(written June 16, 2015)
Back in February, The Strong Museum of Play announced that it was establishing a World Video Game Hall of Fame. They announced that they would accept nominations through the 31st of March. In late April, the Strong announced the fifteen finalists to be voted on for induction into the inaugural class of the Video Game Hall of Fame.
These fifteen titles were
The Legend of Zelda
The Oregon Trail
Sonic the Hedgehog
Super Mario Bros.
World of Warcraft
And today the five inaugural class inductees were announced.
The granddaddy of them all. Pong essentially launched the home video game industry. By today’s standard Pong is a very simplistic game, but it was this simplicity that helped make this game so addictive and popular. It’s simplicity of two paddles and a ball allows anyone to be able to play and compete against anyone.
2. Pac-Man (Puck-Man)
The King of Video games, the Cultural Phenomenon Pac-Man, and the number one selling video game of all time. Released in 1980 no one could have guessed the role that a yellow disc being chased through a maze by four ghosts would play in society. Not only would it spawn many other games based on the game’s characters, including the massively popular Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man would become the first video game character to become a cultural icon. Pac-Man also spawned multiple television series and even a song, “Pac-Man Fever,” that would climb to the 9th spot on the Billboard Hot 100. And most recently Pac-Man takes a highly visible role in the upcoming film Pixels.
In 1984, Alexey Pajitnov created what would become the most powerful thing to come out of the Soviet Union since the Red Army Team, Tetris. Tetris took over the world based on a seemingly simple premise: make complete rows out of seven shapes consisting of four blocks while trying to keep your playing field from filling to the top. Originally starting on computers, it spread from the Soviet Union to Eastern Bloc countries and then arrived in North America and Europe in 1987. But Tetris‘ world conquering didn’t truly begin until 1989 when it was bundled in the debut release of the Game Boy. Tetris can now be found nearly anywhere, whether in the form of an arcade game, on a game console, personal computer, a hand held device or even on a mobile phone.
4. Super Mario Bros.
The Video Game Hall of Fame has insured that they will never have plumbing problems as they have inducted a pair of plumbing brothers. Mario, who had first appeared as Jumpman in the classic arcade game Donkey Kong, in 1985 established himself with his own game, called Super Mario Brothers, and became the titular character. Super Mario Brothers would ship with the Nintendo Entertainment System and has gone on to be the most popular video game franchise of all-time. No one could have guessed that a game about an Italian plumber and his brother traversing the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach would be the start of the most well recognized game ever.
The Re-Inventor. Doom, upon its release in 1993, re-invented and popularized the first person shooter genre. The development team at id Soft wear were able to pioneer new key aspects of game design and distribution that have changed industry standards. By separating the game engine from the portion of game that operates the artwork and the rest of the game’s basic functions, the creators were able to find a way to allow greater flexibility when it came to modifying the game, a model that has been used by game developers ever since. Doom also initiated our current model of digital downloads by giving away the first portion free and then charging for future downloads. While people have been playing violent games for forever, Doom‘s ultra-violent game play took violence in video games to a new level that triggered protests from politicians.
6. World of Warcraft
The reigning Lord of the MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), Warcraft, has survived eleven years since its launch in 2004. It has become the most popular MMORPG while surviving eleven years in a part of the video game industry that sees games rocket up in popularity just to crash and burn in a short time. This demonstrates that WOW is definitely doing something right to keep its players happy. With this level of success it is easy to see how Warcraft could be selected as the Hall of Fame representative from the MMORPG realm of video games.