Space Invaders at 40: ‘I tried soldiers, but shooting people was frowned upon’

Four decades ago, Tomohiro Nishikado created the title that became shorthand for video games themselves. He recalls how he wanted to tap into players’ competitive instincts

In the 1970s, as Tomohiro Nishikado began to consider designing his next arcade game, the video game medium was in a fledgling state. With few rules to follow or break, the pioneering game developer had the creative freedom he needed to build a true cultural phenomenon. The game Nishikado was starting to plot out in his mind was Space Invaders, the iconic shoot ’em up that is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“I had no idea the game would become so popular it would become a social phenomenon,” Nishikado remembers. “I was totally taken aback.”

Despite his surprise, the game designer had certainly crafted something of great cultural significance.

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