Game Over?

By Michael Fitzgerald | Boston Magazine |

Maybe that will be the guys at the Tap Lab, working on their citywide version of capture the flag. Or perhaps it’s some kids in a basement in Worcester. Then again, it could even be Harmonix and Rigopulos, if they prove they can play in multiple arenas at the same time.

“Boston’s a great city — we have deep talent and resources. The game companies that are here do excellent, high-quality games,” says Craig Alexander, who heads up product development at Turbine. “We can be an interesting industry, doing cool things, and be another core strength. We’re not cannibalizing hospitals or education or enterprise software development — we’re an addition to that.” 


Gamer’s Paradise: A Timeline

Thanks to top-notch game-development programs at area colleges like MIT, Boston has one of the best gaming industries in the country. Here, we look at a few highlights through the years.

  • 1961 Spacewar! is conceived by an MIT team led by Steve Russell, and becomes the first widely played computer game.
  • 1977 Zork, a text-based role-playing computer game, is developed by four MIT computer scientists.
  • 1995 Harmonix is founded in Cambridge by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy to build multimedia music software.
  • 1999 Then based in Westwood, Turbine releases Asheron’s Call, one of the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.
  • 2005 Harmonix and ­RedOctane release Guitar Hero, creating the music-simulation game.
  • 2007 One year after being acquired by MTV, Harmonix releases Rock Band, which goes on to become a billion-dollar game.
  • 2007 Quincy-based Irrational Games releases BioShock, which has sold more than 8 million copies to date.
  • 2007 Turbine releases The Lord of the Rings Online, a highly successful Internet world based on the Tolkien franchise.
  • 2009 Dave Bisceglia and Ralph Shao graduate from BU and start the Tap Lab to develop social mobile games.
  • 2010 Harmonix releases Dance Central; Viacom sells off the company in December.
  • 2011 Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios moves to Rhode Island, lured by $75 million in loan guarantees.
  • 2011 Zynga buys Cambridge-based Conduit Labs and Waltham’s Floodgate Entertainment and merges them into Zynga Boston, which releases Adventure World in September 2011.