Consoles have come a long way in the 50 years since the creation of Ralph H. Baer’s Brown Box in 1967. Early iterations such as this were revolutionary, and it’s amazing to think that in half a century, technology has progressed as rapidly as it has, continually raising the bar for entertainment.
Even in the last 10 years, console benchmarks have made great strides, with releases that have taken us on a myriad of journeys from the depths of oceans to the expansive reaches of space. At each turn, where we have felt there is nowhere else to go, we have managed to find possibilities lingering at the fringes of our imaginations. We find that there is always more room to grow.
At the expense of this sounding like a piece dedicated to Nintendo launching the Switch this past month, I will take a different path and speak to the technology that has been introduced; portability. We are standing at the cusp of something that will become not only a personal console, but a device that through growth, pruning, and practice, will change how we perceive consoles. It has been proven that when technology is implemented the right way, or at least in the most practical way, it becomes more efficient, faster, and more effective.
As a contrast to the Switch, we have the Vive pushing forward into a more immersive experience placing the consumer in the throes of battle; the experience hinges on the emotion it creates. It’s raising deeper questions and stepping into territories based solely in science fiction. How an experience feels creates the cadence, which further stretches into the escapisms of entertainment.
Then there is VR on home consoles, such as Playstation, that attempts to become more affordable, cost effective, and more obtainable than the Vive. It exists as a middle ground to pique the interest with very relevant titles such as BioHazard, Batman, and RIGS.
And yet, where are we going? What will be the tipping point for the definition of a console in the next 50 years? Regardless of personal perceptions, there is no way to speak for the industry as a whole, but based on how far we’ve come, we may not have to look to science fiction to journey into other worlds.