Embarrassingly, I nearly missed the news that Counter-Strike has turned 25. Twenty-five!!!

It’s fair to say I didn’t expect CS to be as big as it has become. I didn’t actually start playing until beta 2; the first one crashed every time my character took damage from anything (most memorably from the fire in cs_desert) so I’d mentally written it off and may not have ordinarily tried it again.

Thankfully, the second beta generated enough hype to have me press that download button one more time - and it soon became clear that Gooseman and cliffe had landed on something very special.

It was janky. It was rough. It was littered with out-of-place Half-Life lore. It used other assets it probably shouldn’t have been using. The buy menu had a terrible UX unless you could keep gun/ammo compatibility tables in your head. Every round started with a crazy rush to pick up weapons dropped in the previous round - often from your own corpse. The scientist hostages were mad, and could fly. There were plentiful bugs and exploits.

The product was terrible, but the game was solid. The rough edges were actually charming. The community was young and welcoming. It was fresh. It was fun.

Importantly, it kept evolving and improving every few weeks. Issues were fixed quickly. Improvements and features were added frequently. There was an incredible velocity of evolution happening before our eyes, at just the right time for just the right audience.

CS has had multiple rebirths, kick-started careers (including my own) and spawned entire industries. It’s a behemoth that I don’t think any of us would have predicted. But good grief is it incredible to have played a small part in its early success.

So Happy Birthday and thank you Counter-Strike. See you for your 50th?