12 Games That Defined Their Genres

The Escapist Staff | 8 Dec 2010 21:00
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Genre: Shooter
First Released: 1993
Platform: MS-Dos
Developer: id Software

For the first few decades of its existence, the television was a one-way device. Images were beamed into the box from somewhere far away. You could no sooner interact with them than you could change the channel without getting up from your chair. We scoff at the earliest videogames (Pong, Spacewar!) because of their limited interface and simple graphics, but simply by turning the dynamic of the one-way box on its head, these games were magical.

For years afterward, videogames built on that magic, creating more and more interesting interactive experiences - Space Invaders, Pac-Man - each an improvement on the genre, but all offering the same kind of experience: interactive control of an "other" a device on the screen controlled by the human hand.

Doom took the next step. Games like Battlezone and the Star Wars arcade cabinet had already cracked the fourth wall by moving the focus of player interaction from outside of an on-screen machine to the inside of its cockpit, but Doom shattered the wall entirely; Doom put you inside a person's head.

Doom introduced videogamers to the concept of immersion, a heretofore unprecedented level of interaction with a digital device. Playing Doom, a player did not move a tiny space marine around on the screen, the player was the space marine, opening a whole new door for interactivity and setting the stage for how games would be played for decades to come. Doom wasn't the originator of the first-person shooter, but its immense commercial and critical success laid the groundwork for the millions of Call of Duty's and Medal of Honor's sold.


Originator: Battlezone

Genre: Shooter
First Released: 1980
Platform: Arcade
Developer: Atari

Sure, it doesn't have a mouse, and, sure, it uses a freaking periscope, but Battlezone is still the air-breathing, granddaddy mudfish in the evolutionary line of the first person shooter genre. This 1980 arcade classic gave players simple 3D vector graphics and a turret you could only move by steering your tank left or right, but it was still one of the first games that really gave you in that "you are there" perspective in a field full of enemies. It looks positively primitive by today's standards, but Battlezone is the game that started it all.

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