5 Ways 'Star Wars' Influenced Video Games

"Video games, I am your father." 'Episode IV' created an influential paradigm for games that's still at work today

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Dogfighting in a vacuum
'Elite: Dangerous' is the newest title from the UK creator of the original 1984 space adventure Frontier Developments5/5

Dogfighting in a vacuum

When Star Wars debuted, everyone came out of the theater dreaming of being a starfighter pilot. And many game developers set out to give them that experience. Many of the early games that used a first-person point of view were aping the cockpit perspective of the battle sequences in Star Wars, over time, this developed into more and more elaborate and detailed simulations of what a “real” starfighter would experience.

Some of the earliest Star Wars game knockoffs were cockpit fighters. In 1978, you could blast TIE Fighters on the Apple 2 and RCA Sheen M1200. The 1979 Atari title Star Raiders and the arcade title Star Fire shameless crib from the outer space dogfights in Episode IV. These games beat the official vector-based Star Wars arcade game to market by several years.

In the 1980s, PC game designers began developing more immersive cockpit experiences, which were eventually dubbed space flight simulators. David Braben's game Elite let you engage in realistic space combat as you crisscrossed the galaxy in 1984. Origin’s 1990 title Wing Commander went even further. The game’s creator Chris Roberts is very up front about the fact the he wanted to realize his (and our) childhood fantasy of becoming a starfighter pilot. The game used cinematic tricks to depict thrilling space battles, as well as life aboard ship in between dogfights. The third installment in the Wing Commander series included elaborate live action cut scenes featuring real Hollywood actors, including Luke Skywalker himself – Mark Hamill.

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