Is July 31 The Most Important Day In Gaming History?
You’ve likely heard a lot of juicy tales regarding the creation of some of the industry’s biggest games, but the stories behind the stories are even juicer. Did you know that July 31 is actually one of the most eventful days in gaming history? Learn about all of the historic happenings that have occurred on this day throughout the years.
July 31, 1974 – Future game designer Shigeru Miyamoto watches in horror as a freak electrical surge overloads the family computer and traps his brother’s soul inside the machine. The young Miyamoto vows to give his brother’s life meaning. Years later, Miyamoto designs the Legend of Zelda, finally bringing to life the fantasy world he and his brother dreamed about as children. To this day, Miyamoto believes that if he ever stops making Zelda games his brother’s soul will fade from reality.
July 31 1982 – Atari game designer Howard Scott Warshaw meets with legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, but during the meeting, Spielberg accidentally refers to Howard as Herman. Embittered, Warshaw spends the next several weeks designing a game based off Spielberg’s film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that is so terrible it almost ruins the film. Spielberg learns of Warshaw's plans and hires actors Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford to sneak into Atari’s manufacturing plant, steal every copy of the game, and bury them in a New Mexican desert.
July 31, 1975 – Before founding Apple, tech legends Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak work out of Job’s garage on an advanced prototype of a liquid-cooled LED display. Unfortunately, during the assembly of the hardware, Jobs sneezes on one of the circuit boards, resulting in a bug that causes the display to project a series of random characters. These random characters end up being the exact programming code for the game Breakout. Wozniak takes credit for making Jobs sneeze, and Jobs buys the game rights from Wozniak for $20 and a can of Diet Coke.
July 31 1988 – Sony engineer Ken Kutaragi is carefully carrying one of Sony’s prototype CD players down the street when he turns a corner and bumps into a Nintendo executive carrying a Nintendo Entertainment System. This collision creates a hybrid NES that plays CDs. Both companies are ecstatic about the new technology and name the console the Nintendo PlayStation. Unfortunately, relations between the two companies break down when neither can agree on what kind of hors d'oeuvres to serve at the launch party. Sony breaks off to start its own video game division.
July 31, 65,000,000 B.C. – An asteroid collides with the Earth’s surface, eradicating dinosaur life worldwide. The disaster inspires engineers Lyle Rains, Ed Logg, and Dominic Walsh to design a prototype asteroid buster that will protect all remaining life on Earth from these bad-apple asteroids. Unfortunately, the asteroid buster never makes it out of prototyping because Ed Logg’s wife feels that the concept works better as a game. The Atari’s classic Asteroids is born.
July 31, 2007 – While studying abroad in Ireland, a young Jonathon Blow encounters a leprechaun with a broken leg. Blow takes the leprechaun home and nurses it back to health. Grateful, the leprechaun grants Blow one wish, and Blow asked to become the greatest video game programmer of all time. In a furious design session that lasts 76 hours, Blow programs the entirety of the indie hit Braid. Blow designs his next game, The Witness, in a record-breaking 38 hours, but decides that it is too good for the average gamer and spends the next several years “dumbing it down.”
July 31, 1993 – Developers John Romero and John Carmack are busy working on their next game – a first-person shooter about a space marine who single-handedly cuts down Hell’s invading armies. John Carmack wants to name the game Dom after his grandfather Dominick Springbottom, who had tragically died in an oil-drilling explosion the year before. Unfortunately, a typo in the game’s press release refers to the game as Doom and the name sticks.
July 31, 1998 – Young farmhand Nolan North is casually strolling through his grandparent’s farm in Albert City, Iowa when he is accosted by a group of individuals he later describes as grey aliens. These individuals drug North and begin a series of experiments on his body before dropping him back off at his family farm a week before the abduction. North soon discovers that his voice has been altered to achieve near-perfect human pitch and decided to begin a career as a video game voice actor. Ironically, exactly 10 years later, while vacationing in Italy, North is assaulted by lifelong rival Troy Baker who steals North’s voice and leaves the veteran voice actor for dead in a wine cellar.
July 31, 1996 – Designer Mike Dailly begins quietly working on the first Grand Theft Auto game. However, the game is originally very different from the series we know today. Dailly envisioned that the game would star a gritty version of the Cowardly Lion from the children’s classic, The Wizard Of Oz. Lion would travel through a shadowy underworld in a 1986 Pontiac Firebird as he psychically battled the monsters in people’s dreams. During an investor meeting, Dailly became visibly agitated and starting yelling, “It’s about a lion who lives in your mind!” Dailly continues to chant, “It’s about a lion who lives in your mind,” until he is escorted out of the building. Rockstar soon changed the game’s setting to match the modern cityscape that gamers around the world are now familiar with.