The Innovators

The Game Changer: Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins

A Brief History of Play

The Innovators


WE CELEBRATE AND ENCOURAGE INNOVATION.

Innovators push the boundaries of the known world. They're change agents who are relentless in making things happen and bringing ideas to execution.

1962
A group of MIT students (who also coined the term "hack" for a project without a constructive end) creates SpaceWar!, the first digital computer game.

1971
Computer Space debuts as the first video arcade game, featuring a black-and-white monitor where players control a rocket ship and do battle with two flying saucers.

1972
The first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, hits home with black-and-white graphics, no sound and no ability to keep score. In a precursor to video game violence, it features an add-on electric rifle.

1975
Atari engineers scale down its table tennis arcade game Pong into a home version. (Beer pong champs take note: The original Pong was developed by Computer Space creator Nolan Bushnell as a game "so simple any drunk in a bar could play.")

1984
Russian scientist Alexey Pajitnov develops the first version of Tetris. Electronic Arts holds the exclusive license on mobile devices for Tetris and has sold more than 100 million copies for cell phones alone since 2005.

1985
"It's-a-me, Mario!" The Nintendo Entertainment System introduces the world to Super Mario Bros., still one of the best-selling games of all time.

1989
The Nintendo Game Boy, a video game you can put in your pocket, leaves gamers drooling over the battery-powered possibilities. People have a reason to ignore others in public long before mobile texting.

1995
After Nintendo and Sony can't agree on terms for Sony to make a CD-ROM add-on for Nintendo, Sony develops PlayStation on its own. The CD-ROM-based console makes it cheaper and easier for developers to create games. Sony scores.

1996
The Nintendo 64 introduces the world to GoldenEye 007, the first-person shooter game that's based on the 1995 James Bond film and is considered one of the best shooting games of all time.

1999
The Sega Dreamcast debuts as the first console with a built-in modem and Internet support for online gaming. Sega sells 225,000 units within the first 24 hours of release, a record broken a year later by the PlayStation 2.

2001
The Xbox is Microsoft's first venture into video game consoles. It spawns Xbox Live, which lets online gamers play with or against each other, and the first Halo game. Young men everywhere ignore their girlfriends.

2004
Pasty teenagers everywhere unite over the Internet to play World of Warcraft, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. With 11.5 million players, WOW is said to be the leading cause of lack of friends IRL (in real life).

2006
The Nintendo Wii lets gamers interact with their consoles and control the game using physical gestures. By the end of 2009, the Wii leads the video game industry with sales of 71 million total units.

2008
The debut of the Apple App Store gives smartphone users even more ways to procrastinate. Among the most popular paid apps for 2008: Koi Pond, Pocket Guitar and iBeer. Yeah, there really is an app for everything.

2009
U.S. retail sales of video games reach $19.7 billion in revenue, with $10.5 billion from software and $9.2 billion from hardware. The Nintendo Wii sells 3.8 million units in December and sets a record for monthly game system sales in the U.S. Seriously, does anyone even go to work anymore?

2010
Mobile ushers in a new way of gaming life, with the debut of a FarmVille iPhone app, an extension of the wildly popular Facebook game. Gartner predicts worldwide mobile gaming end-user revenue will surpass $5.6 billion this year and reach nearly $11.4 billion by 2014.
--Michelle Juergen
 

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Jennifer Wang is a staff writer at Entrepreneur magazine in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the November 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Game Changer: Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins.

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