History of video games/2000-2009


Internet Gaming matures


In late 1999 EverQuest was released, popularizing MMORPGs.[1] The 2000's saw the release of popular MMORPG's such as World of Warcraft, and Runescape.[2] These MMORPGs offered unique social experiences for their players and resulted in in game social institutions being formed.[2]

New Economics of games

EVE Online in 2008.

The concept of free to play games primarily downloaded on the internet with small paid additions, microtransactions, is refined. This strategy begins to be seriously pursued by major game companies like EA by the end of the decade.[3]

Companies begin seriously marketing small DLC, with incidents like Horse Armor DLC for Oblivion initially attracting an incredulous response for selling something that did not include story or other additional content,[4] and becoming a common joke online by the end of the decade.[5][6]

Virtual in-game currencies that can be officially exchanged for real currencies or to replace membership costs emerge in games like Second Life and EVE Online[7][8]. In part due to concerns of inflation, EVE Online developer CCP Games hires an economist to manage the in-game economy.[9] In games that prohibit trading in game currency for real currency like World of Warcraft, and to a lesser extent games that allow it like EVE Online, under the table deals and grey markets for in game currency obtained by techniques like gold farming arise.[8][10] In game thefts for real world gain begin catching the public eye.[11]

Games as Apps, Mobile gaming in the 2000's

Tetris running on an iPod music player in 2006.

Games for non-gaming mobile computer devices gained popularity, often running on mobile media players like iPods, or on basic feature phones.[12]

Later the introduction of smartphones and application stores on them made mobile gaming more accessible.[13]

  • Rhythm and Music games

Role Playing Games


Role Playing Games continued to evolve during this decade, and would incorporate technological features to enhance storytelling, such as increased use of voice acting, better CGI, and larger maps. 3D RPGs became quite common on PC and home console, while 2D RPGs remained common on handheld devices, typically reaching graphical parity with home RPGs of the 1990's while incorporating improved understanding of game design.

First Person Shooters


While First Person Shooters continued to be popular on PC, innovations in controllers and console capabilities lead to a boom in console first person shooters. These console shooters were typically slower paced then their PC counterparts, but found massive popularity and adoption among gamers.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games


While Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) emerged before the 2000's, this decade was when they achieved mass popularity. Most notably World of Warcraft was released this decade.

Open World


As hardware increasingly became more powerful, game developers soon were able to craft comprehensive, vast 3D environments much more easily than before. Open World games blur the line between a subgenre, a design choice, and a game mechanic. Open world mechanics often were mixed with other genres for interesting results.



One of the most notable video games to be released in the 2000s, despite the fact that it was only a paid public alpha, is Markus "Notch" Persson's 2009 masterpiece Minecraft, which was an instant success since the time of its release and has since become an ever-evolving video game running on various different platforms - eventually becoming one of the most popular games of all time. The 2009 version evolved in what was later known as the "Java Edition", due to the fact that it was completely written in Java, although this will be explored in later chapters. Earlier in the decade, similar games attempted to capture this idea of an open world where the player could do anything, though far less popularity.[14] Minecraft was influenced by the earlier 2009 voxel building game Infiniminer.[15][14] 2002 saw the beginnings of the game Dwarf Fortress.[14]

GTA and clones


Other, earlier, games that had enormous success in the 2000s were Rockstar Games's Grand Theft Auto III (2001), IV (2008) and the intermediate chapters Vice City (2002) and San Andreas (2004). They have spawned the GTA clone video game genre, which also encompasses many other video games, all characterized by being a hybrid of third-person shooters and driving simulators and often focusing on organized crime and mafia storylines.

There was a large demand for GTA-style games on the go, which included the well-received, but controversial, 2006 video game adaptation of The Godfather and its 2009 sequel, leading to innovative attempts to replicate the gameplay on very underpowered handheld hardware. This resulted in the release of acclaimed titles such as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars in 2009 or the Payback clone duology (2001-2012).



Handheld Era

Samples of Tantalum, a key element in handheld electronics of the early 2000s.

