In Memoriam: A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, Actor and Geek Icon

In Memoriam: A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, Actor and Geek Icon

Leonard Nimoy was only tangentially associated with games, but he was nevertheless influential in his own way. We remember his contributions to the medium we love.

Leonard Nimoy's passing is significant for the geek community, no matter what your persuasion. For many of those in tech, he is a reverential figure—an icon for outsiders. Many gaming and tech professionals are also fans of Star Trek, a show that made it cool to be invested in science and technology, with Spock as its most important figure.

Here at USgamer, we try not to stray too far into the realm of geek pop culture, which is too often used as a source of easy traffic for publications nominally devoted to gaming. Throughout his long career, Nimoy was only tangentially associated with games, mainly lending his voice as a narrator in Star Trek Online, Civilization IV, and Seaman (and as everyone knows, Nimoy was the best narrator). But that's not say that he wasn't influential in his own way.

In one way or another, Star Trek has been entwined with gaming almost from its inception. The history of Star Trek games stretches all the way back to 1971, when a developer named Mike Mayfield wrote a game based on the series for BASIC. Since then, there have been dozens of Star Trek games ranging from 1987's Star Trek: The Promethean Prophecy to the aforementioned Star Trek Online, many of which have featured the character of Spock.

Nimoy himself played a significant role in Interplay's Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (1991) and Star Trek: Judgment Rites (1993), two adventure games that are still well-regarded today. Both played out as a kind of Star Trek mini-series, challenging players to think their way out of situations rather than resorting to violence (something that Nimoy always liked about Star Trek). I owned both of those games growing up, and I still remember Nimoy's resonant timbre crackling on my 386 PC, which was too slow to handle real voices.

Oddly enough, Nimoy's biggest video game role may not have been in Star Trek but rather in Kingdom Hearts, where he played Master Xehanort—a bald Keyblade Master with pointed ears (of course) who served as the primary antagonist in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdon Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. It's admittedly strange to hear the voice so often associated with cool logic uttering the words, "The X-blade needs to be forged, and with it, the door to the Keyblade War unlocked!" But then, Nimoy was never afraid of playing against type. He was a consummate actor who loved losing himself in a character, and he delighted in opportunities to break out and show his range, which he did in Kingdom Hearts.

Rightly or not, though, Nimoy will always be remembered for his contributions as Spock. And though he himself did not have a large impact on the medium, his character arguably did, inspiring many fans to try and tell their own Star Trek stories through video games. Nimoy himself may not have contributed to every Star Trek game, but his likeness can be found on platforms as diverse as the Apple II and the NES.

The character Spock remains a kind of patron saint of science and technology, which includes gaming. His death is being felt all over the industry today. I can say that he was a personal hero of mine, and that while he didn't exactly inspire me to get into video games, his character was a comfort to a girl who has always been made to feel like an outsider for her interests. He will be missed.

Live long and prosper.

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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