Steve russell, quoted by Steward Brand, in the legendary Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums published in Rolling Stones in 1972:
"We had this brand new PDP-l, it was the first minicomputer, ridiculously inexpensive for its time. And it was just sitting there. It had a console typewriter that worked right, which was rare, and a paper tape reader and a cathode ray tube display. Somebody had built some little pattern-generating programs which made interesting patterns like a kaleidoscope. Not a very good demonstration. Here was this display that could do all sorts of good things! So we started talking about it, figuring what would be interesting displays. We decided that probably you could make a two-Dimensional maneuvering sort of thing, and decided that naturally the obvious thing to do was spaceships. (...) I had just finished reading Doc Smith's Lensman series. He was some sort of scientist but he wrote this really dashing brand of science fiction. (...) By picking a world which people weren't familiar with, we could alter a number of parameters of the world in the interests of making a good game and of making it possible to get it onto a computer. We made a great deal of compromises from some of our original grand plans in order to make it work well"
Why do I blog this? various intriguing things here: people trying to find applications for the weird new device that sits in their research lab, the importance of talk-and-try, the influence of sci-fi in the researchers' imaginary realms and game design as random tuning. Of course, there is more to draw in the whole piece. Reminds me of some situations, please replace "PDP-l" by whatever technological stuff you have in mind, and "Doc Smith's Lensman" by any cool sci-fi from either the Zeitgeist or the shiny past we never reached and you may encounter a similar situation.