High demand for handheld electronics of all kinds causes a severe shortage of the chemical element Tantalum.[16]

The People's Republic of China bans video game consoles


As a measure intended to protect the mental health of youth in China, game consoles are banned in the People's Republic of China.[17][18] This ban did not apply in Hong Kong or Macau, and consoles were often openly sold to wealthy gamers in grey market storefronts despite the ban during its later years.[19] There were also a few exceptions made, allowing Sony and Nintendo to make limited sanctioned attempts to enter the Chinese market.[20] Still, this restriction lead to computer and mobile games becoming the dominant mode of play in the country.[21]



War on Terror


The horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001 had huge repercussions on both culture and the global economy.[22][23] In response to the attacks, many games are delayed and edited out of respect to the victims of the tragedy.[24]


In the 2000's, gaming web comics became an important part of gamer culture. Pictured is a panel from the webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del.

Game Jams


In early 2002 Game Jams begin taking off with developers. In Oakland, California the 0th Indie Game Jam is held from March 15th, to March 18th.[25] The first Ludum Dare follows shortly in April.[26]


Graham a 2003 oil painting by artist Kristoffer Zetterstrand inspired by Pixel Art in games.

Strategy Guides Peak


By 2003 the rush to write official strategy guides that release either on or before the launch of a game lead to poor quality writing in such guides.[27] Furthermore some strategy guides for Square Enix games required use of a non-free website in conjunction with the guide[28], which was problematic in an era before laptops and mobile devices were common, and when desktop computers were often kept in separate rooms from a television and console. Meanwhile a popular unofficial strategy guide website GameFAQs is acquired by CNET.[29]



World of Warcraft goes Viral


2005 was a landmark year for World of Warcraft, including a number of events which would have broader influence outside the game.

In 2005 a bug in the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft leads to the player transmissible status effect Corrupted Blood not always disappearing after a specific encounter, thus spreading across the game world and infecting over a million player characters in a virtual epidemic.[30]

The event became a subject of academic research by medical professionals, as the event was essentially a model of a real life epidemic.[31] In particular observations from the Corrupted Blood incident would later be used in 2020 by researchers looking to understand decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic.[32]

A video of the infamous total party wipe in the Leeroy Jenkins World of Warcraft raid gained enormous online popularity following its posting on the 10th of May 2005, though in 2017 the video was confirmed to have been staged.[33][34] The name Leeroy Jenkins became somewhat of an icon, and was used to refer to players who charged into dangerous situations with blind enthusiasm.




Great Recession


The Great Recession hits the economy in 2007, wiping out savings and deeply hurting the stock market.[35] Sales of video games and gaming hardware subsequently drop.[36] Compared to other industries, the gaming industry was relatively resilient.[37]



Tabula Rasa in Space


The creator of Ultima, Richard Garriott, flies to the International Space Station as a tourist.[38] He attempts to play the game Tabula Rasa into space, but this is denied for security reasons, bringing the code of Tabula Rasa with him and broadcasting a message to players instead.[39][40][41]







