The Timeline of Videogame Writing & Criticism

  • Spacewar! released

    Spacewar!, according to The Video Game Theory Reader, is considered to be the first real video game. It wasn't, however, a commercial game.
  • Computer Space released

    According to The Video Game Theory Reader, this was the first commercial video game.
  • The Magnavox Oddysey home game system released

    This was the first home game system to be released to the public.
  • Period: to

    The Home Gaming Era

    With the release of Magnavox Oddysey in 1972, people could play games in their homes rather than rely upon arcade and coin-slot machines. Other manufacturers such as Atari and Nintendo followed suit, with consoles becoming more sophisticated as time wore on. New consoles are still being developed today, where the market is now dominated by the 'big three' - Sony (playstation), Nintendo (Wii), and Microsoft (XBOX)
  • PONG released - the first commercially successful 'hit' video game

  • Play Meter trade journal launched

    This was the first of several trade journals which appeared for coin-op arcade owners in the mid to late '70s
  • Milton Bradley's 'Simon' and Parker Bros' 'Merlin' released

    These two games can be classified as electronic, but they didn't incorporate a visual element beyond blinking lights. As such, they can't really be classified as video games.
  • A. G. Bell, 'Games Playing With Computers' published

    Bell's book, along with a similar title by Donald D. Spencer released the same year, is tailored towards the computer programming community, yet Bell also makes a tentative prediction about the future of videogames and their assimilation into our everyday lives.
  • Warren Robinett's 'Adventure' game for Atari 2600 released

    Robinett adapted the existing all-text game Adventure into a graphical game for the Atari 2600. The game contains a variety of firsts for the medium, such as the use of cinematic conventions to orient the player, the first 'easter egg', and the first use of multiple screens that cut from one to the next.
  • George Sullivan's 'Screen Play: The Story of Video Games' published - the first history of video games

    This was the first 'history' of the medium which was published, however Sullivan's book was very short and tailored to juvenile readers rather than adults.
  • G & F Loftus' 'Mind at Play: The Psychology of Video Games' published

    This book began the tradition of video games as object of psychological study and tool, along with Patricia Marks Greenfield's 'Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Computers and Video Games (1984)
  • Period: to

    The Videogame Theory Era

    1983 saw the first histories of videogames being published, and other more theoretical and analytical publications followed. The medium had achieved both a popularity and maturity that meant critical writing was relevant.
  • Leonard Herman's 'Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Home Video Games' published

    'Phoenix...' was the first history of video games published for adults, and was initially self-published because no commercial publisher could be found.
  • Chris Crawford, 'The Art of Computer Game Design' published

    Crawford's book was the first devoted to theorising about video games, and its central premise was that computer games were a new but as-yet undeveloped art form which held great promise for both designers and players.
  • NES released

  • Period: to

    Hot Circuits: A Video Arcade exhibition

    This exhibition was held at the American Museum of the Moving Image, and was seen by some as both questionable and controversial.
  • Marsha Kinder's 'Playing With Power' published

    This book was one of the first to treat video games on a par with other media and looked at connections between them. Instead of treating video games as a marginal form of new media, Kinder regarded them as a cultural object that fit into a larger socio-economic context.

  • Period: to

    The CD-ROM Era

    CD-ROM based games were released in 1992, and their increased capacity meant games could become more complex and graphics more sophisticated. CD-ROM games are still in use today, however many of the most complex new releases are now produced on the even larger capacity DVD-ROM discs.

    Doom and Myst were two landmark games released on CD-ROM, and can be partially held responsible for the medium's popularity. Doom was a fast-paced first person shooter set in dark hallways where aliens lurked around every corner. Myst, by contrast, was a slower RPG set amongst a lush landscape.
  • DigiPen opens in Canada, offering a computer game programming course

  • France declares video games an art form - Le Diberder brothers publish 'Qui a peur des jeux video?'

    This may only have been a declaration from two authors, but they wrote on video games as an art form and charted their development since the '70s.
  • Cahiers du Cinema published a leading article on video games

    France's famous and vastly influential journal Cahiers du Cinema welcomed video games into its remit with open arms in the mid '90s. Alain Le Diberder published his leading article in 1996 declaring video games to be the 'new frontier of cinema'.
  • Videotopia exhibition begins touring

    This travelling exhibition brought arcade games to museum audiences, and introduced classic games to a generation of players younger than the games themselves.
  • Espen Aarseth links videogames and hypertext in 'Cybertext:Perspectves on Ergodic Literature'

    Espen Aarseth made the connection between gamer and cybertext reader explicit here, and he also tried to show the ways in which 'games' and 'narratives' overlapped in their definition. Aarseth also later founded the website
  • Film Quarterly features its first essay on video games

  • The debate regarding gender and games arose with the anthology 'From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games'

    This anthology of essays, edited by Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins, adderessed the male-centric view of videogames and also looked at the girl-gamer phenomenon in relation to feminist theory and practise.
  • First Digital Art & Culture conference held

    The first conference was held at the University of Bergen, Norway. It would go on to be held annually in cities across the USA and Australia.
  • Writer Steve Poole pushed journalistic accounts of video games towards theory with 'Trigger Happy'

    Steve Poole, a writer and composer, bucked the trend for videogame journalism's sociological and pop culture perspective with 'Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Video Games'. He linked the inner life of the game to the inner life of the player, whose main response was aesthetic. The book was important because it incorporated theoretical elements from the work of thinkers like Adorno, Plato, Huizinga, and Wittgenstein.
  • Cahiers du Cinema dedicates special issue to videogames

    The Cahiers favoured narrative games with an affinity to cinema, but stated that video games no longer needed to imitate cinema to exist, because they 'propose hypotheses that cinema has never been able to formulate, as well as emotions of another nature'.
  • The Video Game Theory Reader is published

  • Period: to


  • Katie Salen & Erik Zimmerman's 'Rules of Play' published

  • Kieron Gillen publishes 'The New Games Journalism'

  • Keith Stuart writes 'State of Play:Is there a role for the New Games Journalism?'

  • Chuck Klosterman publishes 'The Lester Bangs of Videogames' in Esquire

  • HARDCASUAL announces New Games Journalism is dead

  • Chris Lepine responds to HARDCASUAL- 'New Games Journalism is Dead. Long Live New Games Journalism'

  • L B Jeffries writes a retrospective analysis of what the New Games Journalism achieved.