Early Computer Games
A game is a well-defined type of organized, often planned play, sometimes employed for fun or entertainment, and occasionally used as a teaching tool. Games are different from work, which usually is carried out to remunerate, and from literature, which is more generally an expression of personal or aesthetic ideas. In work, production is the motive behind the creation of the work, whereas in a game, the point of play is to derive amusement. There is considerable overlap between the two types of play–verbal and non-verbal communication–but the term game is frequently applied to any game that generates an element of challenge and amusement.
Board games have been around since ancient times, providing humans with an entertaining way to pass the time and pass the physical necessities. Many early civilizations produced their own versions of games, most likely using simple materials, such as pebbles, stones, and small pieces called ‘racetrack’ to represent shapes, objects, or other items that were used in a game of capture, race, or battle. This early use of board games, combined with the idea that the mind could be refreshed by controlled chaos, has given rise to several of the conventions of modern board games, particularly the computer game. Early advocates of the idea of using a game as a leisure activity were, of course, preoccupied with creating games that could be easily played by a single person; these early games were often very simple affairs, using simple sets of rules, with simple, plastic playing pieces.
However, as civilizations developed more complex societies, the playing pieces and rules may have been increased in complexity, with more complex objects being used to represent more complicated objects, often animals, on a grid of squares. The development of mathematics and counting became popular among this group of designers, who appreciated the importance of a game theory–a system of simple rules, with each square representing an object, in order to create a simple game. The first real games developed in Europe during the Middle Ages, based on a variant of game theory. The game theory involved a simple game of capture, as groups of warriors would race to ‘capture’ other groups of warriors, who were designated as ‘capturers’. If a group was able to capture a group of ‘capture’ squares, they would win the game.
The Capture the Flag game, which was first printed in a set of twenty-four paddles and became known as Monopoly, is often used as a model for similar games, such as Risk, because it is so simple. Many computer games using this model have become popular. As technology advanced, more complex game play was required to support the needs of the growing number of players. A major advance in game design was introduced with the introduction of programming language for the computer game programmer. In particular, a language called BASIC was used, which stands for Basic American System of Procedure.
BASIC is very simple to use, but the advantages of its design made it the programming language of choice for many computer games. Computer games developed with the use of programming language are often referred to as ‘video games’. Chris Crawford, one of the leading figures in the video game design industry, was responsible for the programming of one of the earliest examples of a video game, called Space Invaders. This game is still played around the world.
Today, video games are used in a number of different ways, from playing games online, to playing single player games, to multiplayer (local) game play. A new type of board game has also been developed, using a variant of the simple capture the flag game concept. This game called Colonization is being played around the world, in countries as far away as Australia and Spain. Chris Crawford, today a well-known designer of computer games, is believed to be the person who first came up with the idea for this game.