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Obviously, crediting a "Director" was borrowed from the cinema industry. It was a new trend in computer game development in the late 1980s and early 1990s to embrace the story-telling aspect of a movie within games.

I'd point to the aptly named "Cinemaware" games beginning in 1986. And the trend grew stronger with the rising popularity of CD-ROM and full-motion video as providing the necessary storage and playback to introduce more cinema like content to a game.

Origin's "Wing Commander" was an early (1990) game that embraced these concepts and also credited "Director Chris Roberts" in the game itself.

When did this job title first appear in the credits for a video game? Who were the early/famous Directors, and what were they expected to contribute to the game development effort?

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  • Come on, it was story telling right from the start. Mario wanted to save the princess, Hamurabi build an empire and settlers marched the Oregon trail. Not to mention all the adventures and CRPG. – Raffzahn Dec 13 '19 at 16:36
  • While the movie industry is the likely source of the name, I don't know how much the role of video game director actually has to do with the role of movie director. The term "director" is used in wide range of management titles in game development, art director, creative director, technical director, etc – user722 Dec 13 '19 at 17:57
  • @RossRidge Usually when a game's development follows this model, you'll see credits for "Producer" also. So I think they are defining both these roles at least similarly to the movie industry. – Brian H Dec 13 '19 at 18:27
  • @Raffzahn I don't think the simple goal or objective of early games qualifies as the same level of narrative later games aspired to. It's sort of like saying a nursery rhyme, a short story, a novella, and a novel are all "basically the same". – Brian H Dec 13 '19 at 18:29
  • @BrianH Well, actually, I'd say that the "producer" title in a game is the closest thing you get to the "director" title in a movie, despite the role being closer to the movie "executive producer" role. In particular the producer usually is the only one that could be called the "auteur" of the game. The problem is that in game development there really isn't a role that's much like a movie director. Well, aside from the directors filming any live-action video in the game, but their subordinate role just shows how different game development is. – user722 Dec 13 '19 at 18:44

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