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What years do you consider to be the Golden Age of video games?


austin532
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I often go back and forth on this but if I had to choose a Golden Age for console video games that spans about 10-15 years I would say 1985-1997. When 2D games died and the emphasis was now on 3D, that's when the Golden Age ended and Silver Age began IMO.

Edited by austin532
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I would consider '85 to '97 more Silver Age.  I would put the Golden Age from late 70s to '83 when arcade games really hit big.  Space Invaders, Asteroids, Tempest, Pac-Man.  Don't forget the coin shortage in Japan due to the immense popularity of the Space Invaders arcade cabinets.  And then Atari really bringing video games into the home.  The crash of '83 would signify the end of the Golden Age.

The Nintendo Entertainment System is the catalyst of the Silver Age, bringing the resurgence in popularity, consumer confidence, and a continued profitability of the medium that has not subsided since.  Similar to the Comics Code standard marking the beginning of the Silver Age of comics, Nintendo really instigates quality control in the industry with their seal of quality.  Not that it's the be-all-end-all for quality, we all know there are some weak titles among the NES library, but the industry takes note and quality control becomes the standard, particularly for first party and AAA titles. 

Of course, the continuing issue of shovelware perpetuates in the DS/Wii era and beyond, and really takes over casual and phone gaming, but that is well beyond the Silver Age.  I would say quality control really takes a dive near the end of the PS3/XB360 era as concern for rushing games to market and monetization/microtransactions starts to takes precedence.  Few publishers care about a finished product, if games can just be patched with massive updates and consumers will spend real world money on in-game currency, skins, weapons, DLC, or whatever.

Edited by JamesRobot
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Golden Age - (70s-early 80s)

Arcades are king.  Early home console like Atari brought the fun home.  Ends at the great video game crash.

Silver Age - (Mid 80s-Mid 90s)

Rise of Nintendo as they, Sega, and other evolve the home market.  Arcades still strong but not as much as their boom years outside of the fighting scene.

Bronze Age - (Late 90s-Late 00s)

Rise of 3D Gaming.  Home consoles catch up and surpass Arcade.  Arcades die.  2D gaming goes away.

Modern Age - (Late 00s-now)

Nostalgia mania, rereleases, remakes, and throwback titles galore.  Online gaming.  Rise of the indies. Portable gaming catches up to consoles.

Edited by fox
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84-98 for me. I actually prefer the early 32 bit era to what came later. Since 3D was new it was interesting to see all the different approaches to it before it became completely homogenized. I know I'm in the minority but I really like the early PSX era games. My favorite will always be 8bit through 16bit era though.

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I consider 1972 - 1983 to be like the Platinum Age/Beginning. Developers were learning how to make these new things called Video Games on very limited hardware and quality control was not a thing yet. It laid down the foundation for the next age. I would mark the early 80's as the start of the Golden Age but the crash completely killed the market.

Maybe I'm misunderstood but I always thought the term Golden Age meant when something was at it's best/peak?

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To be honest, it is kind of a hard question for me to answer.  Subjectively I would obviously say 85-98 because it was the era of NES and SNES which I am the most familiar with and nostalgic for.  However, I wasn't here to experience the buzz of ye olde arcades in the 70s and 80s, so I don't know what I am talking about when it comes to those.  However, I can imagine they were very exciting places to be at those times.  So I don't know if I can give  real answer.  If we are talking home consoles only, though, then of course my answer is easily mid 80s to late 90s.

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1 hour ago, fox said:

Golden Age - (70s-early 80s)

Arcades are king.  Early home console like Atari brought the fun home.  Ends at the great video game crash.

Silver Age - (Mid 80s-Mid 90s)

Rise of Nintendo as they, Sega, and other evolve the home market.  Arcades still strong but not as much as their boom years outside of the fighting scene.

Bronze Age - (Late 90s-Late 00s)

Rise of 3D Gaming.  Home consoles catch up and surpass Arcade.  Arcades die.  2D gaming goes away.

