Sunday, March 21, 2010

Episode I - Rough Start

This is a pretty rough draft of my essay about Star War's impact on modern gamimg. A lot of things need to sorted like references, ideas, flow and a conclusion. More will come as I rework it.

Star Wars is responsible for several changes in popular culture, the rise of the blockbuster, the franchise movie, the use of computer generated special effects and for leaving an indelible mark on popular lexicon. (Emerson n.d ; Jenkins 2005) Countless references from the series have been used in commercials, video games, books and other mediums.

How could a space opera from the 70's influence contemporary gaming?

Star Wars has had a pervasive impact on the modern human psyche and has left its mark on directors, fans and video game designers. This essay will look at the impact Star Wars had on people as a cultural phenomena and at the video games it has inspired.

Peter Krämer (2001) cites during a class, he asked students the role of Star Wars had in their lives and was surprised by the response. He recounts that as children, many of his students felt they been inhabiting the Star Wars universe and still do as adults.

"... the saga's characters, stories and catch phrases had been a primary reference point for their peer group and also within their families." (Kramer 2001)

The appeal of Star Wars has many facets, its creator George Lucas has been cited that it is a portrayal of faith and innocence triumphing over cynicism and despair. (Levin cited in Brooker 1997) Critics have panned and praised the series approach to capture the "inner child". (Kramer 2001) Simular parallels can seen in the number of games that offer the player a similar experience.

"`Star Wars' didn't create video games but it totally influenced them... The Death Star trench run in the original `Star Wars' is the archetypal video game climax: Fire a missile, hit a weak spot and everything gets destroyed." (Schneider cited in Caro 2005)

It is moments like these that have inspired games such as Space Invaders, Star Fire, Attack of the Mutant Camels and countless others. Entering a world where Star Wars, some of these products prove that Star Wars is an inspiring force that spans a lifetime.

The 1979 arcade game Star Fire owes its creation to Star Wars. Ted Michon was inspired by the movies to create a game in this genre, he created graphics that were extremely close to the designs of Star Wars. (Thomasson 2006) Star Fire is noted for emulating the experience of flying a TIE fighter from the movies. (Minter 2003)

One of the strangest video games to claim influence from Star Wars is Jeff Minter's Attack of the Mutant Camels.

The review in question described the Walkers as “giant mechanical camels”. “And that just got me thinking about giant camels in general,” says Minter. (The Making Of: Attack of The Mutant Camels 2009)

Drawing inspiration from a review of The Empire Strikes Back, Minter created an imaginative experience which pitted the player against shielded camels that could fire lasers. With an aesthetic borrowed from the Parker Brother's game, Minter's game could be seen as a parody but also as a retelling of the original game.

The biggest game in the industry that Star Wars has inspired is Tomohiro Nishikado's Space Invaders. Nishikado recalls that he was inspired by news of the American movie that was coming to Japan. He had felt that setting the game in space and having aliens as opponents would be less immoral than shooting human enemies.(The Creation of Space Invaders 2005)

Space Invaders is considered to one of the seminal arcade games which launched an industry. The influence on the gaming industry can still be felt today. It pushed video games culture into mainstream consciousness, it created the genre of games known as top-down shooters and it's conception could not have happened without a fairy tale sent in space known as Star Wars. Star Wars paved the way for space opera and aliens to be acceptable serious topics for movies and video games.(Edwards n.d)

Video games would not be a dynamic cultural force without the influence of Star Wars whether it's the need to emulate scenes from the movies or as a jumping platform for game development. The excitement of pretending to be a Jedi Knight as a child to engaging hyper-speed as an adult gamer, these moments could only have come from a world where Star Wars exists.

From the late 70's, Star Wars has been the one cultural force that has eclipsed other trends and inducted generations of people into its fold. Few can imagine life without its presence, even the uninterested are aware of its influence over their lives. If the force with you?


Booker W 1997, 'New Hope: The Postmodern Project of Star Wars' in S Redmond(ed), Liquid Metal The Science Fiction Film Reader, Wallflower Press, London, pp. 289 - 307.

Brown, J 2005, The impact of the Star Wars trilogy, viewed 10th March 2010,

Caro, M 2005, The power of the dark side, viewed 10th March 2010,,0,5154795.story?page=1.

Ebert, R 1999, Great Movies: Star Wars, viewed 11th March 2010,

Edwards B, n.d., Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Space Invaders Celebrating 30 Years of Shooting at Sushi, viewed 5th March 2010,

Emerson, J n.d, How Star Wars Shook the World, viewed 10th March 2010,

Jenkins H 2005, Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture, viewed 12th March 2010,

Kramer P 2001, 'It's Aimed At Kids - The Kid in Everybody: George Lucas, Star Wars and Children's Entertainment', in Y Trasker(ed), Action and Adventure Cinema, Routledge, Oxen, pp. 358 - 370.

Rickey, C 2005, Debate brews about cultural impact of 'Star Wars', viewed 10th March 2010,

The Creation of Space Invaders 2005, Edge Online, viewed 12th March 2010,

The Making Of:Attack of The Mutant Camels 2009, Edge Online, viewed 14th March 2010,

Thomasson M 2006, Interview with David Rolfe, viewed 13th March 2010,

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