The Evolution of Sports Video Games and Slots

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Did you know that the first video sports game was invented in 1958? In fact, it was probably the first video game ever made. A physicist by the name of William Higinbotham invented a game called Tennis for Two. This game sat in the Brookehaven National Laboratory and was simply invented as a way to entertain guests. Little did Higinbotham know that this game would come to be seen as the primitive ancestor of one of the most successful industries of all time.

In the years since Tennis for Two, video gaming has conquered the world, game by game, console by console. Sports-themed video games, in particular, have enthralled gamers time and time again. The genre has legions of fans and is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the video gaming industry. Let’s take a look at how sports video games have evolved over the years, because one thing is for sure; the sports video games of today look absolutely nothing like Tennis for Two.

Arcade Games

In the late 1960s, two notable games arrived on the video gaming scene. One was Taito’s Crown Soccer Special and the other was Sega’s Grand Prix. The former game was a pinball-style game housed in an electro-mechanical machine, and the later was a car racing game that introduced the steering wheel and foot pedal controls, a model still used today in arcade racing game machines. These two games garnered plenty of praise and were popular, but it wasn’t until 1972 that video gaming really caught widespread public attention.

In 1972, Atari launched Pong, and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, Pong is so historically significant that there is a Pong machine in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian. In case the name hadn’t given it away, Pong is based on table tennis (Ping Pong). And while it may not look and feel very sporty, it nevertheless captured the hearts and minds of a generation.

Throughout the rest of the 70s, Taito and Sega released a host of sports-themed games. Taito introduced the concept of multi-player games with their two-player Tennis game, Davis Cup, and their two-player football game, Soccer. Taito raised the stakes even further with the introduction of scrolling graphics. Not to be outdone, Sega came out with the first two-and-a-half dimensional (2.5-D) sports video game – a racing game called Moto-Cross. Between them, Taito and Sega managed to give us a basketball-themed game, a team-based football game, a bowling game, and a baseball game.

Sport-Themed Slot Games

The 70s was also the decade that saw the Fortune Coin Company launch the first ever electronic slot game. The company was eventually bought out by IGT, one of the biggest names in gaming software today. The popularity of video slot games shot through the roof during the 70s and 80s, but it wasn’t until the advent of the online casino in the 90s that this form of gaming really came into its own. Microgaming was one of the first software companies to launch their own online casino as a platform for their own brand of slots. Surprisingly, it took quite a few years for sports to find its way on to the extensive list of slot game themes. Microgaming’s first sport-themed offering was Hot Shot, a baseball-themed slot, in 2003.

In the last two decades, the sports-themed slot game has gone from strength to strength. In 2011, Playtech released Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven, a video slot based on Frankie Dettori’s 1997 historic seven wins at horse racing’s most prestigious event, Ascot. NetEnt’s Football: Champion’s Cup Slot is an excellent example of a football-themed slot game done right, and Microgaming’s Centre Court slot will have tennis fans happily spinning reels for hours on end. The best thing about online slots is that they can be played from the comfort of your sofa and if you chose the right operator, you can use PayPal to make your online deposit. You’ll also find PayPal slots based on fishing, such as Betsoft’s The Angler Slot, and rugby, such as Microgaming’s Rugby Star Slot, as well as cricket, basketball, Ice Hockey and Boxing.

Early Console Games

Console gaming took off in the early 80s. Atari, Mattel and Nintendo were the main players in the early 80s, and between them they brought video gaming up to a whole new level. Mattel created games with beautiful graphics and Atari captured the magic of the arcade game and brought it into people’s homes. But for most people, the console of the 80s was the Nintendo NES because housed within its walls was one a gaming duo who were to become two of the most beloved gaming characters of all time, Mario and his brother Luigi.

By the late 80s, sports-themed video games began to benefit from A.I (Artificial Intelligence) technology. It was at this stage that the games took on a more realistic quality. And in 1987, EA (Electronic Arts), a name now synonymous with Sports video games, released Earl Weaver Baseball. Thanks to the use of A.I and the improvements in graphics and game mechanics, this game has gone down in history as being one of the best baseball games ever made – and at the time of its release, it was revolutionary.

Modern Console Games

With consoles the like of PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast, there came a run of truly awesome sport video games. Modern consoles and the games that could be played on them changed the face of gaming forever. The 90s gave us the EA’s FIFA 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 and 99 – a football themed series of games that basically wiped the floor of all other football games (with the exception of Konami’s PES series, of course) Mario Kart, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, 1080 Snowboarding, NFL Blitz, and Gran Turismo.

The 2000’s gave us Mario Tennis, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and WWF No Mercy. The graphics these days are more realistic than ever, and the gameplay mechanics are fine-tuned and make for incredible control and manoeuvrability. Modern consoles have come as close to virtual reality as it’s possible to go, which is why we can’t wait to see how sports video games evolve when there is a VR headset in every home. Perhaps, the best is yet to come?