I've just read a very interesting article in yesterday's Guardian about the history of one of the most influential computer games of all time, David Braben and Ian Bell's Elite, a game to which I lost a sizeable portion of my childhood to. Its interesting to read how they created such a totally immersive, expansive universe in just a few kilobytes of code, using a a Fibonacci-like preset sequence of numbers as parameters - set up the seed value for the sequence of values, see what it generates in that individual galaxy, and only keep those that have evolved, by chance, into a playable, workable universe. The resulting game world appeared perfectly designed, much as natural selection in biological systems gives the illusion of purposeful design. This thing stole my imagination as a kid. In my mind I'm drifting through space again as I type, fearful of that pixel on the edge of my vision - Thargon mothership or roaming asteroid...
We take so much for granted in game design nowadays. Not ignoring the value that text-adventures played in pushing the gamer's imagination, Elite was where the evolution started. It showed where things could lead. In three glorious dimensions. Actually, make that four.
And my spatial awareness has never been the same again.