Videogame Timeline


Ralph Baer invents the ‘Brown Box’ for Sanders Associates.


October 29 – First two nodes of Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) connect UCLA’s School of Engineering and SRI International.  Allows data to be transferred between points.  Successive nodes would expand globally to become the internet.


Pong releases.

Magnavox sells the Brown Box as the renamed Magnavox Odyssey.


October 14 – Atari launches the 2600 in North America.


June 1 – Space Invaders releases in NA.


April 22 Nintendo releases Shigeru Miyamoto’s Donkey Kong in NA.

September – Sir-Tech releases Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord on the Apple II computer, which would translate Dungeons & Dragons role playing systems into a graphical world where you took action rather than a series of static text screens where you read. Would effectively create the JRPG genre and directly inspire legendary titles like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.


September 1 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial releases in NA.  Low quality over saturates already strained videogame market.


June – Chunsoft releases Yuji Horii’s The Portopia Serial Murder Case for the PC-6001 in Japan. The game’s graphical presentation, text parser interface, and branching, non-linear story would create the blueprint for visual novels including Snatcher and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

Video Game Crash threatens entire industry.


June 6 – Alexey Pajitnov releases Tetris in the Soviet Union.


July 12Sega releases Yu Suzuki’s Hang-On in arcades. With its Super Scaler technology that can simulate 3D space with 2D sprites, it brings games into a new perspective and changes action games forever.

October 2 – Sega releases Yu Suzuki’s Space Harrier in arcades, would go on to define rail-shooters such as Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox, and Rez.

October 18 – Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) launches in NA. It would standardize the ‘+’ shaped D-Pad that would be used on every console’s controller for decades.

    • Super Mario Bros. released.  Created side-scrolling technique which followed the player as they moved Mario to the right, which transformed simple obstacle courses into complex levels filled with personality.


Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda on North American NES consoles.


April 21 – Nintendo Game Boy launches in NA.

    • Tetris released as pack in game.  Helps sell market on Game Boy and portable gaming.

August 14 Sega launches the Genesis in NA.


March 22 Capcom releases Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior in arcades. Revolutionizes fighting games.

September– Nintendo launches the Super Nintendo in North America.

November 21 – Nintendo releases Takeshi Tezuka’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Japan’s Super Famicom. The game proved the validity of the lock-and-key progression style that directs the player around the gameworld.  The structure would find a diverse set of applications from Super Metroid to Resident Evil.


January 1 – Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty releases in NA.  Becomes the template for the Real Time Strategy genre.

August 22 – Midway releases  releases Mortal Kombat in NA arcades.  Will go on to spark violence in videogames debate.


September 10 – Capcom releases the Capcom Play System II arcade board, which would power many of the company’s most influential fighting games including Darkstalkers, Street Fighter Alpha, and Marvel vs Capcom.

  • Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers first game on the board.

OctoberSega releases Yu Suzuki’s Virtua Fighter. The ground-breaking polygonal fighter would create the 3D fighting genre and go 360 degrees with Soulcalibur and to the arena with Power Stone.

December 10 – id releases Doom on the PC in NA. Doom’s quick gameplay and cohesive enemy classes popularize the first person shooter.


April – Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) formed.

April 18 – Nintendo releases Yoshio Sakamoto’s Super Metroid releases in NA.

June 30 – Capcom releases Darkstalkers: The Night Warrior in Japanese arcades. The gameplay debuted concepts such as air guarding, dashing, and chain combos that created a new type of fast-paced fighting game that would lead to Capcom’s Versus series and inspire anime fighters including Arc System Works’ Guilty Gear series.

July 29 – Congress approves the IDSA’s proposed Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system to self-regulate and limit availability of mature content to minors.

November 22 – Sega launches the Saturn in Japan.

December 14 – Sega releases digital distribution service Sega Channel for the Genesis in NA. By renting a coaxial adapter from their cable provider, users could play full retail games on a rotating release schedule, effectively creating game streaming for consoles.

December 21 Bungie releases Marathon on Macs in NA.  One of first major games to feature fully mouse-driven free-look.


May 11 – Sega Saturn ‘launches’ in North America.

September 9 – Sony launches PlayStation in NA.  The console’s CD drive allows larger games to be produced.


March 22 – Capcom releases Shinji Mikami’s Resident Evil. The zombified action/adventure game would not only create the Survival Horror genre but its design would revolutionize 3D hack & slash games with Devil May Cry and third-person shooters with Resident Evil 4.

June 22 – id releases Quake in NA.  Influential for being one of the first fully polygonal games, standardizing mouse-look, WASD keyboard movement, and online competitive and competitive  multiplayer.

June 23 – Nintendo launches the Nintendo 64 in NA.  Introduces analog control.

