It seems like only yesterday that Nintendo unveiled the Super NES and we all marveled at the amazing graphics. I can remember discussing all the crisp, clean colors and pictures with my friends and thinking the video game developers would never be able to top those graphics. To think about it today, it’s actually funny how wrong I was.
The Sega Saturn was actually the first 32 bit gaming system to feature 3D graphics. It was released in November of 1994 and it was head and shoulders beyond anything else available on the market. Unfortunately, the Sony PlayStation came just one month later and squashed the Sega in the United States and worldwide. Though the Sega did sell more than 9 million units across the globe, it paled in comparison to the more than 100 million units moved by Sony.
In 1996, Nintendo released its third home gaming system, the Nintendo 64, and the 3D revolution was on. It was obvious from the first time any of us saw a 3D Mario running across the screen, in Super Mario 64, that computer graphics had completely altered the way video games were designed. Although Sega is no longer a player in the video game system market, they were usually the first to develop new products.
I still remember 1999 like it was yesterday when the Dream-cast debuted and blew everyone’s expectations away. The 128 bit graphics were so life like and it was obvious that the 3D models which went into creating the games were extremely difficult to put together. The facial expressions and life like details were major factors in Sega’s ability to sell more than 225,000 units in the US within 24 hours of releasing the world’s first 128 bit system.
As time has gone on, 3d video game and computer graphics have become less about bits and more about the processors which handle said bits. This may be a difficult concept to understand initially but think about this metaphor. Let’s say the processor is like the coach of the Baltimore Ravens and the players are like the graphics. John Harbaugh was able to guide that team to a Super Bowl victory. However, if I would have been the coach of that team, they would have probably gone 0-16 and they certainly wouldn’t be the world champions.
CGI and other such technological advancements have vastly improved entertainment from video games to the movies that generate billions for Hollywood. The games and 3D graphics are so realistic now it has become difficult to tell whether a real NASCAR race is taking place or if someone is simply playing a video game.
The future of 3 dimensional imagery is as bright as ever and the ability to manipulate pixels has become a very lucrative trade. We’ll just have to hold our collective breath and see what new games and movies are produced next to blow us away.