Evolution of gaming

Suzi Starheim

Video games may have changed, but players are still addicted

Graduate student Evan Middleton can spend about 20 hours a week playing video games.

Middleton joins millions of others online daily to play first-person shooter games like Halo and Fallout 3 on Xbox LIVE.

Only half a century ago, video games couldn’t be transported like they can with the Nintendo DS, and they surely couldn’t be downloaded to the game console – mainly because the Internet didn’t exist yet.





1977-Atari 2600



1985-Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)



1991-Super NES

1994-Sega Saturn


1996-Nintendo 64

1998-Sega Dreamcast

2000-Playstation 2

2001-Nintendo GameCube


2002-GameBoy Advance

2004-Nintendo DS

2005-PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Xbox 360

2006-Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3

While live play and downloaded games have brought more customers into the video game market, Caleb Zagar, floor manager of The Exchange in Kent, also said it will change pricing in video game cosignment stores like the one he manages.

Zagar said the change in graphics, content and game systems has greatly affected the way stores such as The Exchange buy and sell merchandise.

“Our store depends on hard copies, so this downloading and buying games on these systems will do strange things to pricing,” Zagar said.

Middleton said while the price of game consoles has risen heavily as they have evolved technologically, he hasn’t noticed rising game prices, especially at stores that specialize in selling games.

“My brother and I paid around $56 for a Sega game a few years after it came out and today I still only pay around $59.99 for an Xbox 360 game,” Middleton said.

Zagar said The Exchange typically sells copies of old games for about twice as much as they sell new games. He said the higher prices on these older games is because of limited availability and collectors who are willing to drop loads of money on classic games.

“The demand for old games really hasn’t gone away,” Zagar said. “People are willing to pay the extra $10 or $15 for the classic games.”

English instructor Barbara Karman said while her work in gaming and education is not concerned with the price of game systems, she uses elements of gaming in providing content or supplemental instruction for her Introduction to Linguistics courses.

“The virtual environment provides meaningful and interactive access to the material,” Karman said. “The students use the virtual environment Second Life to access and use supplemental material on phonology.”

Zagar said graphics and the conversion to all-campaign play games to live-play games have also had a heavy influence in the video game market.

“When they came out with the newer graphically capable systems, a lot of companies felt that they had to come out with full 3-D models,” Zagar said. “Originally, the 3-D models were chunky and blocky looking and the systems weren’t really ready for it.”

Middleton said he notices the differences in graphics frequently as well, but he doesn’t necessarily feel graphics have gotten too close to real, even in sports games where he can see sweat dripping down characters’ faces.

“It usually looks realistic, but you can always tell people are fake in the games,” Middleton said. “It’s close to real, but there is something different about it.”

Live play also brought a lot of people into the gaming world who wouldn’t have been into the industry before, Zagar said. He said this is partially because live play has changed graphics in a way game developers can reissue games they have already done without having a huge group of game developers behind them.

Middleton said the main difference he noticed since the release of live play games is in the way friends schedule to play together.

“With Halo one, you had 15 or 20 people playing together in one room and you had to plan to meet there together,” Middleton said. “Now you don’t all have to be in one room to schedule a gaming session.”

Middleton said he is often asked why he wastes so much time playing video games.

“I tell them video games are just like reading a book,” Middleton said. “You choose your own adventure. You choose what you want to do when you want to do it. It’s just on your television instead of on pages.”

Contact news correspondent Suzi Starheim at [email protected].