10 "Firsts" That Changed Video Games Forever

It wasn't Shenmue that brought us Quick-Time Events...

Shenmue die hard quick time

Gaming has come a long way in a considerably short amount of time, evolving in numerous ways, from pixels to polygons and from two to three dimensional environments. In fact, video games are perhaps the fastest growing medium on the planet, transforming themselves every decade or so into something virtually unrecognisable, always progressing, improving upon pre-established conventions, and changing to meet the demands of the market.

Over the years, various games have come along and been the first of their kind, introducing concepts or gameplay innovations before anyone else, and generally being the first to do something remarkable.

In 1981, Donkey Kong was the first game to use animated cutscenes, for instance, making it one of the most historically significant games ever made. Equally, Jurassic Park: Trespasser – an ambitious first-person exploration game released in 1998 for Microsoft Windows – was the first game to use ragdoll physics; a now-customary animation style seen in everything from Skyrim and Fallout to Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

Everything on this list was the first to do something, traits and mechanics we now take for granted. Here are ten firsts that changed gaming forever…

10. The First Game To Use Motion Capture

Shenmue die hard quick time

First: Rise of the Robots (1994)

Released in 1994, Rise of the Robots – a fighting game published by Time Warner Interactive – was way ahead of its time, utilising CGI sprites instead of conventional pixels in order to create a more realistic aesthetic. Unfortunately, the game was panned almost universally for its uncooperative gameplay and awkward controls, and – while the game had a good many things going for it – it was considered a tremendous disappointment, fading into obscurity as a consequence.

With that being said, Rise of the Robots was the first game ever to utilise motion capture – decades before it would become a widespread practice – in order to create smooth, realistic movements within a virtual environment. Interestingly, Virtua Fighter 2 – which was released the very same year – introduced the same technology on arcades, but wouldn’t be ported to consoles until the following year.

Rise of the Robots received a fair amount of criticism upon release – many reviewers believing the game to have sacrificed gameplay for graphics, and others believing the game to be too easy – but regardless, it was the first to do something genuinely remarkable, and should be remembered as a landmark in gaming history as a result.

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Formerly an assistant editor, Richard's interests include detective fiction and Japanese horror movies.