The best video games of all time
The first video games were developed in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that gaming started to become a more mainstream pastime. Originally a project by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Space War was among the first video games to be available, and it was also the subject of the earliest recorded esports contests.
When the technology used in computers became more affordable, more and more people were embracing the new age of the computer, and this was when the trend for computer games really took off. The rise of home computing meant that fans could enjoy their favourite games from the comfort of their own homes in the 1980s and 90s.
As computers and games became popular, consoles also moved beyond the blocky plug-in-and-play boxes that brought Pong to the masses. An increasing focus on graphics, sound, and the gaming experience saw more and more consoles joining the market alongside desktop computers.
The rise of arcade culture in the 1980s saw some of the most iconic games around, such as Pac Man, Pong, and Space Invaders. These laid the foundations for those that came afterwards, from traditional favourites to instant classics that passed the baton to the most popular games of today, including:
A hugely popular choice since their earliest days, slot machines have long been one of the most played games in any collection. From traditional casinos to video arcades, slots are at home in any gaming environment and rightly so since they were digitised as early as 1976
Launched, perhaps unsurprisingly, by a company based in Las Vegas, the first video slot used a modified Sony Trinitron mounted in a cabinet. It was trialled at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas and was soon adopted in the casinos on the strip, sparking an interest in digital versions of casino games that continue to this day.
Now, thanks to the internet, most players head online to play their favourite slot games at one of the many online slot providers available.
As traditional pinball is often found among video games in arcades, turning this classic favourite into a video game seemed like a good fit. Called, perhaps predictably, Pinball, the game showed how well this popular game worked in a digital format and showcased the technology that made such an accurate rendition possible.
A giant gorilla was already a familiar concept to fans of movies since the 1930s, but the advent of gaming provided an opportunity to bring him to fans in a completely new way. Although the subject of a slightly misjudged translation, the fact that the massive ape was called ‘Donkey’ was overlooked in favour of how fun the game was, as was the fact that you played as a plumber called Mario for no discernible reason.
Never intended to be the character that spawned hundreds of games, Mario was simply trying to make his way in a world where a giant gorilla is holding his girlfriend (then called Pauline) hostage and throwing barrels at him. Donkey Kong was such a hit that Mario went from minor player to major star, and his popularity has continued ever since.
Super Mario Bros.
Having made his debut in a platform format that has since become standard in modern gaming, Mario’s next move was to star in another massively popular game. Super Mario Bros may be one of the most unlikely games to have made an impression on an entire generation of gamers.
Brothers Mario and Luigi, both plumbers, are fighting their way through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue its ruler, Princess Toadstool, from a turtle-like monster named Bowser. The brothers have to avoid bottomless pits, fungal antagonists known as Goombas, and pits of lava to rescue the princess and defeat Bowser
These early platform games paved the way for generations of more and more complex and beautifully rendered games, both within the Mario franchise and from other developers.
The simplicity of Tetris is one of the things that made it so popular. Fitting blocks together to create lines on the screen proved hugely addictive, and it was one of the first games to be known for its music, which proved to be one of the biggest earworms of the 1990s.
As one of the most popular games of all time, Minecraft offers players the opportunity to create their own world, not just by building it themselves, but by modifying the code itself to create their own items in the game. The modifiable nature of Minecraft was a huge leap forward in terms of allowing players to create blocks, mobs, and weapons and use them in the game, making it completely customisable and ideal for creative coders
Video gaming has become such a mainstream pastime that there are estimated to be more than 3 billion gamers in the world at the moment. With so many games to choose from, gamers can opt for retro classics, modern favourites, and cutting-edge games using the very latest technology.