As I was sick on Thursday, and busy the rest of the week, I decided to do an analysis of the 1980’s arcade game, Missile Command. This piece of brilliant artwork is one of my biggest arguments for why video games CAN be art, and I shall take you through an adventure on why missile command is amazing. If you have never played missile command before, go now. Play it now, then return to this analysis.
In missile command, you take charge as an officer in charge of an under budgeted missile defense system for a circumstance you thought would never happen: The nuclear apocalypse. You frantically fight wave after wave of missiles until all of your cities are gone, and you are left with a cryptic message: “The End”.
This game is so brilliant on so many levels. Why are you defending a small number of cities? Because anyone can imagine a few cities that they could be defending. Why do missiles target both your cities and your bases? To force you to make a tough decision: Do I protect my bases so that I may defend the few cities left? Do I defend the cities over my bases due to my obligation to defend them at the cost of the defenders lives? Do I let one city live and the rest of them die so that I might be able to hold off the missiles for as long as possible? This game is incredible. It puts a ton of pressure on the player to perform perfectly, and yet, as nobody is perfect, it shows the consequences of nuclear war in a way that people can only “feel” rather than “see”.