Browsing The Side Of Gaming We Tend To Forget
When we look at the history of games, we often take a look through the arcades, at the early gaming computers, at Atari, Amstrad, Nintendo, and so on. When it comes to PC games, however, there are often sides to the history of how we got where we are today that we tend to ignore.
Web browser gaming has always been there as something of a sideshow, a distraction to most, rather than a passion. Some might consider them one of the more fringe platforms for gaming. However, we want to take a look at just how these unsung heroes of the gaming market might have more of an effect on the industry today than we give credit.
If you were growing up in the early 2000s, then you might remember the most famous flash-game hub of them all: Newgrounds. While a seemingly lawless wasteland, the prototype of today’s anonymous image boards, we saw the first blossoming of browser games making their way into the mainstream. Particularly, we saw Behemoth games, created by Newgrounds founder Tom Fulp, making the move from free browser games to retail console experiences with games like Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers. In fact, the roots of that crossover are no more apparent than in the original Flash incarnation of Alien Hominid, still playable on the site.
When gaming got social
Social media gaming has become a genre in its own right now, with many devoting lists of the best social games to help those click-crazy socialites find their next addictive time sink. The casual gaming market has been growing steadily since games like Candy Crush first appeared on the market. Arguably, we could say that it was these social media games that, when they become mobile responsive, birthed the smartphone gaming market as we know it today.
When the lines blur
Gaming and gambling have always had some connection, but the lines really started to blur thanks to the popularity of Paypal bingo sites and online casinos. Since then, this gamification of gambling and the gamblification of gaming has progressed. The massively popular Overwatch, for instance, uses a pseudo-gambling system in its loot box distribution. Meanwhile, we all remember the CS:Go gambling site conflict that started last year and is still raging.
The genres of tomorrow on the platforms of yesteryear
There are a few modern breakout genres that got their real first start on the browser, as well. In particular, tower defense games like Kingdom Rush have made the move not only from browser to smartphone. Series like Plants Vs. Zombies has now become a “killer app” making main stage appearances at E3. Steam is now loaded with a plethora of “clicker” games that initially seemed to be little more than a joke of a distraction in the breakout title Cookie Clicker.
The browser was where we first started to innovate on a lot of different sides of gaming, from the intersectionality of gaming and gambling to the creation and mainstream population of entirely new genres. Browser games might seem on the decline from what mainstream cultural relevance they may have enjoyed in the past, but it’s worth remembering that the shape a modern gaming takes can often get its start in some surprising places.