Welcome to This Week in Gaming, where we take a look back at some of the most newsworthy events in gaming history from last year to even decades ago that happened this very week. Take a gander at some of the highlights and see which spark nostalgia and which may still be news to you.
id’s Your Birthday
August 20, 1970
Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the industry’s greatest contributors. He is John Carmack, co-founder of id Software. John’s first involvement with electronics ended with him on the wrong side of the law for stealing school computers. It must have been fate, because ever since he’s been a programmer, developer and director for some of the company’s major titles such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. He invented new graphics techniques and engine builds used in games by other companies. John is a generous person giving away source codes to some games as well as donating a number of charities. He has been named one of the most influential people of all time, top 100 innovators and recipient of the GDC Lifetime Achievement award. John may have gotten himself mixed up with the wrong people earlier in life but he’s contributed more than enough time, effort and goodwill to make up for it.
A Shock to Our Systems
August 21, 2007
First-person RPG games really took off in the late 2000s. Oblivion was the top title until BioShock made its debut. You play as Jack, a lone plane crash survivor who ends up in the underwater city of Rapture. Jack begins walking around only to encounter a number of oddities including deranged citizens, infected little girl, possessed diving suits and he even gains supernatural abilities. It’s a mixture of science fiction, wartime propaganda and corrupt politics. Besides all that, BioShock brings emotional attachment to the storyline. It makes you care about the characters and their lives. The game has high scores all across the board and won Game of the Year from several outlets. In three years, BioShock sold over 4 million copies and has since been recognized by the Smithsonian for its extraordinary artistic direction.
Super Sweet Sixteen
August 23, 1991
No spoiled rich kids on MTV here. This is about the arrival of the Super Nintendo to North America. That sweet, 16-bit system crossed the sea and had an immediate hold of the market. In head-to-head competition with Sega, Nintendo took the lead and never looked back. The console retailed a tiny bit higher than the Sega Genesis, but the cost was worth it. The amount of popular and well-received titles for the SNES was through the roof. You had Super Mario World, F-Zero, Secret of Mana, Donkey Kong Country and tons more; many of which were the console’s best-selling games. Over 23 million units of the console were sold in North America and left its mark in gaming history by providing advanced gameplay and mechanics for its time.
Gearing Up for a Golden Birthday
August 24, 1964
Metal Gear and the world of video games would not be as illustrious as it is today without the contributions of Hideo Kojima. Born in Tokyo, Hideo moved around a lot as a child and sought comfort by watching television, movies and playing Nintendo’s Famicom system. In college he decided to pursue a career in video games and found work as designer/planner for Konami’s home computer department. After working on a couple of lesser-known games he became disappointed with his position. He was a trouper and after some time was given a project to lead– Metal Gear. Hideo developed the game and established its franchise. It was the earliest title under the stealth genre. Sequels were created and the series is still a massive success. Hideo was named one of the hottest developers of 2008, awarded an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award and another from the 2009 GDC. We wish you a Otanjoubi Omedetou on your 50th birthday.
Turning Up The Heat
August 24, 1996
Former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington left the company to pursue a new endeavor. The two founded Valve Corporation and would become well-known for its games and business. Their first title, after acquiring the Quake engine license from pals at id Software, was the critically acclaimed Half-Life. The crew gained a following and began work on sequels as well as new titles. Some of their other hits include Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike. In 2002, Valve announced their online game market Steam. Players can purchase expansions, add-ons, even download entire games. The marketplace has been popular as of late with an enormous library of indie games and blockbuster titles as well as constant huge sales. Valve has continuously made smart decisions benefiting everyone but mainly us gamers.