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Moments in Games History

23 April 2014
Games Timeline

Explore our timeline of landmark accomplishments and significant moments in video gaming history.

Watching the video game industry grow over the last 60 years, we have witnessed a story full of innovation and achievement. Renowned developers and designers have made pivotal breakthroughs over the years, with games now considered a serious artform in their own right.

From the earliest known computer games to the rise of independent studios and designers, we look over some of the most significant moments in gaming history; not only covering landmark achievements, but also the Bitish impact on the industry.

BAFTA’s Games History:

The first British Academy Interactive Entertainment Awards was introduced in 1998, to recognise the achievements of multimedia entertainment, including video gaming. After five ceremonies, the awards was split into two in 2004; one to recognise the best DVDs, websites, and technical innovation, and another that focused on the world of games. Ten awards ceremonies on and the British Academy Games Awards continues to strive with the introduction of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition and our Inside Games showcase in recent years.


1952 - History of Games

UK-based developer A.S. Douglas created OXO, a digital simulation of noughts and crosses and the earliest known game to display visuals on a video monitor.



1960 Spacewar

1960 - Spacewar!

The two-player digital game Spacewar! is released, in which each player takes control of a ship and attempts to destroy the other.

Ralph Baer built the first commercial video game console that is able to work on standard televisions, known as the Magnavox Odyssey, or ‘Brown Box’.

1967 Magnavox

1967 Magnavox Odyssey

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1972 Pong

This was not only the first sports game developed, but also one of the first commercially successful games in the golden age of arcade gaming, leading to the popularisation of the medium.

One of the co-founders of Atari, Nolan Bushnell received a BAFTA Fellowship for his achievements throughout videogame history, and has also discussed the past and future of the industry in ‘A Life in Pixels’.

1972 Ponggame

Maze War, one of the earliest known first-person shooter games, was released. Maze War
1975 Dnd dnd, based on Dungeons and Dragons, was also notable for being the first interactive game to feature what would later be referred to as ‘bosses’.
1978 Space Invaders

The golden age of arcades starts just as one of the earliest and more successful shooting games, Space Invaders, releases.

1978 Spaceinvaders
Activision©Flickr/Sascha Grant 1979 Activision

Activision was established as the world's first independent developer and distributor of games for consoles. The company would go on to receive multiple nominations and wins from BAFTA for their franchises, including Call of Duty and Skylanders.

Watch Activision's classic Grand Prix game in action!

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The 1980s saw SEGA and Nintendo enter the industry in earnest, with consoles such as the Master System and NES. Arcade games continued to be on the rise with games such as Donkey Kong, and launches of franchises like Mega Man and Metal Gear.

Sega 2©Flickr/Lee Byway

1980s Mega Man
1980 Pacman

The arcade golden age continues with the launch of Pacman; one of the most classic video game icons of all time, along with other arcade games including Tetris, Q-Bert and Tron.

1980 Pacman
1983 Nes Console

Nintendo NES©Flickr/Dennis Burger

Nintendo begins its rise to prominence with the release of the NES console.

1983 Nes Console

Super Mario©Flickr/Matteo Bittanti

Super Mario Bros was released to critical acclaim and is now seen as highly influential and significant to the video game world, especially within the platforming and side-scrolling genres. Its mechanics and characters later expanded to other Nintendo titles such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart. BAFTA later awarded Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto a Fellowship for his work on some of the most influential games and franchises of all time.

See all BAFTA nominations and wins for the Mario franchise.

1985 Super Mario

1985 Supermariobros

Re-live the original Super Mario Bros. with this video!

1989 Final Fantasy Having now released 14 games in its main series, Final Fantasy is regarded as one of the most influential and successful RPGs on the NES, playing a major role in popularising the genre.
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Sonic - Master System©Flickr/Lee Byway

This decade was a landmark for Nintendo, with the release of their N64, SNES and GameBoy Colour consoles, as well as the birth of the Pokemon phenomenon. Other significant games included Goldeneye 007, Chrono Trigger and Sonic the Hedgehog, while the introduction of the PlayStation changed the landscape of games once again.

Game Boy Colour©Flickr/Julia Taylor

1991 Ea Sports

After Electronic Arts was established in 1982, they formed a sub-label called EA Sports Network, releasing games series such as FIFA. The franchise has won and been nominated for many BAFTA awards, recently winning the Sports Award with FIFA 14 at this year’s Games Awards.

EA logo
Playstation One©Flickr/barité Videojuegos playstation

Sony released its first home console, the PlayStation, joining other competing consoles from SEGA and Nintendo.

1996 Tomb Raider

The first Tomb Raider game set a template for many other 3D action-adventure games that would follow. The creators of the game would later be recognised by BAFTA for their personal contribution to the industry, at the second Interactive Awards.

