This Month In Video Game History: June

June 1971: 
Two Stanford graduates form the company Computer Recreations, Inc. In September that same year, they release what is widely considered to be the first known arcade game – Galaxy Space – technically beating Computer Space by two months (though it was never mass produced). Coincidentally, both are just intentional clones of Spacewar anyway.

June 22, 1979: Developer Infocom is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They made a name for themselves with pioneering text-based adventure games like Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (arguably one of the first truly great licensed games).

June 1981: Only his second game, Richard Garriot releases the role-playing game Ultima, the first game in a series that remains active to this day. It is considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential game franchises of all time, including spawning the first blockbuster MMORPG, Ultima Online.

June 19, 1983: Famed animator Don Bluth put his talents to use in the revolutionary laserdisc arcade game Dragon’s Lair, released on this day. Having a hand-drawn, fully animated video game next to arcade cabinets like Dig Dug and Q*Bert blew gamers’ minds, even if it was little more than a mildly interactive movie. Ironically, many of today’s top games feature gameplay that isn’t too far off from that…

June 1984: While we like to stick with North American dates for our almanacs, the fact that Alexey Pajitnov created freaking TETRIS this month absolutely cannot be skipped over, even if it was in the USSR. In Communist Russia, blocks stack YOU.

June 1988: Nintendo sends out the final issue of “Nintendo Fun Club News”, a free periodical (and precursor to Nintendo Power magazine) sent to members of the Nintendo Fun Club (which was also free to join). Remember that? When game companies sent you stuff for free just because they loved you?

June 23, 1991: Today is the birthday of the only character that ever even came close to being a worthy rival to Mario: Sonic the Hedgehog. His first outing was released this day for the Sega Genesis – retroactively surprisingly, nearly 2 years after that system first launched in North America (and 3 years after the Japanese launch).

June 5, 1992: LucasArts was just as well known for its string of brilliant point-and-click adventure games in the 90’s as it was for its Star Wars-based games, and one of the most beloved of those games – Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – released today. However, the version reissued in May of 1993 for CD-ROM, featuring full voice acting, is arguably the more “definitive” version.

June 1993: Speaking of definitive, many people consider the LucasArts game released in this month in 1993, Maniac Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle, to be the pinnacle of all that was great about LucasArts adventure games during that era. It is also still considered to be one of the funniest and best-written games of all time.

June 1996: Apparently June is a good month to found a game company that makes hugely influential and successful game franchises. This time it’s Firaxis Games, and the franchise is Civilization.

June 2000: This was a month of some very huge PC game releases, including Diablo II, Deus Ex, Icewind Dale and Shogun: Total War. It’s a good thing all of those games took awhile to come out with sequels, because if you picked them all up you weren’t ready for any new games for at least a few years.

June 2001: After a long post-launch draught, the PlayStation 2 library finally started to bulk up a bit around Spring of 2001, and Twisted Metal: Black was the centerpiece of that renaissance. Dreamcast owners, on the other hand, already had more great games than they knew what to do with, but still had to make room for another solid new title in the form of Sonic Adventure 2.