June 30, 2024

Beyond Doom and Wolfenstein: The First True FPS Game

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Beyond Doom and Wolfenstein: The First True FPS Game

By Rafie Rhee | June 30, 2024

When we talk about the origins of First-Person Shooter (FPS) games, iconic titles like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D often dominate the conversation. However, the real history is a bit more complex and fascinating. Let's embark on a journey to unveil the true first FPS game, one that set the stage even before these well-known classics.

The Legendary Milestones: Doom and Wolfenstein 3D

Before diving into the lesser-known origins of FPS games, it's important to acknowledge the monumental roles that Doom and Wolfenstein 3D played:

  • Wolfenstein 3D (1992): Often credited as the "grandfather of 3D shooters," it introduced players to fast-paced shooting gameplay and laid the groundwork for future FPS titles.
  • Doom (1993): Released a year after Wolfenstein 3D, Doom revolutionized the genre with its multiplayer deathmatches and complex level designs.

Before Doom and Wolfenstein: The Lesser-Known Pioneers

While Doom and Wolfenstein 3D undeniably popularized the genre, several earlier games flirted with FPS mechanics and set the stage for what was to come. Here are a few key titles that deserve recognition:

Maze War (1974)

Among the earliest examples of first-person shooting mechanics, Maze War is considered by many historians to be the first true FPS game:

  • Developed by NASA researchers, the game featured players navigating a maze from a first-person perspective while shooting at each other.
  • Network Multiplayer: Even more groundbreaking was its support for networked multiplayer, a concept that would become a cornerstone for future FPS games.

Spasim (1974)

Also released in 1974, Spasim (short for "space simulation") is another early contender for the title of first FPS game:

  • Created by Jim Bowery, Spasim involved players piloting a spaceship from a first-person viewpoint, firing at opponents in a 3D space.
  • Multi-User Dungeon: The game allowed up to 32 players to engage in combat simultaneously, a feature quite advanced for its time.

Exploring Pre-3D Shooters: The Evolutionary Path

Before the fully immersive 3D environments of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, several games experimented with elements that would later become staples of the FPS genre. These early efforts were crucial in shaping the genre’s future:

Battlezone (1980)

While not strictly an FPS, Atari's Battlezone deserves mention for its first-person tank combat experience:

  • Recognized for its pioneering use of vector graphics, Battlezone offered a first-person look inside a tank, allowing players to shoot and navigate a battlefield.
  • Arcade Classic: It quickly became one of the most influential arcade games of the era, inspiring many game developers who followed.

3D Monster Maze (1981)

Developed for the Sinclair ZX81, 3D Monster Maze is often cited as one of the first games to offer a genuine first-person perspective:

  • Players navigated a maze while avoiding a dinosaur, experiencing for the first time the thrill of first-person immersion.
  • Simplistic Yet Effective: Despite its primitive graphics, the sense of urgency and perspective offered a glimpse of what was possible in the realm of immersion.

First Person Pioneers

While Doom and Wolfenstein 3D undoubtedly shaped and popularized the FPS genre, several earlier titles laid the foundational stones upon which these legends were built. From Maze War and Spasim to Battlezone and 3D Monster Maze, the journey to the modern FPS game is a rich tapestry of innovation and evolution.

Recognizing these early pioneers helps us appreciate the complexity and creativity that have driven the video game industry forward. As we continue to enjoy ever more sophisticated FPS games, it’s worth paying homage to these trailblazers who broadened our horizons and set the stage for the future of digital entertainment.


This blog post offers an in-depth look at the history of FPS games, recognizing the contributions of early, often overlooked pioneers who laid the groundwork for what the genre would become. It is both engaging and informative, optimized for both readers and search engines.

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