Gaming is an interactive medium. You press buttons and some stuff happens, that much is elementary. What might not be so obvious, however, is just how that “stuff” is governed. Sure, videogames occupy realms of near limitless possibilities in theory – like flying around the galaxy, going to war, or simply wearing dungarees while jumping a mushroom – but in practice all of this can only be achieved within a strict amount of input commands. You can’t, for example, be running around on Call of Duty and suddenly decide you want throw your gun at a useless teammate, or change your underwear or whatever. There’s no button for that. No option in the menus.
Not that it matters of course, because why would you want to actually do those things anyway? The buttons and their subsequent actions have been streamlined over the course of many years to become the exact buttons that you need, and the ones that make the game play the way it does. You can shoot and crouch and run and camp. Camping probably doesn’t count though, as there’s no physical input for that – it’s just you being a lame-o.
But, as in literally all other areas in life, it’s impossible to deny evolution. Call of Duty didn’t just happen to be that way, and I imagine if it were to get made today with no prior context, the controls and gameplay ideas would certainly be very different. So where, then, can we trace our most common gaming mechanics back to, before they were just one homogenized slab that occupies every single aspect of modern games’ existence? Obviously characters in games could always walk or move about, because that’s what people and things do. But what about the things the less obvious aspects? Where did they come from?
Let’s go back in time and find out. And do pay attention, I may quiz you on it later.