Spacewar! [1962]

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 [1958]. (For greater detail on this cascade … Continue reading Spacewar! [1962]

The Oregon Trail [1971]

(Content Warnings: 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 [1971]

Magnavox Odyssey [1971] + Pong [1972]

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 [1971] + Pong [1972]

Lunar Lander [1979]

Lunar Lander [1979], 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 [1979]

Zork [1980]

As far as Popular Game History is concerned, Zork [1980] 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fully filtering out to mass consciousness,) a cute stage-setting for the graphical adventure genre that completely superseded it on technical grounds.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 [1980]