It's been fourty years since the first videogame was released to the world - Pong, 1972. In those fourty years, we moved a lot further and went from two white bar and a white dot moving between them to the visual delights and near photo realism of recent games.
In these fourty years, too, many people have started to play and enjoy them, and many people in the First World have a console or handheld or play games online - penetration is probably over 90%
There've been arguments that video games can't be art and aren't now - something games like The Path certainly disagree with, even if Fifa 12 still makes a convicing argument for this.
More on that another time, but that did make me think - how did other media and art forms evolve in this period of time? How far did they get in 40 years?
In reverse chronological order:
Television: First seen in 1925, by 1965 it was just getting started spreading around the globe. Countries like Greece and Iceland had no broadcasters yet and BBC2 was introduced only the year before. Colour TVs had only just been introduced, but most people didn't have one yet. Then again, not many people had TVs yet - while it might have started to spread more, this was certainly still the era where everyone gathered around the TV of the one family in the street who had one. Keep it up!
Movies: While there've been several steps to get to movie technology, the first true public viewing was in 1895. Fast forwarding to 1935, it has been a quite a big step up. We've had our first golden age, and are about to enter a second. Sound was added to movies 12 years ago and is starting to get bigger - it's been standard since 1929. In the mean time, colour is starting to become acceptable. While there have been experiments with it from nearly the start, 1935 is the year where it really takes off.
Surprisingly, when you compare the years (and give it a year or two leeway) the years measure up. We'll probably explore that at some point!
Theatre: While there have been performers for ages, theatre as an art - with plays, scripts, actors, storylines rather than entertainers 'doing their thing' - is argued to first be done by the Greeks around 540BC. It stayed there for fourty years, not spreading that fast. Several plays were written, but most of the greater and more wellknown work came after that era. Still, it took quite a while for it to properly spread and there were very few improvements in form - we stay confined to Greek tragedies in this era.
Literature: It's a bit harder to define the starting point for literature. Conservatively, we can say the Epic of Gilgamesh qualifies, really - a poem, historical story, written down. Sounds like it to me. Moving from 2000BC, 40 years forward, we find that reading is still something only the elite really does. While it's spread out from the Sumerians slightly, it's far from a universal skill and very few people would probably have read it. At least we can, now.
Music: Starting with singing 60 000 years ago, we saw musical instruments 25 000 years ago. Beethoven, Mozart and Bach still needed over 24 000 years after that. When we started, we were still beating stones with sticks. Next!
Painting: Coming in around the same time as music, cave paintings have been around for ages. It took a while before they figured how to make it more life-like... seriously, the graphics were better than Pong, but fourty years in they couldn't even figure out perspective, let alone create fully 3D environments. Fail, you artists of the past. Big, big fail.
Page written by Joeno.
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