Indiana University graduate student Sam Shahrani presents a detailed history of the evolution of level design and in-game interactivity from the inception of 3D engines to the near present, in part one of this exclusive two-part Gamasutra educational feature.
The following extract from the Gamasutra Education
section of the site, taken from the article's introduction, sets the tone for what is to follow:
"Designing game spaces is not a new phenomenon. Children do it on a daily basis, constructing complicated games governed by rule sets that can change at the drop of a hat. The design of computer game spaces, on the other hand, has existed for only about 30 years and in that narrow timeframe has evolved dramatically.
The level design in most early titles was part and parcel of the game design itself; often the programmer was the person designing the gameplay, as was the case with many titles by Atari Corporation. One person could, much like an auteur, create an entire game alone, but as time went on and games grew more complex the division of labor required led to the creation of a new position; that of the "level designer.""
You can now read the first part of this full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including bundles of historical insight (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).