Gaming Landmarks

Whilst it may seem strange to find a section covering computer games on a website primarily dedicated to providing educational material, there are two very good reasons why computer games have a place here. First of all, computer games themselves can be educational in nature. If nothing else, they can encourage students who might otherwise not be so inclined to take an interest in computer technology. In order to play a computer game, one must at least be able to operate the computing device on which it runs. An interest in computer games motivates many students to want to learn how to program their own games, which of necessity means they will have to acquire a much higher level of computing skills, including programming. The second reason is that the computer gaming industry worldwide is today a multi-billion dollar industry that employs (in some capacity or other) hundreds of thousands of people. It is therefore of significant economic importance.

The history of computer gaming goes back to the early days of mainframe computing, decades before personal computers were available, and before they were even imagined by any but a small number of visionaries. Sadly, documentary records for many of these early games have been lost forever. A notable exception, and one of the earliest computer games ever written, was Spacewar! developed by MIT students Martin Graetz, Wayne Wiitanen and Alan Kotok together with MIT employee Steve Russell. The game, completed in 1962, was written for a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-1 minicomputer whose official purpose was the compilation of statistics. The total number of video games created for some kind of computer, console or mobile device since those early days runs into the millions and is still growing. Of course, only a relatively small proportion of these games have been financially successful, or even achieved widespread popularity.

In this section, we attempt to highlight some of the landmark computer games that have been developed since the 1960s. Any discussion of the relative merits of the games included here must be considered somewhat subjective, since everybody has their own views on how good or bad a particular game was (or is), or even to what extent a particular game has influenced the development of other computer games. Moreover, each new generation of computer users (and especially computer gamers) has its own unique historical perspective. Nevertheless, each of the games described here has earned its place in computer gaming history for one reason or another. Please bear in mind that, as with most areas of this site, this section is (and will continue to be) a work in progress. New pages will be added, and existing pages may be modified to reflect updated information as and when necessary.