Eugene Jarvis studied computer programming at Berkeley, where he learned FORTRAN programming on mainframes, and played Space Wars (1962) in the basement of the physics lab. After graduation he designed pinball games at Atari, moving to Williams in the late 1970s.
Jarvis’ first video game, Defender (1980) featured horizontal scrolling, the design breakthrough that enabled the game’s universe to be much larger than the screen. Defender was notoriously difficult to master but proved addictive and was a huge hit for Williams. In 1981, Jarvis established his own company, Kid Vids, and – inspired by the approach of the year 1984 – designed Robotron: 2084 (1982), the first game with dual-joystick controls, in which players battle wave after wave of robots.
Jarvis designed the Cruis’n (1994) driving games for Midway Games before setting up his Raw Thrills studio in 2001. In 2008 he became DePaul University’s first Game Designer in Residence.