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Know Your Gaming History: Where Did the Term Game Gods Come From? September 30, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Histories.

I think there are a lot of people out there that want to know more about the history of gaming, but don’t know where to begin. I do not believe I would be any good to anyone without a full history of the industry I’ve been covering on this site for over the past year, nor do I think anyone should dare put a key to the keyboard that isn’t fully versed on what they’re writing about. As someone who has been following the history of gaming for the past ten years (and sharing some of that information with all of you) I would like to share with you a few of my favorite sources for gaming history.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of disinformation out there (even from normally genuine sources). We live in a world where I saw a documentary on The History Channel call the original Playstation the first (compact) disc game console, and that’s just completely incorrect. Compact discs have been used in game consoles since the days of the CD-i, 3DO, and Sega CD, all of which came out around 1991 (some of those first came out in Japan) whereas the original Playstation launched in December, 1994 in Japan.

So where can one find good information about gaming history, and where did gaming start? Well, I don’t want to give a whole lecture about the history of games in general (that might be for another day) but I would like to float out some great sources I’ve found over the course of my life which still hold up.

Anyone who visits the site regularly knows I throw around the term “God” as a nickname for a select few of game developers, and I’m sure some of you wonder why. Thais because there was a list of game developers published who at the time were considered the best in the field (many who are still fondly remembered) and called the “Game Gods.” For those of you curious where the original list of what game developers were called “Game Gods”, that came from an article written ten years ago for PC Gamer Magazine, where they comprised a pretty lengthy list of some of the best game makers, who worked on some of the best PC Games at the time, and called them the “Game Gods”. Guys like Warren Spector, John Carmack, Tim Schaffer, Sid Meyer, and Wil Wright made that original list, which is why whenever I reference them in my work they have the nickname of God. The list was later expanded a year later to what they called the “next” generation of game gods, focusing on a younger generation of game developers they believed showed a lot of promise, and that list included American McGee, CliffyB and Stevie Case.

There was a G4 show later on called “Game Gods” but they profiled guys like John Romero, which was kind of odd since they interviewed genuine game gods (Carmack and Spector) to talk about someone who lost his title after making Daikatana. Although, to G4’s credit, according to Masters of Doom, Romero had been calling himself “God” openly at the high points of his career. While I would not consider him a God (I don’t think he was featured in the original article), he may be the origin of the term.

There’s no question that while some of those developers have retired from game development, most of the guys who made the original list are still at the top of their field and have released tons of hits after the article had been published. The next generation on the other hand was a bit more hit or miss. While CliffyB has since graduated to full God status with the Gears of War franchise, Stevie Case left the gaming business for many years, and American McGee would never get the same high praise for a game after the release of Alice.

I don’t think PC Gamer ever made another list after the next generation. I cancelled my subscription about a year ago after a ten-year run. I don’t know, the magazine had some pretty awful redesigns over the years and lost some of its charm for me, but some of those older issues I’ll still site back to. Nowadays the term Game refers to more than just PC, and I think the list should be rewritten to take into effect console developers and the developers who created the foundation for gaming as it is today, like Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto. Also, plenty of new people have stepped up over the past ten years to take a swipe at that title, and probably have earned it, including David Jaffe, Sam Lake, or Hideo Kojima.

I think for this new millennium a new list must be made. Any takers or do I have to do everything myself?


1. The Definitive Game Gods | gameXcess.net - Gaming News, Videos and Editorials! - March 6, 2013

[…] Anyone who visits the site regularly knows I throw around the term “God” as a nickname for a select group of certain game developers, and I’m sure a few of you wonder why I do that. I refer to some game developers as Gods because over ten years ago there was a article about several game developers published by PC Gamer Magazine called the “Game Gods.”  It was a list of some of the best PC game directors who were considered the best in the field at the time, and many of them are still fondly remembered.  If you’re interested in more about the history of the Game Gods, I have a longer article about it which you can read here. […]

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