Not long after MIT got its first PDP-1 minicomputer in the fall of 1961, it became the platform for the first video game ever created. Spacewar! was designed and written by Steve Russel, and used vector graphics on a display similar to an oscilloscope. The video game as a concept is now more than 51 years old.
Gaming on computers has rocketed forward since, taking a lot of its cues from board games at first, then role playing games like the deathless Dungeons and Dragons, then on to fully immersive audio-visual experiences like Skyrim. But the growth went in two directions, not just one: not only have computer games become more and more realistic and richly detailed, but the platforms that can run them have gotten smaller and cheaper to the point where they’ll fit in your shirt pocket or purse.
If you dig through the app stores for your smart phone or tablet, you’ll see the past twenty years of console and desktop gaming reliving past glories in the form of newly rebuilt games, for a new audience. All iOS and Android devices support a version of OpenGL, a standard for programming 3D graphics.
A common thread through computer gaming from the beginning, though, is casino and gambling games,. You sort of skim over them looking for other things, but there are a prodigious number of them, constituting a market segment hidden in plain sight. Everybody knows these games are out there, but not everybody realizes just how big a chunk of the market they represent. And with the rise of on-line gambling sites like JackpotCity and the popularity of casino games on mobile platforms, this type of gaming is hitting a boom period.
The advances in smartphones by companies like Apple and Samsung have made the gaming experience better for users, thus making an increase in consumers playing the games. The infographic to the right highlights this change for the gaming industry.
As you can see, the use of mobile devices is experiencing some explosive growth. They’re part of the Internet of Things, and there are currently far more phone numbers and IP addresses than there are people. Surprisingly, only about 24% of the mobile devices are iOS, the vast majority of them being Android. Sorry, Apple fans, but the tide turned last year.
Another surprising statistic, as you can see in the infographic, is that most mobile gamers are female, not male. If you think about it, this makes sense. (In the interests of journalistic integrity, JackpotCity did pay us to use their infographic, but it fits our article pretty well anyway.) Mobile platforms tend not to lend themselves as well to 3D shooters or RPG’s, which are the main attractant to the male gaming consumer. Instead, you have pattern or puzzle games which can be played in idle moments, a little at a time, without too much of a personal investment. People tend not to sit down with their phones for an evening of quality gaming experience – not yet anyway. And naturally, card and casino games fit into this scenario quite well.
Phones keep getting bigger, though, and more capable. The HTC Droid DNA was the first smart phone to feature full 1080p HD resolution on its surprisingly large screen, and borders on being what’s informally called a “phablet”, or a phone that’s so big it might as well be a tablet.
High fidelity 3D gaming will probably be more of a thing in the coming three years, with bigger and better devices coming out, but there’ll always be room for Blackjack.
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- Play the original Spacewar! on a PDP-1 emulator in your browser
- A browser version of the deathless Pong, one of the first video games ever created
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