The Surprising Origins Behind Your Favourite Games

Written by Bob Rogers
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Gaming is one of the most popular sectors in entertainment today. Now that video games are truly mainstream, some of the most popular franchises have led to live-action and animated remakes on the silver screen.

From The Super Mario Bros. Movie to The Last of Us to The Witcher, these projects have allowed former gamers to enjoy their favourite content in a new way. 

This trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. The more headlines that a game earns, the more likely it is to see a second life as a TV show or a feature-length film. This helps expand a franchise into new forms of media—which every fan loves. But that doesn’t mean that some of the world’s most well-known games are actually that straightforward.

In fact, some of them have outright strange and surprising origin stories. Do you know about some of the world’s most popular titles and where they come from? Let’s take a deeper look.


Roulette is one of the world’s most iconic casino games. Millions around the world spin virtual wheels at online casinos while croupiers do the same at brick-and-mortar establishments. But did you know that this game has its origins in a failed physics experiment from the late 1600s? 

Once upon a time in France, a meddling physicist-mathematician named Blaise Pascal hoped to prove his latest theories by creating a perpetual motion machine. His idea failed—but gaming houses in Paris adapted the wheel and combined it with the Italian game of biri-biri, which helped steer the arrangement of roulette numbers on the table.

 The Oregon Trail

Many North Americans recognize this game as one of fate and strategy. The Oregon Trail puts players into the shoes of largely hapless colonial settlers who venture across North America in search of a new life in the West. Along the way, things like dysentery, raging rivers, and snake bites tend to get in the way. 

Did you know this game was actually created to help educate students about life during the Frontier era? The Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium first produced it in 1971. The game was designed to educate students about colonial life and expose them to computer technology.


You probably know Minecraft as the world’s best-selling game, with over 300 million copies sold around the world and an active user count hovering somewhere around 140 million. The game’s premise is simple: players can build their own worlds, fight hostile mobs, and work with or against their fellow players. As a sandbox game, the options are almost limitless.

But did you know that this game started out as a passion project from a programmer named Markus ‘Notch’ Persson? He enjoyed gaming so much that he began tinkering after work on a project he called ‘RubyDung’, an isometric and three-dimensional prototype of what would eventually become Minecraft.

The Surprising Origins Behind Your Favorite Games 2

Sonic the Hedgehog

Almost everyone recognizes this blue hedgehog-esque creature—and fondly, no doubt. But did you know that this famous gaming character is actually one of the last vestiges of Sega’s power? Back in the early 1990s, Sega needed an answer to Nintendo’s quickly rising popularity. The goal was to create a hero that would challenge Mario’s reach. 

In 1991, Sega released the very first Sonic game for its Genesis console—and it worked. Sonic provided an alternative gaming experience for those who weren’t excited by Nintendo’s releases. It helped give the company the financial power and stability for its other 1990s releases, including Mortal Kombat and even the first NBA Jam.

Nathan Drake from Uncharted

Lastly, we’re rounding off with the origin story behind one of the most popular heroes in the action-adventure genre. Along with characters like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, Nathan Drake is one of the most visible fictional adventure heroes—but the inspiration behind his look isn’t quite as well-known. Back when Naughty Dog were first crafting their daredevil-esque hero, they decided to base his appearance on one of the real world’s craziest stuntmen: the infamous Johnny Knoxville.

Read 409 times Last modified on Monday, 20 May 2024 19:48
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Bob Rogers

Bob Rogers

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