    • Super Mario 64 releases in NA.  The game defines movement and camera in three-dimensional world.


August 31 Squaresoft releases Final Fantasy 7 in NA. Popularizes Japanese role playing games globally and increases interest in cinematic videogames.

Sony releases the Dual Shock controller for the PlayStation in Japan. First large-scale dual analog control and dedicated force feedback.


March 31 – Blizzard Entertainment releases Star Craft in NA.

September – Nintendo releases Pokemon Red/Blue in NA.  ‘Gotta Catch ’em All’ craze.

October 22 – Konami releases Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation in NA.  Hideo Kojima proves that videogames could have Hollywood-caliber, cinematic narratives while pushing the unique opportunities of the medium to tell them.

November 19 – Valve releases Half-Life in NA. Changes the course of in-game, real time cinematics and player connected storytelling.

November 23 – Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in NA.  Defines combat and level design in 3D world.


September 9 – Sega launches the Dreamcast in NA.  First console to have internet connection built in.


October 26 – Sony launches the PlayStation 2 in NA.  Built-in DVD player brings format into homes and becomes de facto standard for media.

December 21 – Sega releases Sonic Team’s Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast, creating the console blue print for online multiplayer RPG’s like Monster Hunter, Lost Planet, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.


August 23 – Capcom releases Hideki Kamiya’s Devil May Cry, establishing the character action genre as hybrid brawler/fighting game.

September 24 – Sony releases Ico in NA.  Pushes videogames as art debate.

October 23 – Rockstar Games releases Grand Theft Auto 3 in NA.  Creates open-world genre.

November 15 – Microsoft launches the Xbox in NA.

    • Bungie releases Halo: Combat Evolved.  Title marries mouse control onto controller interface, helping unite console and PC design. sensibilities.


Sega discontinues the Dreamcast, announces its move to dedicated game development for multiple consoles.


April 1 – Rooster Teeth releases Red vs Blue onto the internet.

July 16 – Interactive Digital Software Association renamed to Entertainment Software Association (ESA).


November 9 – Bungie releases Halo 2 in NA.  Pushes online gaming onto consoles.

November 16 – Valve launches Steam in NA.  Will become premier digital distribution platform for computers.

    • Half-Life 2 releases in NA.

November 21 – Nintendo Dual Screen (DS) launches in NA.

November 23 – Blizzard Entertainment launches World of Warcraft in NA.


January 11 – Capcom releases Resident Evil 4 in NA.  Shinji Mikami’s sequel revolutionizes the action genre with over the shoulder orientation.

March 22 – Sony Santa Monica releases God of War in NA, establishing western game development’s take character action genre.  Quick Time Events become primary mini game type for medium.

November 22 – Microsoft launches the Xbox 360 in NA. It’s Internet integration and PC compatible infrastructure bridges gap between consoles and computers.

    • Geometry Wars released on Xbox Live Arcade

December 1 – Capcom releases Monster Hunter Portable in Japan, bringing the Phantasy Star Online-inspired hunting game to the PSP with adhoc multiplayer so players could connect with others nearby. The Monster Hunter series explodes in Japan.


November 7 – Epic Games releases Gears of War in NA.  Popularizes cover-based gameplay for third person action games.

    • Unreal Engine 3.

November 7 Harmonix releases Guitar Hero 2 releases in NA. Starts the plastic instrument craze.

November 11 – Sony launches the PlayStation 3 in NA.

November 19 – Nintendo launches the Wii in NA.  Design simplifies gaming and expands market potential.

    • Wii Sports bundled with Wii console.


June 29 – Apple launches the iPhone in NA. Dramatically increases access and interest in mobile gaming and in app purchases.

November 5 – Infinity Ward releases Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in NA.  Creates paradigm for RPG character progression in multiplayer games.


September 22 – Capcom releases Mega Man 9. Helps Cave Story usher in retro game boom that would elevate indie game scene.


Minecraft distributed on internet.

June 19 – Farmville releases on Facebook.

August 25 Rocksteady Studios releases Batman: Arkham Asylum, considered the best comic-inspired game of all time. Introduces new attack/evade/counter gameplay that would be adopted by many other games for years later.

December 18 – James Cameron’s film Avatar releases in NA. Ushers in era of Stereoscopic 3D viewing.


March 27 – Nintendo releases the 3DS in NA.

United States Supreme Court deems videogames as free speech protected under the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution.

October 4 From Software releases Dark Souls. Hidetaka Miyazaki’s title reinvigorates interest in challenging action games from the 8 and 16-bit generations.


November 15 – Sony releases the Playstation 4.

November 22 – Microsoft releases the XBox One.


September 26 – Epic Games releases the battle royale segment of their third person shooter Fortnite. The free to play game becomes an instant cultural phenomenon and brings the BR format mainstream.

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