For as long as humans have been wandering the earth, they’ve been trying to find new ways to entertain themselves. Sure food, water, and shelter will get you through the day, but what is life without a little fun?
Prehistoric gamers utilized tools like bones and shells to aid them in gameplay, and simple games like jacks and dice are some of the earliest known gaming types.
Today games may have become a bit more sophisticated, but at their core the same principles still apply – challenge your mind, take on competitors, and most of all – have fun!
The competition starts at 11 AM ET on 3/9 and runs for 48 hours. But first, let’s find out a little more about our two teams!
Tried and tested
Though not quite as old as simple dice games, board games have been around for quite awhile, and are still going strong today!
One of the earliest known board games was game of Senet, found in Predynastic and First Dynasty burial sites in Egypt, and in hieroglyphs dating to around 3100 BCE. The game consisted of a board with 30 squares arranged in 3 rows of 10. It seems to have been a 2 player game, with at least 5 pawns per player (though sometimes more). Historians debate over the exact rules of the game, and like many things it’s likely that the rules changed over time.
Stakes were somewhat higher when playing Senet than they are in modern board games, considering ancient Egyptians believed strongly in fate, and success in the game was thought to be strongly tied to protection by the gods!
Board games often morph over time, or fall in and out of favor. But some games have had long standing success in their ability to captivate and entertain!
Backgammon is one of the longest running games that is still played in modern times, but coming in with an even longer track record was the Royal Game of Ur, another game dating from the 3000s. Ur, a two-player strategy racing game, was popular in ancient Mesopotamia, and a version of the game called Aasha was still being played in Kochi, India, as late as the 1950s.
Have you ever wanted to table flip the entire board after a night of Monopoly with the family? There’s actually a reason for that!
Monopoly is actually an evolution of “The Landlord’s Game,” a board game created by one of America’s first board game designers, Lizzie Magie, in 1904. Magie’s game was based on the economic principles of Georgism, and was designed to show how landgrabbing enriched owners and impoverished renters. It was designed to provoke a sense of this system’s unfairness in the children who played it, with the hope that they would take such lessons to heart as they grew older. So the table-flip rage you sometimes feel at family fun night isn’t a fluke, it’s just part of the game!
Magie sold Monopoly to the Parker Brothers in 1935 for $500, and it became their cash cow, launching them into the financial success their company would enjoy for over 100 years!
A digital revolution
The first electronic digital computers, Colossus and ENIAC, were built during World War II to aid the Allied war effort. After the war computer program architectures stored at universities in the UK and US allowed computers to be reprogrammed for other tasks, which facilitated commercialization and the adoption of computers by universities, government organizations, and large corporations as the decade progressed.
Of course, computers could be more than purely functional! Not too long after the technological explosion brought on by these machines, the first computer games were born.
Early computer games were designed to demonstrate the power of these new machines, but perhaps the first game created solely for entertainment was William Higinbotham’s “Tennis for Two,” which allowed the player to bounce a virtual tennis ball (a point of light) over a virtual net (a vertical line) using a controller.
As computers became more sophisticated, so too did the games people played on them!
Pong, a game in which featured 2 lines and a white square as its main visuals, was the first arcade video game to receive wide commercial success.
From there we had an explosion of arcade consoles in the late 70s and early 80s, as well as the rise of home consoles.
The popularity of arcade games eventually fizzled out, but home consoles kept going strong. 8-bit games that still maintain legendary franchise status such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda were released by Nintendo in the late 80s.
Home gaming continued to rise in popularity throughout the 90s, and new technologies led to games with increasingly impressive visuals, with games incorporating 3D graphics by the mid-90s.
Modern video games use new techniques to immerse the player into the experience. Games that incorporate AR and VR allow the player to use their body to interact in a more natural way with the virtual world, rather than just by mashing buttons on a stationary controller.
As computer technology continues to advance, video games will certainly follow suit! We can only imagine what the next evolution of gaming will be!
For most people video games are just a hobby, but for a select few they can turn into a lucrative career! Esports have exploded in recent years, with top players cashing in on millions of dollars in prize money.
Championship matches can bring in arenas of tens of thousands of people, with online audiences in the millions! And they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
If you have your sights set on a future of gaming as a profession, team video games may be the one for you!
Games Games Games
Do you appreciate physical media and tactile pawns? Do you like having a chat with a few friends around a nice cardboard square, and being able to watch the hope fade from their eyes as you completely dominate the competition? Do you like a cerebral challenge with a bit of luck thrown in?
Or would you rather immerse yourself into a virtual world of 3D graphics and quick reflexes? Do you like gathering around a glowing monitor with your friends, or shouting colorful phrases at strangers from across the globe?
Both board and video games have their merits, but at the end of the day only one can come out on top! Pick your team and game for the games! Gameception!
For fun, for games, for science!