Video game design began in the 1970s and rapidly evolved within years of its first release. Two variables of video game design familiar to users are the platforms and the gameplay styles. Designs compete for users, who in return for their support expect new, stimulating, sustainable products. New technologies and concepts lead to new models, graphics, and experiences.
This timeline illustrates the earliest video game designs. It shows the evolution of the physical platform design and the inventions in gameplay style design.
I used Knight Lab’s Timeline program. It links to a Google Sheet, which I made a copy of to work on. When information is added to the Google Sheet, it automatically feeds a Knight Lab timeline. The sheet includes dates, a title, images, descriptions, and source information.
Cover image is from Pexel. Dates, names, and descriptions were found through Wikipedia. Images were procured from Wikimedia Commons.
Basic research was performed to explore variables for the timeline. Research was broad, with an overwhelming selection of events was added to the timeline. After clutter was acknowledged, events were narrowed down based on grouping, interest, and imagery.
Simple imagery was decided from the beginning. There was experimentation with game-related backgrounds. Ultimately, plain colors were chosen. Other forms of media were considered, but were not added.
Proofreading for spelling errors and html errors on the Google Sheet concluded the process.
Platform images had white backgrounds and edited to have a dark timeline background. Most gameplay style images were dark and were edited to have a light timeline background. Alternation provided visual signals about different groups. It also provided simple, but not confusing, stimulation. A plain background color was chosen, rather than an image, to avoid clutter while providing these visual cues.
The timeline had two groups to allow users to view either platforms or gameplay styles. The group division accommodated two core aspects of game design without getting cluttered on one row.
The timeline focuses on the beginnings of video game platform and gameplay style design. It spans about thirty years and covers only the most simplistic events. Successor games were provided in the description for gameplay styles so readers may relate styles to contemporary games.
Gathering data is difficult. It would have been better to find a few reliable chronological resources, rather than seeking each piece of data from various crowd-sourced resources. Because “first” gameplay styles are sometimes disputed, establishing a “first” was time consuming. Generalized language was used to resolve this, but it was not ideal. Perhaps more could have been added to the descriptions.
I would have preferred to control the image locations. I wondered if gifs of gameplay would have been appropriate. I initially had sound as a third group, and wanted to add audio/Youtube files; I realized the timeline would have been overwhelming, and the search time consuming. These two media have the same link rot problem as jpegs. The text for groups could have been darker.
I would have preferred a more diverse selection of successor examples. While some of the listed games have strong female characters, it would have been beneficial to have added more games with characters of color. The result was due to time constraint. If the timeline extended to 2019, these factors would have been taken into consideration when choosing events.
While this timeline represents a limited scope of video game design, it may be treated as an educational, enjoyable, and relatable visualization.