Qix  and the other three-letter word that ends in x. (NSFW, experimental.)
(Content warning: torture mention.) In the 1300s, there was a game called Obligations. It was played in the early Latin Christian universities by the friars, the bishops, the Franciscans, the students and teachers and such, and its structure informed much of the underlying phrasing and logic of the century's theology and philosophy. Obligations is a … Continue reading The Prisoner 
Humans are such fragile meat, no? And they're past their expiration date... Life itself is proof of guilt.
Taking stock of my Class of 1980, I have a mixed bag of diamonds-in-the-rough-at-best. Across the board, we see ambition and innovation that I think exceeds the actual quality of the work, the spirit of the Magnavox Odyssey  more than its honed descendant Pong : Pac-Man is overstimulating, Rogue is understimulating. House Of Usher … Continue reading Adventure 
As far as Popular Game History is concerned, Zork  is the first and last text adventure game ("interactive fiction" sadly never fully filtering out to mass consciousness,) a cute stage-setting for the graphical adventure genre that completely superseded it on technical grounds. This is a perception deeply beholden to a progress narrative and commercial … Continue reading Zork 
Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher 's first paragraph, carried by dizzied, wavering prose that later on gives easily into poetry, foregrounds it as a work of architectural critique firstly — Gothic of course being the vital architectural term — but one that understands the unit of the building as something … Continue reading House Of Usher 
I have always considered the video game RPG in purely negative terms, and I don't simply mean that I don't like them. What I mean is that I have mostly perceived them as the phantom of tabletop RPGs, or more accurately, their exorcism. By taking the aspects of tabletop RPGs that computers can easily replicate, … Continue reading Rogue 
Not too close, not too close. I'm too big for where. Am I a knight? Right through the neck please. Hercules for a moment, then lament the blue brush. There's no room and there's no rooms. Gives green around the gills. KILL IT. The base place intruder. Regular 6-point figures trace the forever now and … Continue reading Berzerk 
Since Space Invaders , the game in the arcade has become more clear: it's all about managing and producing tension. If Space Invaders was a jazzed-up marching band tune, Pac-Man is an Alfred Schnittke all-out orchestral assault. It could not be a starker contrast to the stately Lunar Lander , in its loud poison-frog colors … Continue reading Pac-Man 
Lunar Lander , at first blush, seems an incongruous fit for the arcade. It must be intentional as an attempted marketing strategy for floorspace in the ever-more competitive competitive arcade ecosystem. It's austere, maybe serious, adult, even intellectual. Slow, certainly. Methodical: Twitchy, nick-of-time reactions will get you nowhere here, you need to commit to medium-term … Continue reading Lunar Lander 
It's more about time than it is space, not that those can ever be fully disentangled. Space only finds actuality in relative positions, and you're not being challenged to judge the length of the gap between your cover shields or navigate a maze. If the titular were not engaged in constant horizontal motion, the game … Continue reading Space Invaders 
There is no other game of its era or the next one, all the way up to Super Mario Bros , that is anywhere near as celebrated and long-lived as Colossal Cave Adventure [1975/77]. In 1995, Graham Nelson, author of Curses  and of the Inform programming language in which he implemented the port I … Continue reading Colossal Cave Adventure 
(Content warning: Vehicular homicide.) Cliche when it comes to the game is to sensibly chuckle at the quaint moral outrage that made it infamous: all this over some crudely-drawn stick figures! This condescending ahistorical reaction doesn't just sell short humanity's ability to read abstraction and process media, and thus really the medium of video games … Continue reading Death Race 
The most famous Magnavox Odyssey game is Table Tennis. It was the direct inspiration for Pong, and there is an infamous lawsuit decided in Magnavox's favor to that effect, which became famously the first of decades of copyright trolling putting up a hundreds-of-millions tollbooth on the mere concept of video games at home. If we … Continue reading Magnavox Odyssey  + Pong 
(Content Warning: Cannibalism, Genocide.) In these early days of gaming, it’s hard to walk in a straight line without tripping over “firsts.” Looking for the first this or the first that is a hook, it’s exciting to uncover, you feel like something recognizable of our present-day condition is emerging from the strange, foreign world of … Continue reading The Oregon Trail 
Spacewar is still the first video game. Not technically: the developers of Spacewar were already aware of a playable Tic Tac Toe implementation on the very computer they were working on, which by that point was already a more-than-decade-long tradition for computers, not to mention Tennis For Two . (For greater detail on this cascade … Continue reading Spacewar!