Tomb Raider
1997 Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games Logo Wide

DMA Design developed the first game in the Grand Theft Auto series in 1997, before becoming Rockstar North after the massive success of their third installment in the franchise. Since then, Rockstar Games titles have received multiple wins and nominations, with GTA V recently winning three BAFTA Games Awards including Best British Game in 2014. Rockstar Games received a BAFTA Fellowship that same year, in recognition of their contributions to both the franchise and the gaming industry.

1998 BAFTA Interactive This year saw the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards being launched, to recognise the achievements of multimedia entertainment, including video gaming. The first year saw developers Rare, best known for Banjo Kazooie and Goldeneye 007, win two awards for Best Game and Best Developer.
1999 Legend Of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda series was launched by Nintendo in 1986, and won four awards in BAFTA’s Interactive Awards for Ocarina of Time. The series would continue to achieve multiple nominations and wins, notably in the Adventure Game category for The Wind Waker at BAFTA’s first Games Awards.

Zelda Ocarina of TimeFlickr/Bryan Ochalla
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Xbox 360
PlayStation 3Flickr/David Lindecrantz

Competition between console manufacturers was fierce throughout the decade with the release of machines such as the Xbox (and later the 360), the PS2 and 3, and Nintendo’s Gamecube and Wii. The world of handheld games was also vibrant, with Nintendo’s DS succeeding the immensely popular Game Boy, and the launch of the first iPhones marking the beginning of the smartphone boom.

Nintendo Wii

2001 Xbox

Microsoft make their first foray into the world of home consoles with the launch of the Xbox.

Xbox©Flickr/Joel Neff
Video Games AwardsBAFTA

See the full list of Games Awards winners & nominees in 2004.

2004 Bafta Games Awards

In 2004 the Interactive Entertainment Awards was split into separate ceremonies for Interactive and Games. The first year of the dedicated Games Awards saw Rockstar Games winning six awards for GTA Vice City, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD winning Adventure Game, and Call of Duty winning the Best Game award.

2005 Valve

Game developers Valve won six awards, including Best Game, for their work on Half Life 2. Valve would go on to great awards success again with the Portal series, and co-founder of Valve, Gabe Newell, would later become a BAFTA Fellow for his exceptional and creative contribution to the gaming industry.

Gabe Newell  - BAFTA Fellow in 2013BAFTA/ Richard Kendal

Valve logo

Academy Magazine: iPhone 2007 iPhone

The launch of the iPhone and the introduction of the App Store shortly after in 2008, gives developers a new platform to create and distribute handheld games.

Assassin's Creed Logo©Flickr/yasinkoker53 Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series launches and continues to be one of the biggest game franchises out there. Its latest game in the series was recently nominated in four categories including Best Game at the 2014 BAFTA Games Awards.
2009 Media Molecule



2009 saw Media Molecule win their first BAFTA with the critically acclaimed LittleBigPlanet. Since then they have continued to receive multiple nominations and wins, more recently at the 2014 Games Awards where they won three BAFTAs for Tearaway.

Read our interview with Rex Crowle, game designer at Media Molecule & Breakthrough Brit.

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The 8th generation of consoles begins, with the releases of the Wii U, PS4 and the Xbox One. The rise of digital distribution and crowdfunding also opens up exciting opportunities for developers, ushering in a boom in independent development with the release of titles such as The Room series, Fez, Dear Esther and Papers Please.

PlayStation 4©Flickr/Penn State

Xbox One©Flickr/Penn State

2010 Naughty Dog

US developers Naughty Dog were the big winners at BAFTA in 2010 with four awards for their second installment of the Uncharted series. They will continue to win awards in 2014 for their latest title, The Last of Us, including Best Game.

 Story Winner - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Young Game Designers logo BAFTA launches the Young Game Designers initiative, helping the next generation of talent bring their game ideas to life.
2012 Minecraft

Soon after the launch of Minecraft in 2011, its creator Markus Persson (aka Notch) received a Special Award from BAFTA for his notable contribution to the the evolution of games.

Special Award Recipient: Markus PerssonBAFTA/Steve Butler

Minecraft Screenshot


2013 Indie Games

Thatgamecompany were the big winners of the 2013 BAFTA Games Awards with five wins for Journey including Artistic Achievement. The awards also saw indie games such as Fez, Thomas Was Alone and Dear Esther receive nominations for their acclaimed work.

Journey Game
2014 Bafta Games Awards


See the full list of Games Awards winners & nominees in 2014.

The British Academy Games Awards not only showed The Last of Us winning five awards - along with Tearaway and GTA V winning three each - but also introduced the Inside Games Showcase, demonstrating up and coming games such as Titanfall, Metal Gear Solid 5, and Infamous: Second Son.

Grand Theft Auto V

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