The Rabies Blog

Xbox 360 community-friendly blog

Discovery Channel documentary on videogames

Finally, a documentary that won’t make you wish you were trapped in a fiery automobile instead of watching. The Discovery Channel has put together a five-part special entitled “Rise of the Videogame” which catalogues the evolution of videogames from the early 70’s through today. The first episode will premiere on Wednesday, November 21st at 8 PM (ET/PT) with new episodes to follow every Wednesday night through December 19th.

Here’s the full schedule:

Level One: It Started with a Twitch – Wednesday, November 21 at 8 PM (ET/PT)

The videogame started not with a bang but with a ping. Unlike other forms of entertainment, videogames turn the viewer into a player who actively shapes the outcome of their experience. At first video games and the creators were as misunderstood by the public as rock & roll in its infancy. But those closest to the videogame business persevered and never lost sight of the ability videogames had to become a dominant form of entertainment.

Level Two: The Rise of Mario – Wednesday, November 28 at 8 PM (ET/PT)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, instead of controlling spaceships and tennis rackets, videogame technology allowed players to command recognizable characters with real faces and back stories. This paralleled the importance of the hero’s journey that was popular in movies of the time like “Rocky” and “Star Wars,” as well as mirrored the rise of individualism and conservative meritocracy, where one man can make a difference. Game creators were liberated to create more complex videogames with heroic journeys, and Japanese creators like Shigeru Miyamoto rose to prominence with star characters Super Mario, Luigi and Zelda.

Level Three: The World is Yours – Wednesday, December 5 at 8 PM (ET/PT)

It was a foreign concept to early game designers but with games like “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” and “DOOM”, video games grew from their primitive 2-D roots into richly detailed 3-D worlds. These groundbreaking 3-D games led the industry down new paths both thrilling and troubling. Critics questioned if these games were getting too real, too violent and too addictive. For the first time game designers had to grapple with tough questions.

Level Four: Power to the Players – Wednesday, December 12 at 8 PM (ET/PT)

Since the invention of the computer man has feared “the machine” and its ability to think. But a computer’s unique computational power has also led to the development of seminal games that are unpredictable, intelligent and malleable. “God games” like SimCity and Civilization simulate entire worlds and let players experiment with cause and effect. Other designers have used artificial intelligence to create lifelike characters and worlds that shape themselves to each player. And some games are so technologically advanced that they have become tools for learning, or better yet, creative expression.

Level Five: Can a Game Make You Cry? – Wednesday, December 19 at 8 PM (ET/PT)

Can a computer game make you cry? With the introduction of PlayStation 2’s “emotion engine” in 1999 game developers had the technology to enable deep, moving stories that tugged at gamers’ heartstrings. The rise of online virtual world games added another emotional dimension, letting players make real connections (including marriages) through a virtual game and helping them escape a world rife with violence and terror.

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November 5, 2007 - Posted by | Community

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