HomeTechnologyEntertainmentEarly Gaming History: What Was the First Video Game?

Early Gaming History: What Was the First Video Game?

Video games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. But what is the first video game ever created? The answer to that question is not as simple as you might think. The definition of a video game can be quite ambiguous, and there are several games that could lay claim to the title of “first video game.” In this article, we will explore the history of video games and discuss which game deserves the title of “first.”

What defines a video game?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the definition of a video game can vary depending on who you ask. However, there are some common elements that most people would agree make up a video game. Generally, a video game involves using some sort of electronic device to interact with an on-screen image. The interaction can be as simple as pressing a button to make something happen on the screen, or it can be more complex, such as using a joystick to control a character in the game.

Some people might also argue that video games must be interactive in order for them to qualify as such. This means that the player must have some control over what happens in the game and that there must be some sort of goal or objective to achieve. However, there are some games that could be considered “non-interactive” video games, such as those that are purely visual or auditory in nature.

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the contenders for the title of “first video game.”

Tennis for Two by William Higinbotham

First Video Game - Tennis For Two on a DuMont Lab Oscilloscope Type 304-A
Tennis For Two on a DuMont Lab Oscilloscope Type 304-A (Image: Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) / Wikimedia Commons)

One of the earliest examples of a video game is “Tennis for Two,” which was created in 1958. This game was played on an oscilloscope and used two controllers that were attached to the device. While “Tennis for Two” is not technically a video game by today’s standards, it is considered to be one of the earliest examples of interactive electronic entertainment.

A reproduced version of the game, built at Brookhaven for the game’s 25th anniversary (Video: William Hunter / Wikimedia Commons)

OXO by A S Douglas

OXO played in an EDSAC simulator for the Classic Mac OS
OXO played in an EDSAC simulator for the Classic Mac OS (Image: Matan2001 / Wikimedia Commons)

In 1962, a man named A.S. Douglas created a program called “OXO” for the EDSAC computer. “OXO” was a simple tic-tac-toe game that could be played by two people. Douglas programmed the game as part of a thesis about human-computer interaction at the University of Cambridge. This game is often credited as being the first video game that allowed two players to compete against each other. While the screenshot suggests a small setup, the actual hardware required to run this game was far from being used in home entertainment.

The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator in 1948
The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) in 1948 (Image: Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge / Wikimedia Commons)

Magnavox Odyssey by Sanders Associates

Table Tennis game for the Odyssey on a CRT television, without any overlay
Table Tennis game for the Odyssey on a CRT television, without any overlay (Image: Magnavox / Wikimedia Commons)

The first commercially available video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey, which was released in 1972. This system came with a handful of games, including one that allowed users to simulate a tennis match. The Odyssey is also notable for being the first home video game console that could be connected to a television.

A Magnavox Odyssey and one of its two controllers
A Magnavox Odyssey and one of its two controllers (Image: Evan Amos / Wikimedia Commons)

Computer Space

Single-player Computer Space gameplay; the player's rocket is in the center, with the flying saucers on the right above and below the player score, computer score, and time remaining.
Single-player Computer Space gameplay; the player’s rocket is in the center, with the flying saucers on the right above and below the player score, computer score, and time remaining. (Image: Syzygy Engineering, Nutting Associates / Wikimedia Commons)

The first arcade video game is often cited as being “Computer Space” from 1971. This game was created by Nolan Bushnell, who would go on to found the company Atari. “Computer Space” was a space-themed game that was played on a dedicated console. It is widely considered to be the first commercially successful arcade video game.

Computer Space control panel
Computer Space control panel (Image: Gaetan Lee / Wikimedia Commons)

Conclusion

There are several other games that could lay claim to the title of “first video game.” However, the games listed above are some of the most widely recognized and accepted as being pioneering titles in the history of video gaming. What is clear is that the history of video games is long and storied, with many important milestones along the way. The first video game is a title that will likely be debated for years to come.

However, there can be no doubt that the games listed above have made a significant impact on the world of gaming and home entertainment. Did the developers back then have any idea of what they were about to do when they tinkered on these projects? Who could ever anticipate that gaming would become a major industry in the entertainment sector and finally a lifestyle for many of us? The research for this article has truly amazed me, and I hope you also enjoyed reading it.

If you like to delve more into the history of video games, make sure to also watch the YouTube video below by Dagogo Altraide from the ColdFusion channel for more insights.


YouTube: Early Video Game History (1948 – 1972)

Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Allan Swart. The credit for all other images has been placed right beneath the photos.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)

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