These games were genuine game-changers

Over the past 40 years, gaming has transformed from a niche hobby for tech nerds, mostly in the US, into a mainstream global leisure pursuit that generates more revenue per year than the music and movie industries put together. That change has come about partly through technological innovations like the development of smartphone technology and partly through changing habits and attitudes. But let’s not ignore the biggest contributor – some amazing games.

Here, we take a look at four games that have literally proved to be game changers.

Super Mario Bros reinvented the industry

In the early 1980s, video gaming went through a boom and bust cycle, raising the question of whether it was just one of those crazes that had come and gone. Then in 1985, along came Super Mario Bros to change everything. The first side-scroller to achieve mass appeal, this game inspired a hundred imitations, yet the original is still eminently playable almost 40 years later.

It was also the first game to introduce a real character with personality. Luigi is as important to gaming as Sherlock Holmes or Tom Sawyer are to literature, and the fact that there is still a market for Mario games tells you everything you need to know.

As if that wasn’t enough, Nintendo’s attention to quality set a new standard to revitalize an industry that was teetering on the brink of extinction.

DOOM broadened our horizons

In 1993, four game developers in Richardson, Texas, invented a new type of game. DOOM popularized 3D gaming, PC gaming and the whole first person shooter genre. It also heralded a return to form and relevance for the US gaming industry.

Like Super Mario, you can still have good fun playing DOOM today, but even more importantly, when you do so, you can see the genesis of games like Call of Duty, Halo and even CS:GO. Without DOOM, the world of eSport would look very different – or would not exist at all.

Poker elevated gaming to a sport

There is one title that crossed the threshold between games and sport long before the eSport term was coined, however. Card games were among the earliest to transition to PCs, and we all remember those solitaire and freecell games that were tucked away in the applications section on even the earliest versions of Windows. Poker took things to a new level, however, as the first real money game that people could play competitively over the internet.

Like the broader gaming scene, poker had an early boom followed by a huge bust on Black Friday. But that only provided the impetus for it to come back stronger, safer and better regulated. Today, there are about 120 million online poker players, roughly half of whom are in the US. Resources like Tight Poker help new players to join the online poker action and to stay safe.

Grand Theft Auto continues to push the envelope

The GTA series opened our eyes to the potential of open world gaming. Early versions of the game were of their time, but it was GTA 3 that took things to a new level when it was unleashed on an unsuspecting gaming public in 2001. The moral ambiguity of the lead protagonist added a richness and drew the player right into the game in a way that had never been done before.

It was a little like finding yourself in the middle of a Godfather movie, but with no idea how the narrative was going to progress. But the storyline was only part of it. There was also the detail, from the unpredictable behavior of random passers by to the choice of music and radio stations. The idea of movie-level production values in game design is something we almost take for granted today, but this is where it was done first.

Game changing without a doubt, the developers at Rockstar games had ideas so lofty that the technology of the time could barely cope. So what did they do? They simply invented a new game engine called RenderWare. GTA continues to push boundaries, and each new release is accompanied by the sort of buzz that few other game franchises can achieve.

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