Analyzing the Pixels: How Video Game Graphics Have Evolved With Time

Written by Chad

November 26, 2020

 

Video games have been around for almost 50 years now and have come incredibly far from what they once were. With the first games bring simple lines of code to modern titles boating realistic graphics, one thing that has always changed with new generations of games is the graphics they have come with. Let’s take a look at how video games and their graphics have evolved over time and what has allowed them to come so far.

 

The First Video Games

The first video games were little more than a few pixels on a screen with very limited movement. Games like pong and Tetris were considered to be the first video games introduced to the world. The majority of early video games were restricted to arcades as they needed the large machines to power even the simplest of graphics.

The earliest video games used very limited colors if any at all and could only generate a few particles of texture to move in the game.

A Rise in Home Entertainment

As video game graphics started to improve and the computing necessary to make them work was reduced in size, they finally became viable for home-usage. However, the first consoles like Atari and Nintendo offerings had much more restricted games than those that could be found on full arcade systems.

While you could now have decent graphics at home, the games were still lacking the power that was really needed to help them look good. The first eras of 16 and 32-bit graphics were showcasing that with time, graphics in video games could really start to improve.

3D Graphics Improve Drastically

After the likes of Mario and Pokémon took the world by storm, the 1990s introduced more accessible and refined 3D graphics in video games. This revolutionary step forward opened up the gaming world to a literally new dimension of graphical performance that has paved the way for the graphics we see today.

With some games starting to really take advantage of new 3D graphics, there were still many classic gaming experiences that didn’t need to make too many advancements. Even today, many slots games still use older graphics as they fit the style and theme of the gameplay.

The Current Graphical Power

When you look at modern-day video game graphics compared to what was available even just 20 years ago, you would be blown away. Modern computing and graphic generation are astronomically more powerful than anything produced before.

Even our phones have more power to play graphically impressive games than home consoles that were released 10 years ago. Modern-day graphics are almost realistic in many games and allow players to become more immersed in their gaming experiences than anything thought possible before. Modern graphics are also allowing options like virtual reality to help the gaming world and world as a whole advance into new levels of realism in the digital world.

 

What Allowed Graphics to Improve Over Time?

Computing Technology

Many people are aware that computing technology has come a long way in recent years, but the staggering amount it has increased in power by is hard to fathom. The processing power of modern computer chips allows technology to operate in an instant to provide images and computation like never before.

For graphics, this means that computers and consoles with processors are able to make more computations in a given second. More computations per second mean that you can have more information presented in a given frame of a game. More computing power means your games can have much better and dense graphics.

Storage Technology

Storage has arguably come even further than computing power as solid-state storage technology and computer memory is available like never before. When a computing unit needs help with completing a task, it reaches for memory to help fill in gaps that would otherwise take time.

Fast RAM allows actions to happen faster and modern hard drive technology is also much more capable than older options. You can now fit more information onto machines while also allowing for that information to be available quicker. When a game has access to more memory and faster storage, its graphics can be more impressive and still load as quickly as older options.

Display Technology

As important as the computing power is to good graphics, you won’t be able to notice the improved graphics if the display for them is older. Display technology from movie projectors to the phones we carry has seen consistent improvements as more efficient methods for screen manufacturing have come to exist.

Displays are now clearer and more responsive than anything that was offered even a year ago. Modern display technologies allow for images to be processes with more pixels and also pixels that can change color faster. Modern gaming graphics can look better and flow smoother thanks to advances in display technology.

Smarter Software

One of the last major elements that allowed graphics to improve over time is simply the improvement of software with time. While it once took months and years o create a simple game, modern game designers can make impressive content in a matter of weeks if they feel so inclined. Software used to make and run games has come very far since games used to be very simple in design.

The software used to make games allow developers to use preexisting graphic assets that they can improve and make look even better when the hardware is able to generate the graphics. To put it simply, improvements in technology as a whole have allowed graphics to come further with every new game release.

Key Takeaways

For the first days of pong to modern graphics that make you feel transported to an imaginary landscape, graphics in video games have evolved an enormous amount. As more power and computing offerings improve, gamers and video game creators alike can take advantage of the improvements in technology to make their dreams take a realistic form on the screen.

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