By Marshall Garvey
Steven Spielberg is admittedly an odd, yet ultimately fitting, choice to emphasize for a gaming site. His history with video games is complicated, and more often than not, pretty underwhelming. As we all know, the go-to choice for worst game ever made is E.T. for Atari 2600, the hilariously rushed attempt to cash in on perhaps his most beloved movie. The urban legend (ultimately proved true) of a landfill in the New Mexico desert filled with copies of it doesn’t exactly place Spielberg alongside Shigeru Miyamoto in the minds of gamers.
Yet he’s also been a secret force in gaming’s evolution. In 1982, he wrote the introduction to the book Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines. In the late 90’s, as Spielberg was riding high on the success of Saving Private Ryan and preparing Band of Brothers for television, he tasked DreamWorks Interactive with making a game that combined his World War II aesthetic with the first-person shooters his son Max was playing at the time. The result was Medal of Honor, which laid the groundwork for the slew of modern war FPS games that dominate the market today.
Moreover, most of his films are packed with brilliant action sequences so visceral, they feel like you’re playing them. I discussed this with my sportswriter friend Donnell Alexander, who noted that the intro of Raiders of the Lost Ark feels like a video game. Hell, next time I watch that film, I’m probably going to envision quicktime event prompts appearing onscreen as Indiana outruns that boulder.
Even with all that considered, it would probably make more sense to devote a feature to his colleague and Indiana Jones collaborator George Lucas, whose LucasArts studio was responsible for everything from Star Wars games to seminal point-and-click classics like Secret of Monkey Island. But Lucas’s output as a director is strangely small, and only the Star Wars series really lends itself to gaming. With the release of Ready Player One today, Spielberg’s theatrical filmography now stands at a staggering 32 films and counting, many of which have video game adaptations spanning multiple consoles.
Most importantly, Steven Spielberg has enthralled millions with his movies for nearly 50 years, primarily the generations that have grown up with the evolution of the video game medium. That he’s the director to bring Ernest Cline’s geek culture manifesto Ready Player One to life on the silver screen is the perfect culmination of his pervasive impact on the entertainment industry.
To celebrate, Last Token Gaming is saluting Spielberg’s legacy with an entire month of articles and features dedicated to his films and video games based on (or similar) to them. Spielberg Month will include game reviews and features about his films, including Marshall’s review of Ready Player One and a thorough ranking of all of them from worst to best. To cap it off at the end of April, we’re doing a quote quiz that includes some sweet prizes!
So power up and grab some Reese’s Pieces on your way to Oasis…it’s Spielberg Month at Last Token Gaming!