For me, as an avid gamer, a gaming console – more specifically, the PlayStation 5, is the top technological advancement of the last 25 years.
Today, we take the quality of TV shows, movies and video games for granted, complaining from time to time if something takes too long to load or if a character in a game is not personalised enough. Long forgotten are the days when Hagrid had a triangle head in the original Harry Potter game. We no longer need to keep PlayStation Memory Cards safe either – with all data stored in the cloud, accessing games is seamless like never before.
But let’s take a few steps back to appreciate how far video gaming has come as an industry. If you’ve seen the latest generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles, you’d be amazed that the first-ever gaming console looked like a bulky rectangular block of wood. Named “Brown Box” and created by Ralph H. Baer in 1967 – also known as the ‘Father of Video Games’ – the console had pre-loaded six simple games (ping-pong, volleyball, etc) and didn’t have any sounds at all.
Almost ten years later, a battle between Atari and Magnavox Odyssey broke out, with multiple consoles released practically every six months. Players like Nintendo, Bally Astrocade, Coleco and Mattel joined the competition – however, it wasn’t until 1981 when gaming technology truly advanced, and games like ‘Mario Bros’ and ‘Final Fantasy’ were released.
At the same time, Sega and Nintendo dominated the market with their Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) consoles. With every release, the graphics improved, and consoles started stepping away from cartridges, opting for CD-based games instead. Over the years, the younger generation spent less time in the arcade halls and more time in front of the TVs.
In 1994, Sony entered the market with PlayStation, shortly followed by Microsoft with the Xbox in 2001. As consumers became more challenging to impress, the consoles took longer to be released, with expectations higher than ever. Today, games are more immersive, requiring controllers with haptic feedback to feel when your gun is empty in a shooter game or a VR headset to experience a rollercoaster ride from the comfort of your sofa.
The quality of games is also surreal, with many famous actors ‘lending’ their voices and faces to gaming developers. And with tech trends rapidly evolving, perhaps the next thing we’ll see is fully immersive gaming rooms (channelling my inner Gerard Butler from the ‘Gamer’).
A console is no longer considered a privilege but a lifestyle. My PlayStation 5 is an all-in-one entertainment system – whether I shoot some zombies in Call of Duty, watch Netflix and Disney+, play Spotify when washing up or connect my smartphone to it to play “That’s You” with my friends.
So, when the new generation of consoles comes, I’ll be right there, first in line to place my order. Why? Because once you press that ‘Ready Player One’ button, you know it’s no longer just a game – it’s part of your life.