KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Forget fancy graphics and hours-long story lines, the first generation of gaming consoles left much to the imagination.
"You'd have a black screen with just white simple block graphics," said Token Game Tavern owner Chris Barry. "You had your games like Pong and Space Invaders."
In the late 1970s, Atari brought gaming out of the arcade and into the living room.
"It had a decent joystick. You could play it with any style of television. There was a lot of nostalgia even though the games didn't look anything like the arcades," said Alexander Ward, a pinball enthusiast who's been collecting games since 1987.
The convenience factor didn't outweigh the more-advanced graphics you could find in the arcade at the time. By 1983, the video game industry had tanked, making way for new companies like Nintendo and Sega.
"In January of 1986, I walked into a KMART, and they had a Nintendo Entertainment System in the television department. Even though they had Atari and Coleco in their so-called toy and game department, Nintendo was trying to sell the Nintendo Entertainment System as a piece of furniture that goes along with your television and all your other accessories, not a gaming system," Ward said.
This third generation of consoles brought with it games like The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest and Super Mario Brothers.
"The controller was new. The first controller I had ever held that didn't have a joystick. My muscle memory wasn't there yet, so it felt weird. It felt different, but it felt good after playing it a lot," Ward said.
"As we got into the 2000s, that's when Nintendo had a console, Sony had a console, Microsoft was coming out with a console. PC gaming was really popular. So, you had everything you needed at home now, and that's when I started to see the arcades I played at in high school start to close down," Barry said.
As the fourth and fifth generation consoles began getting released, video games took on elaborate story lines with 3D graphics.
"The PlayStation came out when I was in college. The first game I played was Battle Arena Toshinden. It was a virtual fighter game and had 3D graphics in an isometric style that would rotate. I was like 'oh this is the future,'" Ward said.
Games like Wii Sports and Guitar Hero brought a physical aspect to what used to be a couch past time.
Now, instead of playing your friends, you could play anyone in the world through the internet.
As we look at this latest generation of consoles, the eighth generation, and look back on where it all started, there's no telling what will come next.