Last week I talked about one of the games that shifted the early 90s video gaming landscape. Today comes the second. What Doom did for action games, Warcraft did for strategy. Its central idea, that you were under attack and had to act immediately caught on fast, and soon “real-time strategy” was everywhere. Once these two games hit, good luck finding much of anything that wasn’t one or the other.
I never played Warcraft. I saw it being played and frankly, it didn’t look like it would be fun for me. It seemed like everything I didn’t like about games like Civilization and SimCity 3000, but with the added bonus of taking place in real time. This in addition to the main appeal being playing against others meant it was, again, probably not a game for me. Combined, the popularity of first-person shooter and real-time strategy games were what got me to move from the PC as my gaming platform to the PlayStation in the mid-90s.
Elements of RTS made its way into other games I played, such as the Baldur’s Gate games, but the simple act of allowing me to pause the game and see how things were going made all the difference.
Although I never played Warcraft, I eventually grabbed a cheap copy of Starcraft, just to see for myself if I could get into this thing. It turned out all my apprehensions about the genre…were absolutely on target. Starcraft was just a miserable experience in stress and frustration for me. I didn’t get very far in it before I shelved it, and that was the end of that. Real-time strategy (and its current-era descendant, tower defense) would just have to be a thing without me.