The history of first-person shooter videogames

Call of Duty, Doom, Wolfstein and Halo are the most famous examples of first-person shooter (FPS) games. And these games have immense popularity all over the world, and not only with the experienced gamers, but with their accessibility, they are number one in many people’s favourite genres list.

Over time, there have been a lot of first-person shooter games, dating back to 1973. Here is a list of videogames that have been relevant for the FPS history:

  1. Maze War (1973) 

This was a simple computer game that introduced many features and concepts to the videogame developing world, which continue to be used until now. The concept was that the person wanders around a maze, and when a player saw different players, they could shoot them, winning points for shooting and losing if being shot. 

Its importance, however, is the origination of the First-person 3D perspective, Avatars, the map that showed the player’s position, the network play or the different player system, internet play among others. 

  1. Spasim (1974) 

This was a space flight simulation videogame, that featured four teams of eight players, each controlling a planetary system, where each player controls a spaceship in 3D space with first-person view. 

It holds the title of the first-person shooter game in history along with Maze War, but since uncertainty lies around the latter about its release date, there is no assurance to which one was the first. Spasim’s creator Jim Bowery once offered a $500 reward to any person who could find proof that there was a previous game before his.

  1. Wolfstein 3D (1992) 

In this exhilarating videogame, the player assumes the role of Allied spy William “B.J.” Blazkowicz during World War II as he escapes from the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis. The player travells each of the game’s levels to find an elevator to the next level or kill a final boss, fighting Nazi soldiers, dogs, and other enemies with knives and a variety of guns.

This game set the precedent of FPS future trends, since it was the first to incorporate a fast paced rhythm, action and technical strengths of the avatars, which popularized the genre and took it to a whole new level. 

  1. Doom (1993) 

This videogame is probably the first FPS videogame that reach incredible records of popularity, becoming a very successful franchise. To this day, it has influenced a wide number of movies, comic books, novels and even a board game.

It helped shape and define the FPS genre, inspiring many Doom clones later on and it is considered to be one of the most significant games in video game history, since it not only inspired the first person shooter ones, but it pioneered online distribution and technologies including 3D graphics, networked multiplayer gaming, and support for customized modifications. 

Featuring a space marine as a main character, known as Doomguy, who had to kill hoards of hell demons, it was a controversial depiction of violence and hellish imagery.

  1. Half-Life (1998) 

In this FPS videogame, players assume the role of Gordon Freeman, a scientist who must find his way out of the Black Mesa Research Facility after an experiment with an alien material goes wrong. It introduced the puzzle solving and task accomplishing to move through the game’s chapters. 

Originally inspired on videogames like Doom, Quake and the novel “The Mist” by Stephen King for the plot development. 

  1. Halo: Combat Evolved (2000) 

As one of the first Xbox launches it rapidly gained popularity and with the sequel, Halo 2 (2004), it brought the popularity of online gaming to the console market through the medium of Xbox Live, on which it was the most played game for almost two years. 

It also made video games soundtracks popular, with nine of its soundtracks released for listening individually. The music allows for the mood, theme, and duration to change according to gameplay, and all the pieces created for the soundtrack were made to follow the course of the game. 

Strong sales of the games led to the franchise’s expansion to other media; there are multiple best-selling novels, graphic novels, and other licensed products. 

  1. Call of Duty: Infinity Ward (2003)

It first focused its set in World War II, eventually, other sequels have had different sets in the Cold War, futuristic worlds and outer space. It has over 30 sequels and this videogame has sold over 250 million copies, reaching the impressive amount of over 15 billion dollars. Other products in the franchise include action figures, comic books, board and card games and films. 

A study from Leiden University showed that playing first-person shooting games improve mental flexibility, since Compared to non-players, players of such games were found to require a significantly shorter reaction time while switching between complex tasks, possibly because they are required to develop a more responsive mindset to rapidly react to fast-moving visual and auditory stimuli, and to shift back and forth between different sub-duties.

In the 21st century, the first-person shooter is the most commercially viable video game genre, and in 2016, shooters accounted for over 27% of all video game sales. Several first-person shooters have been popular games for e-sports and competitive gaming competitions as well.