OMNI Throwback: The Future of Gaming

By in Technology

OMNI Magazine explored the future of the gaming industry in 1991.

Written By

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein studied at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. His parents forced him to go to law school though he always fashioned himself a sci-fi writer. He accepted a position at a prestigious law firm. While almost every working hour is spent drafting documents and making reports, Josh spends his nights dreaming of a galaxy far, far away.

Flailing about with a Wii remote playing virtual tennis or yelling profanities through the small mic attached to your headphones while attempting the perfect kill shot in Halo, do not compare to the suave style of these gaming products featured in this 1990's OMNI article. These excerpts and images come straight from the original article. Believe it or not, most of the phone numbers still connect to the corresponding headquarters. I wouldn't suggest ordering any of these without doing a bit more research, considering the price may now be incredibly higher or lower than originally listed.
The history of video games goes as far back as the early 1950's, when academics began designing simple games and simulations as part of their computer science research. Gaming, however, did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970's, when arcade video games, gaming consoles, and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since then, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern culture in most parts of the world. As of 2015, there are eight generations of video game consoles, with the latest generation including Nintendo's Wii U, Microsoft's Xbox One, and Sony's PlayStation 4. Since the release of smartphones, mobile gaming has been a driving factor for games to reach out to people not before interested in gaming, as well as people not able to afford dedicated hardware.
The term "video game" has evolved over the decades from a purely technical definition to a general concept defining a new class of interactive entertainment. Technically, for a product to be a video game, there must be a video signal transmitted to a cathode ray tube that creates a rasterized image on a screen. This definition would preclude early computer games that outputted results to a printer or teletype rather than a display, any game rendered on a vector-scan monitor, any game played on a modern high definition display, and most handheld game systems.
From a technical standpoint, these would more properly be called "electronic games" or "computer games." Today, however, the term "video game" has completely shed its purely technical definition and encompasses a wider range of technology. While still rather ill-defined, the term "video game" now generally encompasses any game played on hardware built with electronic logic circuits that incorporates an element of interactivity and outputs the results of the player's actions to a display. Going by this broader definition, the first video games appeared in the early 1950's and were tied largely to research projects at universities and large corporations.


The hands free system opens up Nintendo video games to a new lesion of users by using air pressure and chin movements to control the system. Cost: $175. Contact L Nintendo of America, Inc., Box 97032, Redmond, WA 98073-9732; (800) 255-3700.
This is the Hands Free, a controller setup manufactured by Nintendo for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It consists of a bulky controller that is literally strapped to the player's chest. It allows physically disabled gamers to play NES games. The con: while doing so, they look like a Doctor Who villain. D-pad control is replicated by a long "stick" that's moved by the player's mouth/tongue, while the A & B buttons were ingeniously controlled by "sipping" and "blowing" through a small pipe. The Hands Free was released in 1989, and even back then cost a ton, retailing for $179 (with a NES) or $120 (for just the Hands Free). These days, you'll find them going for as much as $600.


SNK’s Neo-Geo: for the look of the best arcade games. Cost: $649. Contact: SNK, Los Angeles, CA; (800) 253- 6665.
The Neo Geo is a cartridge-based arcade system board and home video game console released on April 26, 1990 by Japanese game company SNK Corporation. Although it is a member of the fourth generation of video game consoles, it is the first system in the Neo Geo family, which ran throughout the 1990s before being revived in December 2012 with the Neo Geo X handheld and home system.









Line up your target and destroy it with a word. The LaserScope communicates with Nintendo systems and Zapper games. Cost: $39.95. Contact: Konami Inc., Buffalo Grove, IL: (708) 251-5111
The Konami LaserScope is a head-mounted light gun used with and licensed for the Nintendo Entertainment System video game console. It was originally released in 1990 in Japan for the Famicom under the name Gun Sight. It was designed for the game Laser Invasion, but works with any game compatible with the NES Zapper. In the United States, Laser Invasion came with a coupon for a $5 discount for the LaserScope. It is voice-activated, firing a shot whenever the wearer says "fire." The headset also includes an eyepiece with a crosshair that sits in front of the wearer's right eye. The LaserScope is powered through the audio port of the NES, allowing it to function as headphones for the NES.


Learn to play the piano by watching TV with the Miracle Piano Teaching System. Cost: $349.95. Contact: The Software Toolworks, Novato, CA; (415) 883-5157.
The Miracle system consisted of a keyboard, connecting cables, power supply, soft foot pedals, and software either on 3.5" floppies or standard, licensed NES/SNES/Genesis cartridges. After the supplied MIDI keyboard was connected to a console or computer and the included software was loaded, a user followed the on-screen notes. Its marketed value was as a tool to teach kids and to play the piano. It provided hundreds of lessons, and was advertised as the perfect adjunct to formal lessons. Due to its high price and low sales, the keyboard with all of the original cables together are a rare find.


Let your fingers do the walking, driving, and punching with Power Glove. Hand movements control the action. Cost: $90. Contact: Mattel Toys, Hawthorn, CA; (800) 421-2887.
The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Power Glove itself was a commercial success for its early virtual reality mechanics and being shown in various forms of media. However, its two games did not sell well, as it was not packaged with a game, and it was criticized for its imprecise and difficult-to-use controls.


Now you can carry your hand-held Nintendo GameBoy when it’s not actually in your hands. Cost: $9.95. Contact: Nintendo, Redmond, WA; (800) 255-3700.


OMNI Reboot Staff
A team of space cadets making the most out of their time trapped on Earth. Help.


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