BattleTech began as a tabletop wargame, owned by FASA Corporation (but currently owned by WizKids). Beginning in 1984, BattleTech is most famous for the fielding and combat of battlemechs or colloquially known as 'mechs. These 'mechs are practically western equivalents of japanese mecha, although the 'mechs are more robotic, slow and ponderous, and function more like giant walking tanks. Since the launch of BattleTech, FASA spawned different series of tabletop wargaming concerning the BattleTech universe, such as CityTech (infantry combat), AeroTech (air combat), BattleSpace (spaceship battles) and MechWarrior (Tabletop RPG , where the players are represented by a character, much like a typical RPG). This page focuses on the specifications, explanations and technology found in the 'mechs frequented in the BattleTech universe.
In 1996, FASA released the BattleTech Collectible Card Game, developed by the creators of the popular Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast. In 2001, with WiKids purchasing the BattleTech franchise, created a new line of tabletop miniatures and a new battle system, named MechWarrior: Dark Age in 2002 (later renamed MechWarrior: Age of Destruction).
The first 'Mech video game was released in 1989, entitled MechWarrior and published by Activision, for the PC. The game gave users the opportunity to pilot a range of 'Mechs and engage in combat against computer-controlled opponents. Sequels MechWarrior 2 (1995), MechWarrior 3 (1999) and MechWarrior 4 (2000) created progressively finer and more engaging simulations. The MicroProse titles MechCommander (1998) and MechCommander 2 (2001) also recreate 'Mech-based warfare, but with a greater focus on controlling groups of units. Two titles have also been published for the Xbox (MechAssault in 2002 and MechAssault: Lone Wolf in 2004) and one for the Nintendo DS (MechAssault: Phantom War in 2006).
There have also been cockpit simulator centers, where rather than using a keyboard, players sit in a cockpit, with accompanying control sticks and throttles to control their virtual 'Mech. The first BattleTech Center opened in 1990 (in Chicago), with 16 player linked gaming. Originally owned by Virtual World Entertainment LLC, other BattleTech Centers opened in Yokohama in August 1992 and Tokyo in 1993. Eventually 26 such centers were built and included other game types and more elaborate operations. However, with the high cost of running and cheaper arcade experiences entering the market, the BattleTech centers eventually shut down, with the last Japanese center closing in 2000.