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How Space Invaders Became a Gaming Phenomenon

When Tomohiro Nishikado, fresh from the release of his combat flight simulator Interceptor, set out to make a new game, his design featured tanks and planes shooting at attacking soldiers instead of spaceships and aliens. But his early prototype just didn’t feel right. Many of the vehicles were deemed too hard to maneuver, for instance. Another problem was that Taito had decided to ban the shooting of human targets, as the company felt that would send a problematic message. Nishikado knew he needed to go back to the drawing board, and so he gradually arrived at the idea of changing the game to aliens and spaceships.

Given that the year was 1977, it’s pretty easy to see where the inspiration for Space Invaders came from. Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind both hit theaters while Nishikado was working on his alien game and it soon became clear that there was a large audience hungry for anything related to science fiction and outer space. In an interview with The Guardian, Nishikado said that Star Wars isn’t directly responsible for the space theme, but added that the George Lucas film did help him solve that problem about shooting humans… read more >

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