‘Star Wars’ And ‘Monopoly’ Creator Opens Up

Star Wars and Monopoly game creator Parker Brothers opened up about how one of the first Star Wars video games was made.

The Empire Strikes Back was a story about rebels slipping under the radar to beat an empire at their own game, and that doesn’t just apply to the movie. Back in the days of the Atari VCS, one of the earliest video game consoles ever made, third-party games were almost unheard of. Along came newcomers Activision (yes, they’ve been around that long) and Parker Brothers, and the game was changed. Thus Star Wars got its first licensed game ever.

Parker Brothers programmer Rex Bradford said, “Parker Brothers was just a typical Yankee board game manufacturer. Making [video games] was a new kind of thing for them.”

Parker Brothers had a smash hit in their video game Merlin, one of the first of many portable games back before we had ever heard of Game Boy. It wasn’t long before their president had set his sights on the new Atari machine.

Bill Bracy, then marketing director for Parker Brothers, said, “It was like David and Goliath. Atari was a behemoth in the industry and totally controlled an enormous volume. But they were vulnerable in the software aspect because, unlike Nintendo, they hadn’t been able to secure a monopoly on the hardware and software.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Nintendo was around before Sony and Microsoft even had a plan in the video game market.

In a leap of faith, Parker Brothers made a deal with Lucasfilm to make a game for the Atari console, a whole new frontier for a company known for its board games. Thus The Empire Strikes Back was created for the Atari VCS, and Star Wars had its first licensed game on a video game console.

Rex Bradford ruminated, “In general, the Atari [VCS] was so limited that we weren’t so grandiose to say: ‘Oh, we’re going to recreate the experience of the movie here’. It was clearly going to be a limited experience, something that at best would remind you of the movie, evoke a little bit of the emotion and most importantly be a fun game to play.”

What do you think of how the creators of Monopoly made the first Star Wars game?