想要确定电子游戏究竟何时诞生，绝非一件易事。说到早期的作品，常常会有人提及诞生于 1958 年的《双人网球》（Tennis for Two），亦或是 1962 年的《太空大战！》（Spacewar!）和 1950 年的《大脑伯蒂》（Bertie the Brain）。这些作品都有它们的价值。
本书则将故事的起点放在了 1975 年，这一年，家用电脑柏拉图（PLATO）上诞生了至今尚存的第一款 CRPG。同样，这也是个很方便展开阐述的时间点，因为电子游戏革命正是从 70 年代后半叶才真正开始腾飞，并通过家用电脑，主机和街机广泛传播的。
以米罗华奥德赛（Magnavox Odyssey）为首的游戏主机最开始出现于 1972 年。这些机器十分粗糙，只能运行Pong 或者其他一些预制在硬件中、非常简单的类似作品。
第二代主机引入了 ROM 卡带的概念，使得厂商可以像今天的业界一样，为主机持续开发新的游戏。尽管起步缓慢，但是，随着Enduro, River Raid，Pitfall 以及Space Invaders 这些经典作品的出现，雅达利 2600 表现出大受欢迎的前景。
另一方面，那时候的电脑依然还是只能在大学、大型公司以及研究所中见到的重型设备。尽管也有一些较小的型号，但要么价格昂贵，要么性能低下，甚至连 BASIC 也无法运行。这种局面直到牛郎星 8800（Altair 8800）出现才有所改变。
这台机器体积小巧、价格便宜（对一台电脑来说）、性能也足以投入实用，售出了好几千台，是第一款取得商业成功的家用电脑。随后，赫赫有名的“1977 年家用电脑三巨头” Apple II、Commodore PET 和 TRS-80 也接连登场。
相比面向爱好者的 Altair 8800，这三台机器都是以能够大规模生产为目标而设计的，并且将没有技术背景的普通用户也纳入为受众。然而，尽管身为比主机更全能的通用机，它们售价还是非常昂贵，使用方式也极其复杂。除了一些十分简单的应用和游戏之外，厂商也无法为用户提供什么功能。
尽管它们取得了丰厚的利润，但主要的客户还是企业，玩家或者爱好者，并且它们的流行也只是相对而言的—— TRS-90 售出了 20 万台，与此同时，雅达利 2600 的销量已经高达三千万台。
电脑游戏本身当时也只是被视为一些稀罕玩意儿。只有很少一部分稀有的商业作品会被塞进密封袋里包装出售，大部分电脑游戏的来源是科技杂志—— 他们会花上数页刊载游戏的 BASIC 代码，方便人们照猫画虎，在自己的电脑上重现这些作品。
当时的街机也还是一门小生意，甚至还不如弹珠台受欢迎。接下来的数年里，街机市场稳步增长，一直到 1979 年，随着《太空侵略者》Space Invaders 的大红大紫一举腾飞，迈入黄金时代。
of the digital invasion
It's no easy task to pinpoint the birth of video games. Tennis for Two, created in 1958, is an often-cited starting point, while others name 1962's Spacewar! or 1950's Bertie the Brain. All have their own merit.
Since the first surviving CRPGs were developed in 1975 for PLATO, that will be the starting point of this book. Which is convenient, since the second half of the 70s was when the video game revolution really took off, spreading across home computers, video game consoles and arcades.
Consoles began to appear in 1972, led by the Magnavox Odyssey. These were very crude machines, mostly only capable of running Pong and other very similar games pre-built into the hardware.
The second generation of consoles introduced the concept of ROM cartridges, allowing for companies to continuously develop new games for their machines, much like today's consoles. While it had a slow start, the Atari 2600 would become a massive hit thanks to the arrival of classic games like Enduro, River Raid, Pitfall and Space Invaders.
Computers, on the other hand, were still huge mainframes kept in universities, large companies and research centers. Some smaller models existed, but they were either prohibitively expensive or too slow to even handle BASIC. This began to change with the Altair 8800.
Small, cheap (for a computer) and with enough power to be actually useful, it sold thousands of units and was the first commercially successful home computer. On its heels came the Apple II, Commodore PET and TRS-80 – the famous “1977 trinity” of home computers.
While the Altair 8800 was made for hobbyists, these three machines were built for mass production, aimed at nontechnical users. However, although they much more versatile than a games console, home computers were expensive, extremely complicated to use and still struggled to offer their users something other than very simple applications and games.
They were highly profitable, but still sold mostly to business, gamers or hobbyists, and their popularity was relative – while the TRS-80 sold 200,000 units, the Atari 2600 sold 30 million units.
Computer games themselves were also little more than curiosities. A few, rare commercial titles were sold inside ziplock bags, but most came from technical magazines – they contained pages filled with BASIC code that people would type in their computers, recreating the games.
Arcades were also still a small business, less popular than pinball machines. They would grow steadily over the next few years, then explode with Space Invaders in 1979, ushering in a golden age for arcades.
In five years, video games went from Pong to a rich ecosystem with multiple genres, platforms and audiences. And this was just the start.