Modern Age - (Late 00s-now)

Nostalgia mania, rereleases, remakes, and throwback titles galore.  Online gaming.  Rise of the indies. Portable gaming catches up to consoles.

I think that distinction with the qualifiers works best, but at some point people are going to have to create new metals or something between bronze and modern and have a reason for placing that block into existence.  I don't think very highly of most of the golden age for sure outside of arcades, silver really was the time things got quite good.

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7 hours ago, JamesRobot said:

I would consider '85 to '97 more Silver Age.  I would put the Golden Age from late 70s to '83 when arcade games really hit big.  Space Invaders, Asteroids, Tempest, Pac-Man.  Don't forget the coin shortage in Japan due to the immense popularity of the Space Invaders arcade cabinets.  And then Atari really bringing video games into the home.  The crash of '83 would signify the end of the Golden Age.

This is my opinion. In its original, Greek mythological meaning, the phrase is the first generation. In pop culture, it’s the first period of popularity in the mainstream culture. It doesn’t have to be the best era ever in one’s personal view. It’s more like the first period of quality and the medium gaining a foothold to permanent installation in the collective consciousness.

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11 hours ago, fox said:

.

Silver Age - (Mid 80s-Mid 90s)

Rise of Nintendo as they, Sega, and other evolve the home market.  Arcades still strong but not as much as their boom years outside of the fighting scene.

 

I thought the fighting scene was mid-late 90's. (Along with the rise of arcade light gun games)

Mid 80's and early 90's arcades still had huge genre variety, and kids were spending quarters like crazy at mall arcades, the arcade at Putt-Putt, or at the skating rink.

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Member · Posted

Yeah, this is a tough one because I think you can kind of ask, what was the golden age of 2D, 3D and VR gaming.  VR is stil brugeoning but I think each form of gaming could have it's "golden age" because they are radically different in experience.

Golden age for 2D, imho, is the SNES/Genesis era. 3D is going to be the PS2/GC era and the VR era might not be for another 5-10 years.Disclaimer, I've never played a modern VR game but from what I've observed, it looks like developers are still trying to learn and figure out what type of experiences and gameplay styles work best with VR. Some games are great, others are... neat in their own way but still experimental.

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16 hours ago, JamesRobot said:

I would consider '85 to '97 more Silver Age.  I would put the Golden Age from late 70s to '83 when arcade games really hit big.  Space Invaders, Asteroids, Tempest, Pac-Man.  Don't forget the coin shortage in Japan due to the immense popularity of the Space Invaders arcade cabinets.  And then Atari really bringing video games into the home.  The crash of '83 would signify the end of the Golden Age.

The Nintendo Entertainment System is the catalyst of the Silver Age, bringing the resurgence in popularity, consumer confidence, and a continued profitability of the medium that has not subsided since.  Similar to the Comics Code standard marking the beginning of the Silver Age of comics, Nintendo really instigates quality control in the industry with their seal of quality.  Not that it's the be-all-end-all for quality, we all know there are some weak titles among the NES library, but the industry takes note and quality control becomes the standard, particularly for first party and AAA titles. 

Of course, the continuing issue of shovelware perpetuates in the DS/Wii era and beyond, and really takes over casual and phone gaming, but that is well beyond the Silver Age.  I would say quality control really takes a dive near the end of the PS3/XB360 era as concern for rushing games to market and monetization/microtransactions starts to takes precedence.  Few publishers care about a finished product, if games can just be patched with massive updates and consumers will spend real world money on in-game currency, skins, weapons, DLC, or whatever.

Yup, this is what I came here to say when I saw the topic this morning.

