Shark Jaws

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Shark Jaws
Developer(s)Horror Games (Atari, Inc.)

Shark Jaws is a single-player arcade video game by Atari, Inc. under the name of Horror Games, originally released in 1975. An unlicensed tie-in to the movie Jaws, and believed to be the first commercially released movie tie-in, it was created to be a game about sharks eating people.[2][3] Atari head Nolan Bushnell originally tried to license the Jaws name, but was unable to secure a license from Universal Pictures. Deciding to go ahead with the game anyway, it was retitled Shark JAWS, with the word Shark in tiny print and JAWS in large all caps print to create greater prominence. Bushnell created a second hidden subsidiary corporation, Horror Games—the previous being Kee Games—to help isolate Atari from a possible lawsuit.[4] According to Bushnell, the game was successful enough to sell approximately two thousand units.[3]

The player controls a deep-sea diver trying to catch small fish while avoiding a great white shark that is trying to eat him. Points are scored by running over the fish to catch them.[5]

The unrelated 1972 electromechanical arcade game Killer Shark from Sega was briefly featured in the movie Jaws.[6]


The game is housed in a custom cabinet that includes a single joystick and start button. The cabinet bezel uses blue and green colors, and portrays sharks swimming around along with a solitary swimmer. The game PCB is composed of discrete technology, and although the game was released under the name Horror Games, the PCB clearly states Atari.[7]

In Popular Culture[edit]

Shark Jaws is featured being played in the 1978 movie Piranha by supporting lead character Maggie McKeown portrayed by Heather Menzies-Urich. The short scene takes place a little less than 7 minutes into the film.


  1. ^ Bloom, Steve (December 1982). "From Cutoffs to Pinstripes" (PDF). Video Games. Vol. 1, no. 3. Pumpkin Press. p. 41. ISSN 0733-6780.
  2. ^ (Montfort & Bogost 2009, p. 125)
  3. ^ a b Fulton, Steve (2007-11-06). "The History of Atari:1971-1977; 1975: Innovate Or Die". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  4. ^ Bogost, Ian (2007-11-13). "Film Adaptation: The First Film License". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  5. ^ "Shark JAWS Videogame by Atari (1975)". Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  6. ^ "Killer Shark - Arcade by Sega".
  7. ^ Welburn, Andy. "Andy's Arcade Bronzeage Info Resource". Andys-Arcade. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
Additional sources

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