From Pong to Fortnite: A brief history of video games

Since the first flicker from an arcade cabinet back in the 1970s, video games have captivated the entire world. From two paddles battling it out in Pong, to a 100 players trying to be the last one standing in Fortnite, they’ve also come a long way in a short space of time.

With Video Games Day finally here, we’re celebrating our favourite hobby by taking a brief look back over the last 40 years of gaming.

Click here to see more great #videogamesday content and deals!

1. Pong

This arcade classic was one of the first successful home games in the early ‘70s, as people bought this digital version of table tennis in their droves. Pong’s simplicity was key to its success, with anyone able to pick up and play, and that helped kickstart the gaming revolution.

2. Space Invaders

Earth is being attacked by UFOs, and you’re the only person who can save it. Space Invaders’ straightforward hook and demanding gameplay saw people pour hours (and coins) into arcade machines, as they desperately tried to beat their friends high scores. It became one of the most recognisable arcade games ever created.

3. Pac-Man

Namco’s circular yellow mascot is an undisputed gaming icon, thanks to his unique sound and compelling arcade game. Chasing around flashing dots while avoiding colourful ghosts might sound bizarre, but it’s the foundation of one of the ‘80s biggest hits.

4. The Legend of Zelda

The Nintendo Entertainment System is one of the most popular consoles of all time, and Link’s first adventure is a huge reason why. One of the first console role playing games, The Legend of Zelda felt like a genuine grand adventure, and one that has stood the test of time.

5. Super Mario 64

Moving into the ‘90s, Nintendo’s 3D platformer was a literal game-changer. Being able to explore the Mushroom Kingdom in 3D was revelatory, and the copious amounts of secrets hid throughout Super Mario 64 meant exploring this world was a joy.

Pokémon Red & Blue

Handheld consoles also took off in the ‘90s, with the Game Boy leading the charge for portable gaming. While Tetris may have been the Game Boy’s first major success, there’s no arguing that Pokémon became a genuine phenomenon. Catching pocket monsters around Kanto was so much fun in 1999, we’re still doing it 19 years later!

7. Halo

When it released on Xbox in 2001, Bungie’s masterpiece redefined the console first-person-shooter. Casting you as augmented super soldier Master Chief, your mission centred on fighting alien threat The Covenant across gorgeous open battlefields. Halo is now Xbox’s flagship series, and it’s thanks to this historic sci-fi shooter.

8. Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2 is one of the most cinematic games ever made. As intrepid treasure-hunter Nathan Drake, your globe-trotting adventures led you slap bang in the middle of frantic vehicle chases, Tibetan village sieges, and one standout set-piece involving a speeding train that quite literally comes off the rails. With groundbreaking visuals and a protagonist it’s impossible not to like, Uncharted 2 is a stone cold classic.

9. Minecraft

If you can come up with an idea, chances are you can make it in developer Mojang’s sandbox construction phenomenon. With no limit to what you can build, be it Millenium Falcons or Mona Lisa murals, Minecraft has fed the imagination of an entire generation.

10. Fortnite

Undoubtedly the biggest game on the planet right now, Fortnite’s moreish mix of breezy accessibility and escalating tension is proving irresistible to millions. It’s battle royale with a spin, the ability to harvest resources and craft defenses resulting in uniquely customisable 1 vs 100 action. And with developer Epic regularly feeding free content updates to the masses in the form of new modes, skins, and weapons, Fortnite is a game that constantly delivers.