Hard as it may be to believe, one of video gaming’s landmark titles, Space Invaders, was almost designed to not actually be Space Invaders at all—or Space Invaders for Dummies at very best.
It seems ridiculous to think given the household tools of today, but in in the mid-to-late 1970s, engineer Tomohiro Nishikado had to build his hardware single-handedly as the Japanese computers of the time couldn’t process his vision, at least not with a full screen of aliens invading.
See where we’re going with this?
As the invading swathes were wiped from the player’s screen, Nishikado’s hardware could run the game closer to the speed he intended, thus increasing the difficulty the further one progressed, albeit completely by accident.
This gradient in speed and thus difficulty naturally evolved to become a feature, and one of the most influential arcade games, nay, games of any kind, was born in earnest.
The concept of a “difficulty curve” has since been adapted as a video game vice and one that’s essential to maintaining player intrigue.
Thank you, old, slow Japanese computers. We owe you one.