This 1987 First Person Shooter Video Game Used MIDI For Multiplayer Mode

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Posted on: March 4, 2017
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It’s likely  that you use MIDI every day in yrou studio or live production setup and workflow. Whether you’re connecting MIDI hardware synths or drum machines to other hardware or software… or perhaps you’re using MIDI over USB with the multitude of controllers available. Over 30 years sinc its inception and MIDI just continues. This standard still meets the connectiity needs for most of us.

Read Peter Schwartz’s excellent article on MIDI over the past 33 years here.

So, seeing as how simple MIDI makes it easy to connect music hardware to other music hardware, it might not surprise you to know that one of the first ever first person shooter video games (released in 1987), MIDI Maze, took advantage of the popular protocol.

By today’s standards, MIDI Maze is an incredibly simple-looking game. But at the time it was advanced and probably was the first example of death matches in video games. Characters were represented by simley faces – not unlike Pacman – and the rest you can guess.

What’s of interest is how MIDI Mazes multiplayer network required the use of the Atari’s MIDI interface. In theory you could run up to 16 computers in a networked “MIDI Ring”. You’d connect one computer’s MIDI-OUT port to the next computer’s MIDI-IN port. But, often more than 4 players tended to slow the game down.

However, it worked, and became a cult video game that was spawned a generation of “death match” and “first person shooters”. And it just shows what an incredibly flexible standard MIDI is and how it can be used in ways you might not expect.





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