07 January 2020
Royal Mail has today (7 January) released a set of pixelated postage stamps honouring the UK’s contribution to video games during the 1980s and 1990s.
These new British stamps are unashamedly nostalgic, recreating scenes from some of the earliest computer games created in the UK.
As Royal Mail point out: ‘the roots of Britain’s video game industry can be traced back to the very early 1980s… This classic video games issue will evoke nostalgia and celebrate the joy of gaming through landmark UK-designed games.’
Two decades of video games
Space trading game Elite is shown on one of the two 2nd class stamps, note the stamps’ denomination is shown in a pixelated font, with the other 2nd class value featuring a scene from the 1995 hit Worms. But we should first go back to the 1980s, with the next video game being 1987’s Dizzy.
Our next game, chronologically, is Populous, one of the best-selling PC games of all time, which appears on a £1.60 value. The game allowed users to ‘play God’, leading followers across a series of levels (500 in total) and aiming to defeat a rival deity.
Gaming in the nineties
The 1990s saw video games develop in many ways, as software developers took advantage of the developing technology and growing range of home computers and let their imaginations run wild. Lemmings was an ingenious game that challenged the player to save long lines of the cute but mindless creatures from falling, walking or climbing to their death over obstacles and scenery.
Of course, many of the most popular video games simply recreate sports, and we see Sensible Soccer on the second 1st class stamp, a game that became popular thanks in part to its birds-eye view of the action.
Meanwhile, on the £1.55 value we see another birds-eye view game with a sporty theme. Micro Machines took the Hasbro toys of the same name and allowed gamers to control the dinky vehicles as they raced across bedroom floors, desks and other minuscule settings.
The final game continues the racing theme, as we leap forward a few years to the release of the Sony Playstation. Wipeout was another groundbreaking game with a unique futuristic feel, as players guided their speedy levitating vehicles through complex tracks in a bid to come top of the ‘F3600 anti-gravity racing league’.
Whilst the eight stamps chart the progression of UK video games, the mini sheet shows the evolution of just one game, Tomb Raider. The adventure game was first released in 1996, and sees the fictional British archaeologist Lara Croft explore the world in search of lost artefacts. The game was a huge success and even inspired a series of films.
The four-stamp mini-sheet shows scenes from four different versions of the game, from 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2013, the latter stamp illustrating just how far video game graphics had come since the pioneering days of the 1980s.
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