The 70s saw a rise in the video game phenomenon that we all know and love today. With advances in technology, exciting, new platforms let people experience the simplicity of Pong, to the extremities of fighting aliens with never before seen graphics. Although 70s board games were a big hit during this time, the video game era was about to begin, changing how we spend our time for years to come.
Ping-pong wasn’t the first video game; it was the Magnavox Odyssey that was the first. The game, however, was instrumental in launching the arcade and home console industries, as the profitability of its hardware and simplicity of the gameplay combined to guarantee its enormous success and long-term relevance.
Sega’s Sea Wolf game was based on its Periscope electro-mechanical game from the late-60s but added a monochrome video display rather than cardboard ships and plastic waves, making it one of the most beautifully painted cabinets to come out of the 70s. Battleships pass by periscopes on the cab’s front, where players can aim and shoot at them. As home consoles proliferated, their success inspired the nascent arcade industry to experiment with extravagant novelty interfaces. This element proved vital in maintaining the success of the coin-op industry.
The Oregon Trials (1971)
Originally a minicomputer game, The Oregon Trail tasked American students with leading a wagon train of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, hunting and trading along the way. Despite its early entry into the survival genre, the game remains one of the few video games in which players are repeatedly killed by dysentery.
Computer Space (1971)
Built by Atari founders Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney a year before the arrival of the wildly more successful Pong, Computer Space is remembered for its beautiful retro-futuristic cabinet design as well as its gameplay. Essentially, it’s a first-person shooter with a rudimentary star-scape where the player fights two computer-controlled UFOs. Still, the one thing we will never forget about it is its curvaceous fiberglass cabinet (which appeared in the 1973 sci-fi film Soylent Green).
The formative text game Colossal Cave Adventure inspired Zork built on the burgeoning dungeon exploring genre. In addition to being ported to a wide range of early computers, the game inspired several sequels, which eventually led to the formation of Infocom, one of history’s most influential video games studios.
Space Invaders (1979)
The first hit arcade game to enter mass cultural consciousness, Space Invaders, was designed by Tomohiro Nishikado and inspired by Atari’s Breakout. Game industry DNA is infused with its use of early shoot-’em-up conventions, its iconic alien design (inspired by sea creatures), and its sparse, perfect soundtrack. There will always be a visual association between Space Invaders and gaming, from smartphone emojis to street art.
Galaxian’s multicolor, graphics-driven gameplay set the standard for the future of the space shooter genre. A rudimentary AI system allowed Namco to make the onslaught of the attacking craft different. Galaga and Gaplus were both superb sequels. Xevious, Defender, and Sinistar brought us into the scrolling-landscape era along with Phoenix and Gorf, which made up the peak of the fixed-shooter era.
MUD 1 (1978)
MUD 1 by Roy Trubshaw leaned on the text-based design of Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork but added an online component using Essex University’s DEC PDP-10 mainframe and thus represented the social component of traditional D&D. In Virtual Worlds such as Second Life, massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft have left a legacy for themselves as a result of their increasing popularity.
An asteroid field traps a lone ship with its laser gun and the physics of thrust and inertia to protect it from destruction. An abandoned Atari project named Cosmos called for two players to steal planets from each other, which was the premise behind the multi-directional shooter created by Lyle Rains and Ed Logg. A perfect blend of sharp vector graphics, intelligent controls (tweaked for months by Logg), and a captivating storyline made for an aesthetically pleasing and challenging game that still resonates today.
Star Raiders (1979)
Having been inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek, coder Douglas Neubauer created the original first-person space combat sim for the Atari 800 computer, Star Raiders, way ahead of its time. Playing the role of a starship pilot, you must protect the sky from Zylon ships invading from the distant planet. The combat is fast-paced and tactical, with players docking in space stations to replenish their fuel tanks between battles because there is only a limited amount of fuel. The game greatly influenced later genre leaders Elite and Wing Commander with its style, intensity, and immersive nature.
Also read: How to Get Better at Video Games: The Key Tips to Know