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Space Invaders is an arcade video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally. Space Invaders is one of the earliest shooting games and the aim is to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon to earn as many points as possible. In designing the game, Nishikado drew inspiration from popular media: Breakout, The War of the Worlds, and Star Wars. To complete it, he had to design custom hardware and development tools.
It was one of the forerunners of modern video gaming and helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry. When first released, Space Invaders was very successful and popular. Following its release, the game caused a temporary shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan, grossedUS$2 billion in quarters by 1982, and by 2007 had earned Taito over $500 million in profits. Guinness World Records ranks it the top arcade game.
The game has been the inspiration for other video games, re-released on numerous platforms, and led to several sequels. The 1980 Atari 2600 version quadrupled the system’s sales and became the first “killer app” for video game consoles. Space Invaders has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows, and been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions.
The pixelated enemy alien has become a pop culture icon, often used as a synecdoche representing video games as a whole.