I tweeted about this a couple nights ago but in the last couple weeks Play the Past surpassed the 200,000 all-time view mark, a huge milestone for the website. I believe that the success of this site and other sites like it are indicative of the growing interest in history in video games. In that same light, while academia has begun to integrate video games into their realm (as is evident from our site), historical inquiry has infiltrated the main stream video game journalism and to great success.
In October of 2013, Colin Moriarty of IGN (@notaxation) published the first part of his five part series on the History of Naughty Dog, the famous studio behind Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted and The Last of Us. The series is still incomplete with the final part coming soon but I highly encourage you to check it out now (it can be found here). It is a long piece but well worth taking the time to read it. It is very well written and really does justice to how far the studio has come from its roots in the 80’s. Colin Moriarty’s microhistories began in September of 2011 with the History of Bend Studio and will continue with the History of Sucker Punch Studios coming this year.
I keep up with a lot of the content from IGN’s editors and I learned in some of the editors’ informal podcast, “The Game Over Greggy Show,” that Colin Moriarty has a great love for history. In this same podcast he said that before joining IGN, he was deeply involved with history and from what I can tell may have been a history major and/or grad student. In this portion of a Game Over Greggy Show, Moriarty mentions that his editors have allowed him to combine his interest in history and his interest in games with these pieces, something that I and likely many of my colleagues here can relate to.
The reason I brought up these articles and in particular his History of Naughty Dog is to note that history’s marriage with video games is growing rapidly. Historians and history enthusiasts are slowly finding their way into the field of video game journalism and the results are cool microhistories like the ones that Colin Moriarty has worked on over the last few years. The history of video games is a rich and extensive subject. Some books like Tristan Donovan’s Replay: The History of Video Games (Also an excellent read) provide a great overall history of video games but as I will discuss a little next Wednesday with the preservation of Twitch Plays Pokemon, some of the more intricate and small events, people or places in video game history are being preserved.
As this trend continues we may see more histories of important gaming events like a history of E3 (of which I’d like to research someday) or the GDC or other video game community events. We have already seen histories of video game series, consoles and now developers and these histories are only adding to what we understand as to the history of the video game medium.
Links to Colin’s histories for those interested are here: