How Duke Nukem Helped to Shape Modern Gaming

Thousands of video games get released each year, with the rate of new releases increasing drastically in the last few years. For example, in 2014 1,771 titles were made available to gamers on the Steam platform, while in 2017 this figure had increased to 7,049.

With the sheer volume of new games hitting the market being so big, it is no wonder that few ever get to claim a spot in the history books as a favourite among fans. In modern gaming, titles like Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite, PUBG and Forza are some of these fan favourites.

In the mid-1990s, different names were at the top of the list of games that fans loved. These included Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Duke Nukem.

Pioneering a New Dimension

What all of these games had in common was their new 3D environments, allowing gamers to explore larger worlds in a more interactive way. Duke Nukem had two 2D games, but the third instalment Duke Nukem 3D was when it came into its own. The game scored a 89% review for its PC version, and was later re-released on current generation consoles including the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One thanks to its popularity.

This early 3D gaming was slightly different to what we know now. The play navigated a 3D maze, shooting, breaking, and interacting with 2D sprites. While this seems primitive now, it was groundbreaking at the time.

A More Realistic Environment

While Doom was the first game to offer a first-person window into a 3D world, Duke Nukem made it more realistic by setting things in real life environments. These polygon graphics are now used everywhere in the gaming industry, so they’re no longer a selling point in games. Where as the games of the early 90s put “3D” in their title to help sell copies, the modern gaming industry relies on depth of online play and promotions like free bets or extra content to attract players.


Where Duke Nukem also stood out was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. While other FPS games of the time were all based around themes of shooting aliens or enemy soldiers with a serious, straight to the point theme, Duke Nukem added an element of humour.

Attention to detail is how game designers show they have really thought about their game, and Duke Nukem really did have lots of small details. The first 3D game featured light switches that you could flick on and off, and the games protagonist would even relieve himself when he approached a toilet.


In modern gaming, Grand Theft Auto is famous for its to detail with Grand Theft Auto V featuring a working stock market and economy that fluctuates depending on the actions of the player. Features like this would not have been possible without the development of games like Duke Nukem 3D and its intricate attention to detail.