The way I defined it internally is that the "Golden" age would be when things began (like with comics), built the medium, and built up interest in the format.  This would be from the late 50s/early 60s (Tennis for Two & Space War, if you aren't familiar, check them out) all the way through the crash of '83.  After that point, both in the arcade and at home, we entered into the "Silver" age, where characters, themes, etc. that would continue to drive the medium would be introduced and tweaked.  This would be from ~1983 (introduction of the Famicom) to arguably late 1999/early 2000.  Finally, I'd argue that we're currently in the "Bronze" age, starting at the turn of the millennium, with the introduction of the Dreamcast/PS2.  This is arguable, but I'd say that those systems really took major leaps forward with the technology and were really the base of our current/modern systems moreso than the first steps in that direction (PS1, Saturn, etc.).

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I guess it depends how you define golden age, but I'd say the 90s. You get the end of the 8-bit generation which didn't reinvent the wheel, but reinvigorated gaming, the entirety of the 16-bit generation which houses many of the greatest games of all time, and the  transition to 32-bit with the introduction of true three-dimensional, polygonal gaming which is really where we remain today.

That's a lot for one decade! Videogames are rad. 😎

Edited by DoctorEncore
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2 hours ago, DoctorEncore said:

That's a lot for one decade! Videogames are rad. 😎

I think it's pretty crazy that in 1990 most of us were playing peak NES games and maybe some very early 16-bit games, and by 1999 we had the Dreamcast. I don't think you can find a 10-year period that saw such a dramatic jump in technology. What a time to be a gamer!

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1985-1995 for me. I'd say it starts at Super Mario Bros. and ends at the launch of the Playstation when games moved firmly to 3D (essentially the lifespan of the US NES)

Over the lifespan of the NES we got not only the biggest recognizable characters in video games, but the prototypes entire genres have since been based on:
Super Mario Bros
The Legend of Zelda
Metroid
Tetris
Dragon Quest
Sweet Home
John Madden Football
Doom
Double Dragon
Civilization
SimCity
Street Fighter II
Fire Emblem
Herzog Zwei / Dune II (although truly Starcraft is probably still the most important game in the genre)

King's Quest, Pole Position, and Xevious miss my Super Mario Bros. cut off date, but I'll take a dozen of the most important early games in their genre if I miss a handful. I'm not saying the games above are the absolute genesis of their genres, but they are the usually games that cemented the norms for the genre going forward. Just like Superman wasn't the first superhero, but Action Comics 1 is what really kicked off the genre.

I'd put Odyssey, Atari, early computer, and golden age arcades into more of a "Platinum Age" if comparing it to comics. While there was lots of important stuff, I think it's the primordial ooze that set the stage for the golden age. Then I'd broadly say we had the age of 2D genres ('85-'95), the age of 3d genres ('95-'06), then the current age where games have largely shifted to story-based and online experiences ('06-now)

Edited by DefaultGen
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I chose 97 as the cutoff point because we were still getting excellent games between 95 - 97. Chrono Trigger, Yoshi's Island, DKC 2, DKC 3, Kirby Super Star, Super Mario RPG, Mega Man 8, Mega Man X4, and SotN just to name a few. I'd even through in some early 5th gen games like SM 64 and Tomb Raider. Those games had a huge impact on the industry and helped jump start the generation.

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7 hours ago, austin532 said:

I chose 97 as the cutoff point because we were still getting excellent games between 95 - 97. Chrono Trigger, Yoshi's Island, DKC 2, DKC 3, Kirby Super Star, Super Mario RPG, Mega Man 8, Mega Man X4, and SotN just to name a few. I'd even through in some early 5th gen games like SM 64 and Tomb Raider. Those games had a huge impact on the industry and helped jump start the generation.

I chose 98 due to the fact that a LOT of amazing or well regarded games were released that year. Some examples:

Metal Gear Solid, Ocarina of Time, Tenchu, Tekken 3, Resident Evil 2, DDR, Banjo Kazooie, F-Zero X, Rainbow Six, Spyro the Dragon, Crash 2, MediEvil, Grim Fandango, Half Life, Starcraft, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus, Unreal, Baldur’s Gate, Xenogears, Turok 2, Ridge Racer 4, and the destroyer of thumbsticks itself, Mario Party

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