Before Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Super Mario Bros., the video game industry exploded in the late 1970s with the advent of the video arcade. Leading the charge was Atari Inc., the creator of, among others, the iconic game Missile Command. The first game to double as a commentary on culture, Missile Command put the players' fingers on "the button," making them responsible for the fate of civilisation in a no-win scenario, all for the price of a coin. The game was a marvel of modern culture, helping to usher in the age of the gaming lifestyle.
As fascinating as the cultural reactions were the programmers behind the games. They worked tirelessly, sometimes 120-hour weeks, to meet stiff deadlines. Missile Command creator David Theurer threw himself fervently into his work, prompting not only declining health and a suffering relationship with his family, but frequent nightmares about nuclear annihilation. A deep exploration of the unseen and overlooked complexities and challenges of creating something so vivid and graphic during such a tumultuous era, Missile Command will delight and inform readers hungry for books about video games and pop culture history.
ALEX RUBENS is a Strategic Content Management specialist at Google, leading YouTube's eSports division. He has written articles on video game culture and development for pop culture outlets such as Complex and HuffPost and video game websites Polygon, IGN, and Kotaku.