The first ever patented computer game was named Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device and was actually released as early as 1947. Build by Thomas Goldsmith jr and Estle Ray Mann, this was hardly a PC game (mainly since the PC was not invented until 1981) but is still considered to be the first ever computer game. Featuring advanced screen overlay technology, the aim of the game was to simulate missiles (it was actually inspired by World War II radar screens and was not much better looking).
In the fifties, classic games such as OXO and Tennis for Two were created, but it wasn’t until the dawn of the PC era that computer games really took off. PC games were originally played by typing in strings of code into computers, but when the Atari came, so did the market shift. It was, however, never a certainty that PC games would take off the way they did. Commodore 64 and Amiga might be considered classics nowadays, but fact is the arcade and video game market nearly killed of computer games completely in the mid-eighties.
The early nineties saw a whole new evolution for PC games as the computer mouse was more and more integrated into visual platforms. id Software started launching massively popular first person shooter-games with DooM being their greatest success.
Nowadays, PC games have developed into a wide spectrum of genres, but the Internet has also provided them with new challenges: piracy and illegal downloading of PC games is now widespread despite the game companies’ programmers doing their very best to encrypt and protect their products. Fewer and fewer titles ever make it big, and a handful of games have dominated the market for the last decade (counter-strike, world of warcraft and so on). However, interesting things are happening as cellar based programmers and enthusiasts create their own viral games. Minecraft is such an example, smartphone based Wordfeud another. All in all, the challenges for PC games ahead are massive, but so are the possibilities.