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The term was first applied to games in H.G. Wells's 1913 Little Wars, where the author develops a "melee rule" in his war game. It was later popularized by Dungeons & Dragons, which featured a "melee phase" to represent the fighting of characters outside of bows and magic.
This term still applies to most role-playing games, but is often used in the context of first-person shooter video games to specify a non-ranged attack. This began with the 1992 game Wolfenstein 3D, which featured a knife that could be selected from the inventory, just like a gun. Because of the risk involved in using a melee weapon, they were typically the most powerful weapons available, in terms of damage. Later, Duke Nukem 3D would include a button that allowed the character to kick enemies while still wielding a gun. A Nintendo franchise called Super Smash Bros. had its second game released in 2001 for the GameCube and used the term "melee" in the title.
In strategy games, especially real-time strategy, infantry units that do not use ranged weapons are often called melee units.
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