Mankind was forever changed after tragedy struckAmericaand cast peace into doubt. Thousands of lives were lost; billions were changed. The tidal wave of fear and trepidation moved from politics to culture, from news tabloids to books to movies and yes, to games. As the troops of allied countries acted to strengthen their countries, the forces of artists, figureheads, journalists, developers and of the public moved too; they moved for nationalistic pride, for love of country and home.
Yes, 9/11 changed everything. For gaming, it created one of the biggest movements in the history of the industry : The rise and dominance of the first person shooter.
War has always been a part of gaming. The second video game ever, made by Steve Russell in 1962, features war in the very title: Spacewar! And since that time there has always been a natural link between gaming and war. The most important factor of gameplay throughout the industry is to reward the player for their every action. What better sense of action / reward could one get than from pulling a trigger and seeing an explosion? It’s a mechanic that has been present in gaming since day one.
Steve Russell’s Spacewar!
Yet FPS games prior to 9/11 were very different to how they are today. What was different was that shooting games, for the most part, were fantastical in nature. There were the Space Invaders style of games that gave players the trigger / bullet mechanic but in a much more innocent manner. These then became Commando / Contra style games that may had featured a story (a very traditional good VS evil type of story) that gave purpose and structure to the games, but were still very clearly removed from reality, and even more so from the realms of politics.
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