As gamers, we mark and honor our milestones like any respectful hobbyist should: If your game does something innovative that shapes the industry, we will remember it forever.
That is, unless somebody else does it later, and throws some more money behind it. Then we'll spit in your eye, toss you in a ditch and erase your game from the annals of history. Just like what happened to these pioneers ...
7Multiplayer Asteroids ... in 1962
Asteroids was a 1979 game about a small, triangular ship murdering an innocent society of space rocks. But why are we bothering to explain this?
This was back before sci-fi games were required to include sex with blue-skinned aliens.
It's Asteroids, man. It's that, Pac-Man, Centipede and Space Invaders; those are the arcade games. Statistically speaking, you've either played this game before, or you're an alien doing a piss-poor job trying to pass as human, or you're a surly teenager who won't play anything that doesn't feature texture-mapping and sniper rifles. Either way, you should probably get off our site and make a better effort to act like a person.
Way back in 1962, MIT students, professors and general hanger-outers developed a game called Spacewar! on a PDP-1 computer. And it was not only similar to Asteroids, but superior: Two people played at once (in later editions, up to five), with each one controlling his or her own spaceship. Instead of just destroying asteroids, the two players were encouraged to fight:
Star Wars, as seen from a crappy telescope.
Like in Asteroids, the ships were controlled by rotating them around and then accelerating forward, with the other button shooting missiles. If you drifted off the top of the screen, you'd reappear at the bottom, and if you were really boned, you could hit your hyperspace button and reappear somewhere randomly on the map, exactly the same as in the better-known Atari game. But you really have to see it in motion to get a sense of how close the two games were, so check out this video.
Then there were the elements Spacewar! had that Asteroids did not: The 1962 game upped the stakes with things like limited fuel and missiles, a point in the center of the screen that sucked you in with its gravitational pull and even a star field that corresponded to actual star charts. Hell, we'd rather be playing that right now.
If this thing had been around for Mario Kart, about half of our generation would have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
6The Sims: 1984?
In the two years following its release in the year 2000, The Sims went on to sell over 6.3 million copies, making it the best-selling PC game of all time (a record previously held for nine years by Myst). The appeal of The Sims was easy to see: It was just like real life, except that you could lock the doors and burn your entire family when you got bored. That's generally frowned upon in actual society.
Also frowned upon? Telling me our relationship is over when I'm clearly recreating it here, Julie!
A simulated home had already been done waaay back in 1984 with Little Computer People. Like The Sims, you had the ability to directly control your little characters (i.e., telling them to watch TV, play the piano, etc.), and you could also decide how their house was decorated. Sure, you couldn't design your character like in The Sims, but you could be guaranteed that no other owners of LCP had a character exactly like yours, thanks to something called "digital DNA" -- a randomized code that determined your Little Person's behavior and personality. Oh, and you couldn't change this code, either. So if your copy came with a miserable son of a bitch, then you just had to live with the guy, and occasionally steal wistful glances at the book of matches in the junk drawer.
Jesus Christ we're so lonely.
However, LCP also had a few features that The Sims didn't:
To start with, you could actually directly interact with your character. You could challenge your little dude to a game of poker, request that he play songs by certain composers on the piano and directly send messages to him via the little gray text box running across the top of the screen. One anecdote about LCP relates the player taking all of the character's money in a poker game, after which it had thrown a fit and refused to speak to the player or eat anything for an hour.
A less-amusing anecdote involves waking up to find the character staring down at you and holding a wrench.
Maybe that's why The Sims succeeded where LCP failed: Who wants to play a game about living with a guy you have no hand in choosing, and then dealing with his bullshit all the time? We've played that game before: It's called having a dormmate.