1998 vs 2008: How has gaming changed in 10 years?

Seeing as it took almost 40 years for movies to learn how to talk, gaming hasn’t exactly shuffled its feet. It hasn’t even been 40 years since Computer Space became the first commercial game, and what began as little more than dandruff on a black screen is already threatening photo-, audio- and physical realism. So let’s look closer at how times have changed, starting with the year that gave us Dana International, 1998.

In 1998, the future of Sonic was laid out by Sonic R, a Sega Saturn spin-off which traded tight design and pace for a single gimmick: 3D. Not the isometric trickery of Mega Drive’s Sonic 3D, either, but polygons, textures, and the sneaking suspicion that something was about to go terribly wrong.

Sure enough, after mixed success with Sonic Adventure, the purple blur became gaming’s answer to Jar Jar Binks. Scandalised by trash like Sonic Heroes and Sonic The Hedgehog on 360, barely finding his feet in 2008’s Sonic Unleashed, he still makes a killing thanks to “the kids”. Thanks a bunch, kids.

Remember Body Harvest, the alien invasion game for N64? “The freedom!” praised gamers at the time. “The vehicular mayhem! The boundless manslaughter! Whatever will they think of next?” “They”, of course, were DMA Design, best known for Lemmings and soon to become Rockstar North.

What did they think of next? More freedom, more mayhem, more manslaughter, and the three most controversial words in gaming: Grand Theft Auto. Ten years on and there are now ten Rockstar studios scattered around the globe, responsible for over 30 games. And let’s not forget Crackdown, made by DMA founder David Jones and his new company, Realtime Worlds.

In the beginning was the word. And the word was “Forever”. Promised “no later than mid-1998”, the fourth Duke (that it’s now the fifth says it all) was a white-hot prospect for the adult FPS, boasting unprecedented interactivity with its 3D universe.

A decade later and we’re talking more brown-hot, the closest thing to a release being two – that’s two - screenshots in 2008, neither of which made buttocks tremble. Not in the intended manner, at least. It’s as if someone at 3D Realms said, “Make fun of us? We’ll show ya! We’ll finish this game if it’s the last thing we do. Tell ‘em, guys! Guys..?”

As far as technology goes, there’s no better benchmark than the racing game, and none more sophisticated than a racing game by Codemasters. In 1998, the Warwickshire company was pulling away from its bedroom coder days into more complex simulation. The visuals of every Colin McRae Rally and Race Driver game since have been greeted with the same breathless response: “That almost looks like a photograph!”

Now, a decade on from the first CMR, it’s the photographs struggling to keep up, along with the sounds and physics of real world racing. Lost, however, are the real driver names and, tragically, Colin McRae himself.


Well, at least the number’s still correct, even if the cast and roles have changed. Sega was celebrating the magnificence of Dreamcast in 1998; now it’s enjoying its freedom from the hardware race altogether. Sony has gone from brand dominator to: “You’re not getting one of those, Timothy, it’s too expensive and the games are all on that other one.” Nintendo has gone from kids and Mario to pensioners and Toilet Training DS (trust us, it’ll happen). And a little-known company called Microsoft, better known in 1998 for Minesweeper than Halo, is now the hardcore king of the hill.


  • Walkman630 - December 31, 2008 5:10 p.m.

    haha nice to see how much things have changed over the years
  • RonnyLive19881 - December 31, 2008 5:15 p.m.

    ^^^^ Gay I hate you guys that claim first. I take it you never one first place in anything during you school/career part of life.
  • Ell223 - December 31, 2008 5:35 p.m.

    Win But no, i hate you ronny can i just add in the internet insult bomb that is "you're a fag" here thanks
  • ELpork - December 31, 2008 7:25 p.m.

    .......2 screen shots......sad.
  • MacGyver1138 - December 31, 2008 7:41 p.m.

    It is pretty funny to see some of the changes. I wonder if the differences will be so vast in another 10 years?
  • Corsair89 - December 31, 2008 8:10 p.m.

    It's funny what we used to consider to be "games" back then. lol. What's not funny is what people call "games" now. I hate you, Wii.
  • georgeguy - December 31, 2008 9:04 p.m.

    wtf double post (now triple) again? the spam blocker screwed up
  • phoenix_wings - December 31, 2008 9:21 p.m.

    I remember I begged my parents for both a Playstation and a Game Boy. I ended up with an N64. I agree with Skull Splitter and Corsair89 too. It's just too bad that this couldn't have happened a few years ago, that way the sting and hurt of being abandoned by essentially a parent, a teacher, a friend, would have worn off by now.
  • fionnoh - December 31, 2008 9:34 p.m.

    sure back then we had shitty graphics, no online and everything was the size of your head. but back then we didn't have annoying little 13 year olds complaining about other consoles with actual hatred, you'd have sworn the console had raped them as a child!? but hey, you win some you lose some.
  • Thequestion 121 - December 31, 2008 10:01 p.m.

    Wow. It's amazing to see how things have changes by a little or a lot.
  • Life - December 31, 2008 11:32 p.m.

    Hey, that's my Gameboy! Oh, i miss playing Pokemon gold... ;_;
  • Taxtm - December 31, 2008 11:34 p.m.

    HAHAHAHA!!!! It's true! They (Nintendo) went from awesome games like Ocarina of time 10 years ago, to the Imaginary Baby Changing game for the ds my little sister got for Christmas. What the heck, Nintendo?!? Where did the brains at headquarters that gave us gaming gold go off to?
  • air3z - January 1, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    graphics have changed dramacticly
  • bluetears91 - January 1, 2009 5:39 a.m.

    I want my sega. I used to play the lion king on it and had so much fun. shit that was 12 years ago. lol. i was only 6. lol wow. lol
  • WeirdJamFace - January 1, 2009 12:06 p.m.

    hey.. remember the Sega CD well.. i reckon that in another 10 years we are gonna have something like that... except it doesn't totally suck. Or we just have graphics that are nearly impossible to distinquish between real-life and games. WHO AGREES?!?!?!????!!!??
  • elmatto26 - January 1, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    I still have all my ps1 games and the console and thay all work the same as they did in 98
  • rybell - January 1, 2009 11:51 p.m.

    wow i remember playing unreal tournaments. back then those graphics were amazing
  • ssj4raditz - January 2, 2009 12:30 a.m.

    Duke Nukem Forever needs to come out... *cries*
  • Kilr - January 2, 2009 3:43 a.m.

    yeah, i know. I remember when the N64 was the coolest thing ever Its hard to imagine that in 10 years people will look back on gears of war and halo 3 and say that those graphics suck
  • crazyqazqaz - January 2, 2009 9:59 a.m.

    Brilliant artical G.R.!! I remember my gameboy and pokemon gold (an awesome game!!). LOL!!

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