Retro Game Designers: Laura Nikolich and her Spider-Man


Stan Lee plays Spider-Man video game for Atari 2600 - 80s and 90s Arcades, Retro Games and Classic Video Games

In this photo, Stan Lee plays Spider-Man for the Atari 2600, surrounded by his characters.

Spider-Man is a vertical scrolling action game for the Atari 2600 published by Parker Brothers in 1982. It was the first game ever to have a character from the Marvel comics as its protagonist.

Spider-Man for Atari 2600 - 80s and 90s Arcades, Retro Games and Classic Video Games

The gameplay, design and code are all the work of Laura Nikolich, at that time one of the very few women programmers in the world of video games. Laura entered the business of video game development purely by chance: she worked, in fact, as a consultant for a finance company. One day, while attending a business meeting, her attention was captured by a “job fair” on technology, which was held simultaneously at the same conference center.

Her presence at the job fair on technology was like an alien coming from space. In fact, no one among the spotty participants expected to see a woman walking around the stands dedicated to computing … especially in the early 1980s. However, the smiles of her examiners died out quickly, when they discovered that she had a degree in computer engineering (in 1976 only one woman in three completed his studies in this field) and knew the Assembly, Fortran and Basic. That same day Laura returned home with a contract as a developer for Parker Brothers.

Laura Nikolich and her Spider-Man for Atari 2600- 80s and 90s Arcades, Retro Games and Classic Video Games

In this photo Laura Nikolich is with David Lamkins, sound designer of the game.