May 22, 1980
Namco’s upcoming game “Puck-Man” is location tested in a movie theater complex in Japan. After favorable initial testing, the game is slightly tweaked, with the most major change the renaming of the game to “Pac-Man”. Midway, Namco’s U.S. distributor, thought that vandals would alter the letter “P” to an “F”. While the game was not officially released until later in the year (October 10th in the US), the creators of the game consider May 22 to be Pac-Man’s birthday because it was the first time the game was shown to the general public.
One of the little known facts about Pac-Man is that it was specifically developed to be popular with women. Most video games of that time had a war or sports theme to them and women were generally not interested in those games. Pac-Mac would be the first game popular with both men and women and was the first video game to become a social phenomenon. Pac-Mac generated over $2.5 billion by the 1990’s, becoming one of the highest grossing video games of all time.
May 5, 1992
Id Software Inc. releases the game Wolfenstein 3D, the original first person shooter game for DOS computers. The game becomes an instant success, putting id Software on the map and launching the first person shooter genre. If you’re curious, you can play the game today on an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad.
March 18, 1974
Atari Introduces Gran Trak 10. It is the first arcade game to use solid state read-only memory (ROM) to store sprites for each car, the game timer, the race track, and the score. As such, it’s the the first game to have defined characters rather than mathematically manipulated dots. The game’s controls, which include a four-position gear shifter, a steering wheel, and two foot pedals, are also all firsts for arcade games.
February 4, 2000
EA releases The Sims, the best-selling PC game in history. I guess people like pretending to be other people!
January 29, 1988
The computer game Tetris makes its first appearance in the United States as a PC game. The company that released the game was Spectrum Holobyte, which had dubious licensing rights to the game. When companies became interested in licensing Tetris for other platforms besides the PC, a series of events kicked off a long legal battle, in which the big winner was eventually Nintendo, who used the game Tetris to drive sales of its new Game Boy platform.
Ralph Baer, generally considered the father of the video game industry, applies for a patent on a TV game system he designed. This patent eventually leads to the Magnavox Odssey, the first home video game machine. Ralph Baer is also well-known for many other products such as the electronic game SIMON.
Video Game developer iD software releases the game DOOM. DOOM is considered one of the most influential titles in video game history, popularizing the first-person shooter genre with its “deathmatch” multi-player mode. Its use of graphic violence and satanic imagery also made the game controversial, which of course only served to increase DOOM’s popularity.
Atari introduces their first product, Pong, which would become the world’s first commercially successful video game. The popularity of Pong sparked the beginning of the video game industry with Atari being the leader in both arcade and home video gaming industries through the early 1980’s.