Geek Trivia

Which PC Game Was The First to Be Flown Into Space?

Galactic Civilizations
Alpha Centauri
Dead Space
The Khasi People Of Northern India Craft What Out Of Living Trees?

Answer: StarCraft

Although Tetris has the distinction of being the first video game of any sort ferried into space—it was taken aboard the Mir space station in 1993 by Russian Cosmonaut Aleksandr A. Serebrov—the distinction of first PC game in space belongs to the real-time strategy game StarCraft.

In the spring of 1999, Mission Specialist Daniel T. Barry brought along a copy of the smash-hit game StarCraft secured among his personal effects. The copy of StarCraft completed the journey with him, traveled a total of 3.7 million miles over the course of nearly 10 days, and was shipped off to the Blizzard offices after Mission STS-96 was finished. In an interview with Blizzard in 2017, Barry explained why he chose to take the game with him:

I decided to take StarCraft with me when I went into space because…well, a number of reasons. One is that I really enjoyed the game, but, you know, I enjoyed a lot of games. The primary reason was because I saw StarCraft as something that helped me to stay in touch with my family while I was traveling.

I was away from home a lot as part of the astronaut job, but also partly because our family situation was that my wife was a professor in Massachusetts, so I was commuting a lot between Houston and Massachusetts. When you have kids, you want to stay connected every day. I would read them books. I used to read about an hour, sometimes an hour and a half at night, and so we went through—do you know there are 16 different Wizard of Oz books? I didn’t know that, but we went through them all.

Another thing we did was we’d play games together, and StarCraft, in particular, stood out as a game that my son and I played for years as a way to just have fun together and I really feel like [StarCraft] brought us closer together as a family. Then, of course, the space theme and all that stuff…it just fit. StarCraft and Go were the only two games that I brought to space.

Naturally, you’re probably curious if he got to play the game while in space. Alas, the way things work when astronauts “fly” with items is that the majority of the items they choose to fly with them are stored away and inaccessible to them during their time aboard the space station. Even if he had been able to keep the StarCraft disc out, Barry noted in the same interview that he wouldn’t have had much time to play it, and getting approval to install a video game on a NASA laptop aboard the station would have definitely been more than a little bit tricky.