The History of Video Games: 11 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know: Page 5 of 11

A journey through the ages!
A journey through the ages!

5. 1980 - 1982:

The Golden Age of Arcade Video Games, the Emergence of the Mascots

The early 1980s were interesting times indeed for video gaming. Gamers were pouring millions of dollars into arcade machines, the Atari 2600 faced stiff competition, and the burgeoning popularity of games meant that each title needed an identity to separate itself from its competitors more than ever – which gave rise to the first video game mascots.

In 1980, Pac-Man was released in arcades worldwide. Created by Toru Iwatani of Namco, the game was an instant hit, and solidified its titular character’s place in gaming history as the first original video game mascot. That same year, Pac-Man would be unveiled for the Atari 2600, making it the first arcade title to have a home console port.

In 1980, Mattel debuted its own home console, Intellivision, which retailed for $299. It would become the Atari 2600’s first true competitor.

1980 also saw the launch of the first 3D game ever, Battlezone. In this arcade game, players battled tanks in a monochromatic, polygonal world.

1980’s arcade game, Space Panic, was the first platform game ever created.

Meanwhile, on computers, RPGs were on the rise with the release of pioneering classics such as 1980’s Akalabeth: World of Doom. This would eventually mutate into Richard Garriott’s revered Ultima series.

In 1980, college students Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman created the game Rogue for Unix systems. This dungeon crawler featured procedurally generated areas and items, and would go on to inspire the roguelike genre and future action RPGs like Diablo.

The first historical war game for personal computers was released in 1980 – Strategic Simulations’ Computer Bismarck. The early 1980s would see a proliferation of strategy games, with many exploring various subjects and gameplay features.

The first entry in the Ultima series, Ultima 1: The First Age of Darkness, was released for personal computers in 1981.

Atari held the Space Invaders Championship competition in 1981. Attracting some 10,000 participants from all over the US, it was the first massive video game tournament in history. Competitive gaming would become more common as a result.

The first stealth game was released by Sega in 1981. It was an arcade game called 005, in which players assumed the role of a spy who had to deliver a briefcase to a helicopter without getting caught. This meant hiding in boxes and evading flashlights.

1981 was the year Electronic Games – the very first magazine dedicated entirely to video games – was born.

Nintendo would surprise the world in 1981 with the stellar success of Donkey Kong. This arcade game produced two more popular mascots in the form of the eponymous Donkey Kong, and Jumpman, whom the world would later know as Mario. Both characters were created by the now legendary Shigeru Miyamoto.

Utopia, a strategy game for the Intellivision, was the first true construction and management simulation game.

In 1981, a Pac-Man-like game called Ms. Ladybug was released. She was gaming’s first female protagonist.

Later in 1981, Ms. Pac-Man was released, replacing Pac-Man as the top-selling title in the history of arcade gaming. Ms. Pac-Man would become gaming's most important early heroines.

In 1982, the console war heated up when Coleco debuted the Colecovision. This home console was more powerful than the Atari 2600, and delivered a truer arcade experience than its competition. To meet this new threat head-on, Atari launched the Atari 5200 later in the same year.

1982 would be the birth of another renowned computer RPG franchise, Wizardry.

Japan would create its very first RPGs, one of the earliest being The Dragon and the Princess for personal computers, in 1982.

1982 was also the year personal computers had the first adventure game with graphics in the form of Mystery House.

Writer, Gamer, Dreamer
Gamer Since: 1986
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Bloodborne, Mortal Kombat X, Tera Online
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls II, Bioshock Infinite, Dragon Age: Inquisition
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