In 1980 Peter Gabriel released his third self-titled album, preceded by the single "Games Without Frontiers". It marked a radical change in direction for Gabriel who prior to his first two solo albums of course were the lead singer of Genesis. Now all of a sudden he did something markedly different, not for the first and certainly not for the last time in his career, but this time it had a bigger impact than previous efforts.
The soundscape of "Games Without Frontiers" and the album it belongs to, is part of a collective sound of the time, and it's hard to tell who came up with what. Musically it's related to what both David Bowie and Talking Heads did at the time, and I don't think the Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981) would have sounded the same either if it wasn't for what all of these artists were doing. You can argue that Kate Bush's music at the time were related as well, and she actually sings backing vocals on "Games Without Frontiers". The electronics and drum machines present was state of the art at the time, and they still sound excellent.
The song's title is lifted from a European game show, Jeux Sans Frontièrs, featuring teams competing for prizes in outlandish games of skill dressed in bizarre costumes. Since the teams represented towns and cities from different countries the games had an element of nationalism that Gabriel critiques in the song.
Watch and listen