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

Space is the place
Exidy's 1979 arcade shooter 'Star Fire' was (ahem) "liberal" with its use of 'Star Wars' brand imagery Exidy1/5

Space is the place

It’s amazing how many arcade games that appeared in the years after Episode IV’s release have “Star” or “Space” in the title. The Star Wars-influenced Space Invaders is just the tip of the iceberg. A cursory search of late 1970s and early 1980s arcade releases turns up Space Beam, Space Duel, Star Castle, Space Zap, Space Laser, Space Lords, Starhawk, Space Seeker, Space Fever, Space Panic, Star Force, Space Race, Space Chaser, Space Cruiser, Star Fire, Space Dungeon, Space Fury… you get the picture.

There were sci-fi outer space games before Star WarsSpacewar!, which was inspired by vintage pulp like Lensman and Buck Rogers, predates the film by 15 years. And there were popular text-based Star Trek games for mainframe computers circulating on college campuses at the time that the movie debuted. But the success of Star Wars clearly got many game designers thinking that a sci-fi space setting would be popular...and hopefully lucrative.

Galaxian, Galaga, Phoenix, Gorf, R-Type, and a zillion more shooty spaceship games owe their existence to Star Wars. But we shouldn’t be surprised that Star Wars inspired so many other space games. At the height of its popularity in the early 1980s, the films even lent buzzwords to global politics – Ronald Reagan drew upon the films when he declared that the Soviet Union was an “Evil Empire,” and his Strategic Defense Initiative was dubbed “Star Wars.” (Though Missile Command would’ve been more apt.)