The History of Video Games: 11 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know: Page 8 of 11

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

8. 1993 - 1996:

The FPS Boom, Video Game Violence, the 32/64-Bit Machines Cometh

For gaming, the years 1993 to 1996 were replete with profound technological innovations. They were also the years when video game violence caught the attention of everyone from the media to the government.

Starting from the early 1990s, personal computers began making extensive use of CD-ROMS and other graphics and sound-enhancing technologies. This meant games were boasting more sophisticated visuals, and voice acting to give life to their characters.

In 1992, id Sofware’s Wolfenstein 3D, a first-person shooter for personal computers, popularized fast-paced, first-person action. Its violence, however, raised a number of eyebrows, especially among video game detractors.

1993’s Myst was an adventure game for personal computers. It utilized beautiful, pre-rendered 3D graphics. The game would influence many genres, chief among them adventure and puzzle. Myst was also known for its exploration, and for the fact that it wasn’t aimed at children or adolescents, but an older, mainstream audience. For many years, it would remain the best-selling PC game.

Sierra On-Line’s The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery was another game that made full use of the new technology of the time. This 1993 game was both a point-and-click adventure and an interactive full motion movie.

In 1993, Sega’s revolutionary arcade title, Virtua Fighter, was the first fighting game to use purely 3D polygonal characters. The game would inspire other studios to develop their own 3D fighters, such as Tekken and Battle Arena Toshinden.

In 1992, Midway’s arcade game, Mortal Kombat, offered a gritty and unprecedentedly bloody alternative to Japan’s more colorful fighting games such as Street Fighter II. While Mortal Kombat was an astounding success, its ridiculous levels of violence unsettled everyone from parents to politicians. A probe into video game violence began, with at least one US senator lobbying for the banning of violent video games altogether.

It didn’t help that 1993’s Doom, another first-person shooter for personal computers, was just as ultra-bloody. It only gave the critics of video game violence more ammunition with which to attack the medium. Despite the vitriol hurled at Doom, the game was an extraordinary success, and caused an explosion of first-person shooters – many of which were Doom copycats.

In 1993, gamers witnessed the launch of the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, which cost between $399 and $699.

Later that same year, the first 64-bit machine, Atari’s Jaguar was released. It cost $249.99.

Though both the 3DO and Jaguar were responsible for ushering in the fifth generation of home consoles, they were not as successful as other fifth generation video game systems.

One of the biggest changes brought about by these fifth generation home consoles, however, was the move from the use of cartridges to CDs to run games. Games also started using more 3D polygonal graphics.

Then, in 1994, two 32-bit console giants were born: the Sega Saturn, which cost $399.99, and the Sony PlayStation, which cost $299.99 when it was launched in the US a year later. The PlayStation was Sony’s first foray into the gaming industry. Its unexpected, phenomenal success would be a prelude to Sony’s rise to the top of the gaming industry food chain. The PlayStation would eventually sell more than 102 million units worldwide.

The US Senate’s investigation of video game violence led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in 1994. For the first time in history, the packaging of games were labeled with age ratings to prevent children from playing titles with mature themes, such as violence and sex.

Blizzard Entertainment released the RTS classic, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994.

In 1995, Nintendo launched Nintendo 64 in Japan. In 1996, the console entered the US gaming market for the competitive price of $199.99. The success of both the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation would mark the beginning of the end for the Sega Saturn.

1996’s Super Mario 64 would revolutionize 3D action-adventure and platforming.

1996’s Tomb Raider for consoles and personal computers introduced gaming heroine Lara Croft to the world. While the title was lauded for its exciting gameplay and Lara Croft herself was elevated to the status of one of the most important video game characters ever made, many critics cited her as evidence of sexism in the industry. Tomb Raider was also responsible garnering interest in the third-person shooter genre.

Masaya Matsuura’s PaRappa the Rapper was released for the PlayStation in 1996 to become one of the most influential music rhythm games.

Blizzard released Diablo in 1996. Though not the first action RPG, its addictive “kill, loot, and level up” gameplay, gorgeous graphics, dark story, grim atmosphere, and ominous soundtrack made it a force to be reckoned with. It certainly helped that it boasted immense replayability courtesy of its procedurally generated dungeons and items. It raised the genre to new heights, and many clones would attempt to replicate its simple yet effective formula. It would also become one of the best-selling games of all time with over 30 million copies sold.

Blizzard also launched Battle.net, an online digital distribution platform, was connected directly to Diablo, making it one of the game’s biggest selling points.

Capcom released Bio Hazard, or Resident Evil, for the PlayStation. Its success would jumpstart the modern era of survival horror gaming.

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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