A Brief History of Gaming, Part 3 – The Blossoming – The Late 80s

By September 27, 2017History of Gaming


The human race has always been a lover of playing and gaming. From Peek-a-Boo and Hide-and-Seek, to Laser Tag and Pokemon Go, to adult gaming, like Poker and Chess, or more traditional games like Mah Jongg, we love to play our entire lives.  It’s all about the hunt.  The hunt for coins, the hunt for the winning hand, the hunt for the win.  


The later 80s were an absolute explosion of technology, an exponential growth spurt in the gaming industry and worldwide market.


Reader Rabbit was an educational computer software offering from The Learning Company.  The industry exploded with the addition of CD-ROM technology, but came crashing down shortly thereafter, thanks to the rise of the internet.


1987 saw a host of new fantasy RPGs (Role Playing Games).  Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto created the Legend of Zelda.  SSI obtained the license to make a video game for D & D (Dungeons and Dragons).  Leisure Suit Larry came out for adults.  


John Madden Football was first released in 1988, bringing sports games to life and inspired hundreds of console games.


In 1989 Nintendo released the Game Boy, an 8-bit handheld system featuring interchangeable game cartridges, and usually came with one game to get you started, mostly Tetris.  It wasn’t the first of its kind (Milton Bradley’s Microvision was released 10 years prior), but the Game Boy’s strengths made it very popular in the market.  It had great battery life and easy use, good gameplay and lots of games. The competition included the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx.  Game Boy was so popular that when it was released in the US, the first shipment of  a million units sold in just a few weeks.  They held their popularity for over a decade, until they were discontinued in 2000, in preparation for the release of the Game Boy Advance in 2001.


In 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0, and included a digital version of Solitaire.  Millions of people who would not have otherwise tried a video game played the video game on their home computers, and Solitaire became one of the most popular video game ever.  It laid the foundation and the gaming model for “casual” games.


Stay tuned for the 90s!!