Star Raiders

Doug Neubauer

19 August 1979

Doug Neubauer / Atari, 1979 / USA / Selected By Warren Spector

Inspired by the “Star Trek” mainframe computer game and the film “Star Wars,” “Star Raiders” was one of the earliest games to give players a first-person perspective – straight out the front of their spaceships. The game advanced on other early first-person perspective attempts by adding real-time, 3D space battles. Unusual for its time, there was no “score” and the player’s spaceship had only one “life.” Players received rankings only after finishing the game; later games like “Doom” and “Quake,” which named levels “Daddy Can I Play” and “Death Incarnate,” owe much to “Star Raiders’” irreverent ranking system. Perhaps the game’s greatest success lay in its ability to transport players – adults as well as children – into another world, not only through first-person perspective but also through well-polished, highly tuned controls that made maneuvering the spacecraft feel uncannily like “real” movement. But the game may be best remembered for helping invent a new genre, space combat games, which combines elements of action and strategy games. Without it, there would be no “Wing Commander” or “X-Wing” series.