  1. "Engineering Everquest". IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  2. a b Silva, Matthew De. "What I learned from getting scammed by 12-year-olds". Quartz. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  3. Schiesel, Seth (21 January 2008). "The Video Game May Be Free, but to Be a Winner Can Cost Money (Published 2008)". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  4. "Download Oblivion's horse armor, for a price". Engadget. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  5. "Oblivion Horse Armor On Sale For Twice The Price". Kotaku. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  6. "Industry must address horse armour 'joke'". MCV/DEVELOP. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  7. "Virtual Economics". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  8. a b "EVE Online player loses USD 19,000 in shady virtual currency deal". Engadget. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  9. Hillis, Scott (16 August 2007). "Virtual world hires real economist". Reuters. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  10. "China's 'Gold Farmers' Play a Grim Game". NPR.org. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  11. "Gamer robs virtual bank to get real-world cash CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  12. Hill, Jason (4 September 2008). "The rise and rise of casual gaming". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  13. Wortham, Jenna (5 December 2009). "Apple's Game Changer, Downloading Now (Published 2009)". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  14. a b c "The good, the bad, the Minecraft: All the inspiration and clones you’ll ever need". VentureBeat. 15 September 2012. https://venturebeat.com/2012/09/15/minecraft-inspiration-and-clones/. 
  15. "Minecraft: 10 Facts About The Game That Every Fan And Newcomer Should Know About". Game Rant. 25 October 2020. https://gamerant.com/minecraft-facts-about-the-game/. 
  16. Roos, Gina (January 31st, 2000). "A Serious Case Of the Shorts". https://www.eetimes.com/a-serious-case-of-the-shorts/. 
  17. "China lifts ban on foreign video games consoles". BBC News. 7 January 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-25635719. 
  18. "China suspends ban on video game consoles after more than a decade" (in en). Reuters. 7 January 2014. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-gamesconsoles/china-suspends-ban-on-video-game-consoles-after-more-than-a-decade-idUSBREA0606C20140107. 
  19. "Boy, Is China's Illegal Gray Market Blatant" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/boy-is-chinas-illegal-gray-market-blatant-5883693. 
  20. "China's complicated history with video games: when a ban isn't really a ban". Engadget. https://www.engadget.com/2013-01-30-china-console-ban.html. 
  21. Kharpal, Arjun (16 August 2021). "Game consoles were once banned in China. Now Chinese developers want a slice of the $49 billion pie" (in en). CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/16/chinese-games-developers-eye-a-slice-of-49-billion-console-market.html. 
  22. "Events of 9/11 Affected U.S. Culture in Ways Both Clear and Obscure". www.trincoll.edu. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  23. Brainard, Lael (NaN). "Globalization in the Aftermath: Target, Casualty, Callous Bystander?". Brookings. Retrieved 14 December 2020. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  24. "How 9/11 Affected Games bit-tech.net". bit-tech.net. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  25. "Technology Inspires Creativity: Indie Game Jam Inverts Dogma 2001!" (in en). www.gamasutra.com. https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2989/technology_inspires_creativity_.php. 
  26. "Get Your Game On with Ludum Dare: Interview with Mike Kasprzak (Part..." Intel. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  27. "Decline of Guides". web.archive.org. 8 September 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  28. "GameSpy.com - Article". web.archive.org. 17 June 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  29. "GameFAQs Acquired by CNET - Slashdot". games.slashdot.org. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  30. "Corrupted blood incident—a not-so-virtual epidemic in a virtual world : Networks Course blog for INFO 2040/CS 2850/Econ 2040/SOC 2090". https://blogs.cornell.edu/info2040/2016/11/28/corrupted-blood-incident-a-not-so-virtual-epidemic-in-a-virtual-world/. 
  31. Oultram, Stuart (1 December 2013). "Virtual plagues and real-world pandemics: reflecting on the potential for online computer role-playing games to inform real world epidemic research". Medical Humanities. 39 (2): 115–118. doi:10.1136/medhum-2012-010299. ISSN 1473-4265. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  32. Elker, Jhaan. "World of Warcraft experienced a pandemic in 2005. That experience may help coronavirus researchers.". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2020/04/09/world-warcraft-experienced-pandemic-2005-that-experience-may-help-coronavirus-researchers/. 
  33. "The Makers Of 'Leeroy Jenkins' Didn't Think Anyone Would Believe It Was Real" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/the-makers-of-leeroy-jenkins-didnt-think-anyone-would-b-1821570730. 
  34. "Leeroy Jenkins Meme is 10 Years Old". Time. https://time.com/3855242/leeroy-jenkins-world-of-warcraft-meme/. 
  35. Merle, Renae. "A guide to the financial crisis — 10 years later". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  36. Richtel, Matt (11 June 2009). "Video Games Aren't Recession-Proof". Bits Blog. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  37. Terdiman, Daniel. "Is the video game industry recession-proof?". CNET. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  38. "What Did Richard Garriott Do In Space?". Kotaku. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  39. "Video Games in Space Nixed Over Fears of Space Station Hacking". Kotaku. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  40. "Garriott: 'Operation Immortality' Good Substitute For Playing Tabula Rasa In Space". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  41. "Garriott Sends Coded Message From Space". Wired. Retrieved 21 November 2020.

1990-1999 · 2010-2019