The Evolution of Video Games: From "Pong" to Virtual Realities

Racing gaming rig set up

Nestled within the enchanting realm of our Wright Farms branch, step into a world of gaming as you enter The Studio. Our current focus is centered around an array of video games with a variety of experiences that we invite you to participate in. From our cutting-edge PlayStation 5 VR racing setup to a diverse selection of Nintendo Switch games and programs, we have gaming wonders for all to enjoy. If you happen to stop into Anythink Wright Farms, we extend a warm invitation to come and explore what's new! 

Because of this current focus, it seemed as good a time as any to look at the evolution of gaming and just how far it has come. Video games have come a long way since their humble beginnings. From simple black and white pixelated screens, all the way to immersive virtual worlds, the evolution of video games has been nothing short of extraordinary. Let's look at this journey, from the pioneering days of “Pong” to the visually stunning (and sometimes slightly terrifying) technologies of virtual and augmented realities, we can look at how they have shaped the way we play, interact and experience digital entertainment... and the differing ways we all have too, across different generations of players. 

Where It All Started: Pong and the Arcade Era 

The video game revolution kicked off in the early 1970s with the release of "Pong" in 1972. “Pong,” a simple tennis-style game, allowed players to control paddles and bounce a ball back and forth on a two-dimensional screen. While not the first video game ever created, it is cited by many museums as the first one to capture major public attention. It became an overnight sensation and paved the way for the rise of arcades in the late 70s and early 80s. Classic arcade titles like “Space Invaders,” “Pac-Man,” and “Donkey Kong” became cultural phenomena, captivating the attention, focus and imagination of an entire generation of kids. Arcades were a popular hangout spot for a variety of ages and were just cost effective enough to be welcoming to all, if you had the time and/or a ride to get to your local game hub. 

The Almost Downfall: The Nintendo and Sega Revolution 

In the mid-1980s, the United States was hit with a recession that almost took the entire gaming industry out. Many gaming companies went bankrupt and stopped making games entirely; others just lost the general interest of their fans to the new wave of technology, the computer. While many news outlets declared the fad to be over, there were a few companies still kicking that were determined to keep their community engaged. Thus, the home video game console industry took center stage. Companies like Nintendo and Sega introduced their gaming systems, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), respectively. These consoles brought arcade-quality gaming into people's living rooms or home computers, allowing for a more personalized and accessible gaming experience. Iconic characters like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog became household names and laid the foundation for future gaming franchises that are still going strong to this day! While these offered a closer-to-home experience, there was still an uphill battle to be faced in making games accessible to a broader group, rather than just the small population that could afford them.

The Transition to 3D Gaming: The 90s and Home Consoles

The 90s were a remarkable milestone in the history of video games, not only becoming the highest grossing period thus far, but also ushering in a clearer vision for the potential of gaming thanks to technological advancements. Throughout this decade, there was a significant shift from traditional 2D graphics to fully immersive 3D graphics, revolutionizing the gaming landscape. While arcades were still enjoyed during this era, the rise of classic household gaming consoles like the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, would soon lead to their decline. As more and more players sought the convenience and entertainment of gaming from the comfort of their homes, the 90s undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the gaming industry, setting the stage for the incredible innovations that continue to shape the world of gaming today. 

The Now: Online Gaming and the Multiplayer Revolution 

As internet technology became more widespread, online gaming emerged as a major turning point in the evolution of video games. Titles like “Quake” and “Counterstrike” popularized online multiplayer games, allowing players to connect and compete with other gamers from around the world or even just their friends who lived across town. The rise of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like “World of Warcraft,” “Fortnite” and “Roblox” further solidified the importance of online interactions in the gaming community.

As the games began to change and evolve, so did the systems they were being played on. Newer and newer versions of consoles were released and played with the bigger and better of graphics or compatibilities. The most notable to date are the Xbox (on its 9th version starting from 2001), the PlayStation (5th version, starting in 1994), and the Nintendo (8 at-home consoles and various portable devices released since 1984).

Mobile Gaming: Games on the Go

With the advent of smartphones and mobile devices, gaming became more accessible than ever before. Mobile gaming introduced a new wave of casual gamers to the industry. Simple yet addictive games like “Angry Birds” and “Candy Crush Saga” gained massive popularity and reached audiences beyond traditional gamers. Mobile gaming has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, proving that gaming is no longer confined to consoles or PCs or the high price tag of some of the newest technologies. 

The Future: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

The last decade has witnessed incredible advancements in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. VR headsets like the Oculus Rift (which you can come try out in The Studio) and HTC Vive offer a truly immersive gaming experience, transporting players to fantastical worlds where they can interact with environments and characters like never before. AR, on the other hand, enhances the real world with digital elements, as demonstrated by the global phenomenon “Pokémon GO,” which immerses the player in a less physical way.

As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it is essential to remember and appreciate the roots of video games, the classics that laid the foundation for everything that followed. From the pioneers of the arcade era to the groundbreaking advancements in VR and AR, the evolution of video games has been an incredible journey that continues to captivate and inspire players of all ages. So, whether you're a die-hard gamer or a casual player, the world of video games has something extraordinary to offer to everyone.


Check out these and a variety of other amazing resources using your Anythink card, and don't forget to drop in and visit us in The Studio! 


If you want to learn more about video games: 

Video Games: The Movie

Inside Video Games


"The Ultimate History of Video Games VOL. 2"


Are interested in making video games: 

Coding in Video Games

Slay the Dragon: Writing Great Video Games

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

"Making Video Games: The Art of Creating Digital Worlds"


Or you're just here for more fun: 

Favorite Toys: Video Games

"Video Game Trivia"

No Avatars Allowed: Theological Reflections on Video Games

The Video Game Quiz Book

"100 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up"

The Little Book of Video Games: 70 classics that everyone should know and play


Drop your favorite or most nostalgic games in the comments or share a memory or hope that came up as you took this walk down games of past, future, and present!


I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with an Apple computer in the early 80s - I remember playing Space Eggs, Load Runner, Olympic Decathlon, and Chivalry. A arcade favorite was Joust. Good memories, thanks for taking me back!