In the late 19th century, a new gimmick was introduced into traveling carnivals as a curious new novelty act. Amongst the bearded lady, elephant rides and siamese twins was a new sideshow attraction: moving pictures. Dark tents with projecting black and white images began to enthralled the public. Over time, moving pictures moved beyond carnival barkers seeking to make a quick buck and into the hands of those who saw a greater potential in the burgeoning new technology. In the hands of scientists and artists, the moving picture transitioned from short clips of racing horses played out for a few quid, to the elaborate storytelling art form that we know today.
In the late 20th century, a similar story of technological curiosity unfolded in the world of computers. Early computers were largely seen as instruments for the military and scientific study. In the shadows of the organizations that operated these giant gymnasium-sized calculators, there were a few bored creative engineers who looked for ways to utilise the technology to entertain themselves. They used computers to create rudimentary games based around crude shapes.
Opportunists seized the day again and the carnival barker was reborn in the form of the arcade owner. Arcades were venues where video games stood in colorful cabinets inviting you to spend coins in the same manner films were once available in nickelodeon machines at the turn of the century. These games were akin to interacting with shadow puppets and a great deal of imagination on the part of the player was key to enjoyment. Over the past 30 or so years, video games have morphed into a new kind of storytelling – the same way films did over a century ago. They have matured greatly, taking the foundation of film and expanding it into a new interactive medium.
What follows are 10 video games that set out to purposely capture the magic of the movies…
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This article was first posted on October 8, 2013