Centipede is a vertically-oriented shoot 'em up arcade game produced by Atari, Inc. in 1980. The game was designed by Ed Logg along with Dona Bailey, one of the few female game programmers in the industry at this time. It was also the first arcade coin-operated game to have a significant female player base. The player defends against swarms of insects, completing a round after eliminating the centipede that winds down the playing field.
The player is represented by a small, "somewhat humanoid head" at the bottom of the screen (Later described as being a garden gnome in the trivia section of the cell phone interpretation). The player moves the character about the bottom area of the screen with a trackball and fires laser shots at a centipede advancing from the top of the screen down through a field of mushrooms. Shooting any section of the centipede creates a mushroom; shooting one of the middle segments splits the centipede into two pieces at that point. Each piece then continues independently on its way down the board, with the first section of the rear piece becoming a new head. If the head is destroyed, the section behind it becomes the next head.
The centipede starts at the top of the screen, traveling either left or right. When it hits a mushroom or the edge of the screen, it drops one level and switches direction. Thus, more mushrooms on the screen cause the centipede to descend more rapidly. The player can destroy mushrooms by shooting them, but each takes four hits to destroy.