Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    Games are important to our culture as people, think of how many iconic images there are that involve games.  When you think of the early half of the 20th century many of us will picture one of those quaint little towns with the white picket fences and some kids rolling a barrel hoop down a dusty street.  Other images that are well known are the paintings by C.M. Coolidge of dogs playing poker from the early 1900's.  Face it games are an important part of our culture and have been for a long time.   So here's a few examples of games that have either been around longer than you probably suspect or have a special importance.  This list isn't in any order of import or chronology, it's simply a list and I'm quite sure many games are missing.

  1. Draughts   -  Those of us in the US probably know the variation known as checkers.  This game has been around for at least 3000 years.  Plato mentioned a variation of the game in his writings, as did Homer.  
  2. Chess         -  Chess originated in India sometime around the 6th Century.  It was in Europe though it became known as the "Game of Kings".  Chess was used to teach war strategy all through out it's history.  In India the pieces were called infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry instead of pawns, knights, bishops, and rooks.  These represented the 4 basic military divisions of the time.
  3. The Leaf Game  -  This is the earliest known "Card Game" dating from 868 AD in China.  The Chinese invented the playing card and we owe all our favorite card games from Poker to Solitaire to them.
  4. Monopoly  -  This is a much more recent game, yet has an important secret history.  During World War II, allied POW's were allowed care packages.  Special editions of the popular board game contained hidden maps, money, documents, compass' and other tools to help POW's escape.  Monopoly is also responsible for creating the first millionaire in the game industry in the name of Charles Darrow due to royalties after he sold the game to Parker Brothers.
  5. Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device  -  Dating back to 1947 this is the earliest known "Video Game" it was a missile simulator based on Radar equipment.  While you didn't find this in peoples homes, it proved plausibility of and established the concept of a market for Video Games in the future.
  6. Zork         -   While not the first MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) this is one of the first (1977) of many extremely popular ones.  Many of today's MMOs such as WoW, UO, LoTRO, and stand alone RPGs such as the Final Fantasy, and Breath of Fire games can trace their roots directly back to Multi-User Dungeons like Zork and Colossal Cave Adventures.  Find some pictures of the game Akalabeth: World of Doom, which helped give rise to the Ultima Franchise of Richard Garriot, and contributed to the success of the Apple II for evidence!
  7. Ultima Online   -    While not the first modern MMO, that crown goes to Neverwinter Nights on the AOL network,  Ultima Online was without doubt the first commercially successful one.  Boasting what at the time was a staggering 250,000 plus subscribers this game proved MMO's not only could make money but could make it in large quantities.  This game is still active and running, just think about that for a moment.  Ultima Online was released in 1997 and is nearing it's 15th anniversary, it's quite possible some of you reading this couldn't even read, or possibly weren't even born yet while others of you were making your first excisions through Sosaria visiting Dungeon Covetous, or Despise. 
  8. Dungeons and Dragons  -  No other game has influenced modern RPGs and MMOs as much, combine this games influences and imagery with MUDs like Zork and one of the most popular sections of the Video Game industry is laid out in front of you, that is the Fantasy RPG/MMO genre.  This game is still alive and well, and popular in many circles.  I remember many long nights while crossing the Atlantic on the USS Enterprise being spent exploring the Forgotten Realms, battling Goblins, Orcs, or simply trying to uncover a mystery.  The limits on this game are only those imposed by the imagination of the player, the creativeness of the Game Master and the luck of the dice rolls.
  9. Shadow Run  -  Shadow Run in many ways is the other third of the modern RPG/MMO world.  Where D&D introduced Fantasy Shadow Run brought in science and technology.  Cybernetics and Magic mixed and the game was a huge success.  Why do you think characters like Barrett from Final Fantasy VII didn't seem strange?  Think about that a man with a Gatling gun for a hand and we just accept it.
  10. Everquest  -  While Ultima Online proved MMO's could be commercially successful, EQ learned from many of what many view as Design Concept flaws in UO and launched to praise.  Still running EQ has recently gone to a Hybrid Free to Play model, so get out there explore Norrath already.  Almost every MMO that has launched since Everquest has used it's base model as the foundation their game was built upon.  World of Warcraft borrowed heavily from it and though many people classify new MMO's that borrow from WoW as "WoW Clones", the reality is WoW is an EQ Clone.

That's all for tonight, I hope you enjoy this list and learned a few things, please feel free to chime in with a comment for any games you wish to add to this list.  I'm sure there are many that are worthy I missed or have no first hand experience with.


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