1971’s Computer Space put players in control of a spaceship and asked them to shoot down incoming flying saucers. Its gameplay was as simple as could be, but everything about Computer Space‘s technology and “insert-quarter-to-play” commercial release would soon form the foundation of the arcade video game industry. But of course, Computer Space co-creator Nolan Bushnell’s next major project, 1972’s Pong, would end up being far more successful.
14. First Female Video Game Protagonist – Billie Sue (Wabbit)
The first game to star a named and playable female character was 1982’s Wabbit for the Atari 2600. That unique title featured a farmer named Billie Sue, who was tasked with defending crops from rabbits.
Interestingly, Wabbit was also an early example of a game designed by a woman (Vietnamese programmer Van Mai, then Van Tran). Unfortunately, because she was mistakenly identified as Ban Tran for quite some time (and left the gaming industry shortly after Wabbit‘s release), her contributions to the industry were nearly forgotten. Thankfully, researchers helped restore her and Billie Sue’s place in history.
13. First Video Game Cheat Code – “xyzzy” (Colossal Cave Adventure)
You have to go all the way back to 1977’s Colossal Cave Adventure to find the very first cheat code. In that text-based adventure title, players are able to type the phrase “xyzzy” at a certain point in order to skip a large section of the game.
Interestingly, designer Will Crowther implemented the “xyzzy” command at the request of his sister, who was helping him test the game. Crowther left it in the final game as he figured that there were probably “a lot of impatient people out there who would appreciate a shortcut.” Many early cheat codes were actually implemented to help developers test their games more efficiently, and fans just happened to discover them through publications, word of mouth, and experimentation.
12. First Secret Character – Reptile (Mortal Kombat)
Many modern developers use the idea of a secret character to not only reward curious gamers but entice us to explore every inch of a digital world. As popular as the idea of secret characters is these days, it’s not nearly as old as you might think.