flash games for the casual player until it was shut down in 2013. Some networked multiplayer games, including MUDs and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) such as RuneScape, omit a single-player mode. The largest MMO in 2008 was World of Warcraft, with over 10 million registered players worldwide. World of Warcraft would hit its peak at 12 million players two years later in 2010, and in 2020 earned the Guinness World Record for the best-selling MMO video game. This category of games requires multiple machines to connect via the Internet; before the Internet became popular, MUDs were played on time-sharing computer systems, and games like Doom were played on a LAN.

Beginning with the Sega NetLink in 1996, in 1997, and Dreamcast in 2000, game consoles support network gaming over LANs and the Internet. Many mobile phones and handheld consoles also offer wireless gaming with Bluetooth (or similar) technology. By the early 2010s online gaming had become a mainstay of console platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation. During the 2010s, as the number of Internet users increased, two new video game genres rapidly gained worldwide popularity – multiplayer online battle arena and battle royale game, both designed exclusively for multiplayer gameplay over the Internet.

Over time the number of people playing video games has increased. In 2020, the majority of households in the United States have an occupant who plays video games, and 65% of gamers play multiplayer games with others either online or in person.

Top Ten Computed Games 

10. Overwatch – 50 million

Blizzard’s hero shooter Overwatch sold 50 million copies, according to a Bloomberg report published in April 2022. Overwatch elevated the hero shooter genre with brilliant game design, thoughtfully crafted heroes, and continued esports support. In October of 2022, Overwatch was replaced by its free-to-play sequel, Overwatch 2.

9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 50 million+

The Witcher 3 was added to this list in May 2023 when CD Projekt Red announced its seminal RPG passed 50 million copies sold. Total sales for The Witcher series, meanwhile, sit at over 75 million.

The developer is now working on several games new Witcher games, including The Witcher 4 and a Witcher 1 remake.

8. Red Dead Redemption 2 – 55 million+

The most recently released game to earn a spot in the top ten is Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar’s western epic sold over 55 million copies by August, according to publisher Take-Two’s latest financial report.

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 60 million+

After years of silence regarding Skyrim's sales numbers, Bethesda's Todd Howard revealed in June 2023 that the RPG has sold over 60 million units since it was first released in 2011. "We’re sitting here, it’s 12 years after Skyrim," Howard told IGN. "We’re looking at a game that has over 60 million copies, and all these people playing… they’re still playing it."

Next up for Bethesda Game Studios is Starfield, its space-set RPG coming to Xbox and PC on September 6.

6. Mario Kart 8 + Deluxe – 63.92 million

With over 55 million copies sold as of June 30, 2023, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling Switch game, according to Nintendo. Factor in sales of the original Wii U release and that total rises to nealry 64 million, good for the sixth-best-selling game of all time. MK8 is unlikely to rise any higher on this list given the 11-million-unit sales gap between it and the next-best-selling game.

5. PUBG – 75 million

Given its critical role in the rising popularity of battle royale games over the last five years, it’s unsurprising that PUBG has been such a massive sales success. Krafton creative director Dave Curd told The Verge it has sold 75 million copies of PUBG as of December 2021. That will likely be the shooter’s final sales tally, as it went free to play a month later in January 2022.

While free mobile downloads don't count toward its sales total, it's worth noting PUBG Mobile had been downloaded over 1 billion times as of March 2021.

4. Wii Sports – 82.9 million

According to Nintendo's official sales figures, Wii Sports is the company's best-selling game ever. While most entries on this list were bundled with a console at some point, Wii Sports was bundled with the Wii in nearly all territories at launch. At nearly 83 million copies sold, it’s the top-selling single-platform exclusive of all time.

3. Grand Theft Auto V – 185 million+

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the best-selling console/PC-only game of all time (the top two entries on this list have mobile versions, too). Sales of Rockstar’s most ambitious GTA yet surpassed 185 million units as of August 2023. That number compiles the game’s sales totals from across three console generations and PC between 2013 and 2022.

GTA 5 was the fastest entertainment release across all mediums to reach $1 billion — and it’s since earned Rockstar and Take-Two billions more, making it the most profitable entertainment release ever, at least as of 2018.

2. Minecraft – 300 million+

Minecraft has sold over 300 million copies as of October 2023, Mojang announced during this year's Minecraft Live (via Windows Central). That figure captures the sales total across Minecraft's many platforms. With film, Netflix, education, toy, and many other projects completed or in the works, Minecraft has transcended the medium in a way few others have before it.

1. Tetris – 520 million

Arguably the most timeless video game ever created, Tetris sits comfortably atop the list of all-time bestsellers with 520 million copies sold, according to The Tetris Company. That number includes sales across all available platforms, with the majority coming from mobile (425 million paid mobile downloads as of 2014, according to Henk Rogers, The Tetris Company's managing director).

Tetris was initially released for the Soviet Union-developed Elektronika 60 computer, and variations of the classic puzzler have since been made for over 50 different platforms. Notably, it helped launch the Game Boy to success, eventually selling 35 million copies on Nintendo's handheld console.

Modern variations of the classic are still being released: Tetris Effect: Connected brought the puzzler to current-gen consoles with an emotional twist, while most recently, in 2020, SEGA released Puyo Puyo Tetris 2.

The Sword of Damocles   (head-mounted display and computer TX-2)    1966