Even if you weren’t interested, there was no escaping video games by the turn of the decade. Atari had company at home, while arcades were bulging with new and exciting games that delivered whole new concepts, and a very hungry yellow thing…
On May 22 a new star was born. Yellow, rotund and with a voracious appetite for dots and assorted foodstuffs – oh, and blue ghosts – Pac-Man (nee Puck Man, but that was too easily altered…) became an instant sensation. Namco’s aim to create a game with mass appeal paid off, and it has since become the highest-grossing arcade game ever (plus it introduced cutscenes – yay?)
When Nintendo game designer Gunpei Yokoi created the first handheld video game, we doubt he knew how big they’d become. Sure, the Game & Watch only boasted a 4-bit brain, but from the initial Ball through to 1991’s widescreen Mario the Juggler, they were fiendishly addictive – and sold over 43 million units worldwide before Game Boy took over.
“You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.” So began the home computer interactive fiction genre, with Zork I: The Great Underground Empire. Wholly text-based, it pushed players to exercise their imaginations, while also trying to solve often infuriating puzzles.