Multiplayer 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.