August 12, 2022

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The best cameo on ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ is a real-life video game Spacewar

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The Book of Boba Fett is yet another chance for Star Wars fans to spot fun Easter eggs and cameos, but the best one of those so far is actually a video game. In the second episode, Boba Fett hunts down a speeder bike gang in a cantina on Tatooine. As part of the entertainment, the bar owner has installed a computer game that similar to the holographic chess game on the Millenium Falcon in A New Hope. But instead of a hologram, this computer is displaying a re-creation of the real-life Spacewar game from 1961.

Spacewar is the first digital video game. Massachusetts Institute of Technology students Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen created the game for the early DEC PDP-1 mainframe computer. And the game fits well with the Star Wars aesthetic because it originally operated on an oscilloscope monitor. That gives it its round shape that you see in the breifly in the show.

In Spacewar, two players each control their own ship in a starfield. The goal is to fire torpedoes to destroy one another. The twist is that a blackhole in the center of the screen can throw off the trajectory of your flight path.

You can try the game for yourself at the Masswerk website, which re-created the game by emulating the PDP-1 in JavaScript and HTML5.

Spacewar isn’t the oldest “video” game. Engineers on the Manhattan Project created a proto-Pong game called Tennis for Two, but that ran on an analog machine. And Spacewar was the game that inspired the people who would go on to create the video game industry. Spacewar is such a good example of video games that it even spawned the first clones: Galaxy Game and Computer Space, which both launched in 1971.

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