DescriptionThe micro side to Missile Command's macro game, this (similarly unwinnable) Cold War game puts the player in control of average American everyman Mike, charged by sudden circumstance with building a fallout shelter in his basement by slowly climbing two flights of stairs to the attic, where three cinder blocks need to be carried down to build it out of.
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First art videogameThis game was originally part of a 1983 art exhibition, "GOVERNMENT APPROVED HOME FALLOUT SHELTER AND SNACK BAR", at New York's Castelli Graphics, where the gallery was staged as a fallout shelter in which patrons might be spending some time waiting for the all-clear. The playable game was part of this installation.
The game was exhibited in the New Museum in New York and subsequently toured over twenty art museums around the world, collecting quarters from art lovers.
Though it ran on a Commodore 64, the game was installed in a full arcade cabinet with marquees, coin drop mechanism and industrial joystick (all functional) allowing frustrating play as a stand-up arcade game.
The NY Times art section's (1983) Year in Review referred to Mike Builds A Shelter as the "first videogame as fine art". It has since been the subject of scholarly analysis by art historians of videogames.