End of an era: Flash games
A love letter to the history and impact of Flash games on childhood and the gaming industry as a whole
Adobe Flash player is no more, putting an end to one of the most creative eras in the history of video games.
To those born in the 90s and early 2000s, to our team who can’t remember if we are Millennials or Gen Z. For those of us who haven’t had the chance to put get your hands on the coveted XBox 360 or Playstation 2 or 3, this is for you.
Earlier this week, I revisited a website that I had visited so many times in my youth, onemorelevel.com. While I was there, I played Gunmaster Onslaught 2, a simple game where your character, a red-haired jumpsuit of Johnny Bravo and Rambo, fight his way through waves of enemies, helicopters, and of stealth bombers. Unbeknownst to me, onemorelevel.com and other websites that hosted so many Flash games would be rendered almost useless in the next few days.
Flash games: a very brief history
An amazing resource for this story is How FLASH GAMES Shaped the Video Game Industry, written by Jonas Richner. Richner, a former game developer who created e7, Pwong, and many more, has created a complete timeline for Flash games.
“It all started in 1996, when the Flash Player first came out,” Richner writes. “It was originally intended for web graphics and animation, but when it got its own programming language in 2000, developers started using it to create games.
Soon after, the first automated Flash game website, Newgrounds, was established. Anyone could download their games and they were released immediately. From there, Flash games evolved rapidly over the next 20 years into what Richner considers “one of the most creative periods in video game history.”
End of an era
The last page of this story has been written, however, with almost all of these games made unplayable since Tuesday, January 12, 2021. The reason is that Adobe is blocking Flash content from playing in Flash Player.
According to Adobe, the reason for this drive change is, in layman’s terms, evolution.
“Open standards such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly have continuously matured over the years and are viable alternatives for Flash content,” the Adobe statement said. “In addition, the major browser vendors embed these open standards in their browsers and frown on most other plug-ins (like Flash Player). “
In Richner’s article, Jonathan Gay, one of the founders of Flash Player, said that being the creator and administrator of Flash is a privilege.
“I felt we were building a pencil and it was the creative community that was responsible for creating Flash as a creative form,” he said, also adding that he hoped that something like this will happen again.
Leave a legacy
Perhaps the elimination of Flash was not such a big surprise to some, in 2012 the number of players on Flash game websites was on the decline, causing many developers to jump ship. and to create mobile or console games. Former Flash game hosts have launched YouTube channels.
Sites like Newgrounds, onemorelevel.com, Miniclip, Armor Games and Kongregate are still running, many games are now unplayable.
It seems that just like the tweens who played these simple and colorful games, the internet has evolved. At first I was sad because of this, I felt like a piece of my childhood had followed the path of so many memes and vanished into obscurity.
However, during my research for this story, I remembered one of the beautiful (and sometimes terrifying) truths about this World Wide Web: It never really forgets. If you need to get rid of that nostalgic Flash game itch, YouTube videos from former Flash game hosts or playthroughs can do it easily.
Plus, the more stubborn among us have found ways to bypass Flash Player hiccups. Newgrounds has its own player capable of playing Flash games, similar workarounds are also offered on various other sites, although Adobe strongly recommends against using them.
In conclusion, if these games meant as much to you as to me, don’t be discouraged. Their creation influenced the games we know and love today, and your involvement in this part of internet history is something you can be proud of.