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EVE Online

When space met war

Following on from yesterday’s mention of Elite, a video has surfaced on the making of a game that was just as important – if not more so – to the history of the space game genre that EVE now dominates. Developed in the early 1960s, that game was Spacewar, where two players would battle each other around the gravity of a star that threatened to suck them in to the centre of the screen.

Running on computers the size of cars and using less memory than the smallest text file imaginable, about 4k, Spacewar was almost as popular in some circles as Elvis. More importantly it went on to inspire an entire industry. Without Spacewar Nolan Bushnell might not have founded Atari. No Atari would have meant no Chuck E. Cheese. The horror.

The video features Spacewar co-creator Steve Russell happily reminiscing on front of a PDP-1 “minicomputer” that is running the game, fifty years after it was first developed. Having not seen the game ever running on its native hardware, it’s remarkable how smooth the graphics are. (Reminds me of the old Vectrex – happy days!) Russell clearly has some affection for the game he helped create, and displays not a shred of bitterness that he obviously didn’t become a multimillionaire on the back of its underground success.

“I look at it as training people to fly spaceships” he responds when charged with being responsiblity for millions of people wasting their lives playing games over the last 50 years.

Amen to that!



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