In 1978, the world was gifted with Space Invaders. It’s been called an ‘arcade classic’, the ‘original first-person shooter’ and the little alien symbols are instantly recognizable to this day. But aside from the fact that you have to take control of the little craft and shoot away at the aliens at the top of the screen, how much else do you know about the iconic game? Because we’ve found ten very interesting facts.
1 – Tomohiro Nishikado, more like Nishika-no
Despite its huge success, the original creator of Space Invaders actually had no intent to enter the gaming industry. After studying engineering and specializing in television circuits, he joined Taito, a company that was into making video games. From there Nishikado was responsible for making Davis Cup and Soccer, but he was determined to make something bigger and better. We were gifted with Space Invaders but it was a different pathway for its creator. Due to its success, Nishikado was promoted, which meant he spent more time managing people than actually making games. It also meant he was under contract not to have his name on the game, and it wasn’t until 2013 he was able to get the credit he so deserved.
2 – Created it but didn’t ace it
You’d think that if you created a video game then you’d be able to be good at it. To show off, get the high scores and demonstrate how it should really be played with gusto. Not the case for Space Invaders. In fact, its creator is notorious for not even being able to make it past the first screen. “If it was up to me” said Nishikado, “Space Invaders would have been a far easier game.” But then where would be the fun in that?
3 – The killer app
There have been many instances throughout gaming history where a new game has revolutionized the industry and proven the worth of its system. Just like Halo did with the Xbox. Well, when Space Invaders came to the sublime Atari 2600 it was seen as perhaps the first killer app in gaming history. Already popular on the arcade system, the fact that it could now be enjoyed at home meant the sales of Atari soared.
4 – Inspiration for the future
While it may look like such a simple game, Space Invaders has served as the inspiration for many gaming developers and creators. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Nintendo classics Donkey Kong, Zelda and Mario, along with Metal Gear Solid creator, Hideo Kojima, cite the classic Space Invaders as their introduction to gaming. And we’ve seen the influence they have had on gaming over the years. It’s spanned far and wide, from simplistic gaming to massive multiplayer online games and modern blockchain-based games of today like The Sandbox on blockchain.
5 – 38 hours non-stop action
How long have you played Space Invaders for? Or any video game for that matter? A few hours non-stop seems like the average, and even that might be a bit too much. Back in 1980 though, 12-year-old Eric Furrer from Canada managed to play the game for 38 hours and 30 minutes, only stopping for bathroom breaks (with a special button that paused the game). Obviously, he entered the Guinness Book of Records for his achievement.
6 – There’s a book about it
Honestly, we’re not lying. Author, Martin Amis, published an essay in 1982 called ‘Invasion of the Space Invaders’, giving an insight into the cultural impact the game had. It also had some tips on how to get high scores. Bad news for you though – it’s out of print.
7 – Invader art
The alien villains on Space Invaders are known as Invaders and the familiar icon has become part of pop culture. In fact, so much so, a French artist (known as Invader of course) became famous for invading cities and creating mosaics of the 8-bit characters on buildings and bridges. Banksy, eat your heart out.
8 – Sea creature inspiration
Speaking of the cute little Space Invader characters, the design was based on sea creatures such as octopuses, squids and crabs. If you look closer, you’ll see it.
9 – Space Invaders wrist
Did you know that there was a medical condition named after the game? Yup, due to the long gaming sessions, players were going to the doctors with complaints of stiffness in the wrists, hands and elbows. So, the New England Journal of Medicine recognized it as a legitimate concern and named it ‘Space Invaders Wrist’ (dig that UK old-school TV show!).
10 – Movie cameos
Space Invaders has also been made famous in Hollywood too. It’s appeared in famous films such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It also appeared in Pixels, a film that pays homage to retro games.