Which Film Director Is Directly Responsible for the Rise of War-Theme FPS Games?
Answer: Steven Spielberg
Military-themed first-person-shooter (FPS) games are huge. The Medal of Honor, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, and similar franchises have raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits over the years, but their emergence and popularity is a relatively recent phenomenon in gaming.
Back in the 1990s, military simulation games, especially FPS games, were practically unheard of. The shift from barely occupying even a fraction of a fraction of the gaming market to becoming the kind of titles that drive console purchases and generate huge profits rests entirely on the vision of famed director Steven Spielberg. During the post-production phase of the critically acclaimed World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg was watching his teenage son and his friends play Golden Eye on Nintendo 64. Spielberg started thinking about how a first person shooter game could be used to teach people about World War II. He went to the offices of his newly hatched development company, Dreamworks Interactive, and pitched the idea of creating a historically accurate World War II action/FPS game, but was told by his developers that the topic was stale and people just weren’t into World War II history.
Regardless, Spielberg pressed ahead with the project anyway. The result was the first Medal of Honor game (1999) which, thanks to good game development coupled with Spielberg’s insistence on historical accuracy, was both critically and popularly well received. Although over the next ten years the public did eventually lose interest in World War II themed FPS games, the general genre of accurate military shooters is still going strong.
Image courtesy of Electronic Arts.