The Strong National Museum of Play has selected its first-ever list of the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The winners — chosen on the basis of iconic status, longevity, geographic reach, and influence — are Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Doom, and World of Warcraft.
Each of these games needs almost no introduction, and they go back to beginning of the industry. The Strong is announcing the winners at an event at its museum today in Rochester, N.Y. I couldn’t join the ceremony, but I had the honor of being one of 21 game journalists and other experts who served on the selection committee for picking the top games.
We can now proceed to argue about whether our favorite games made it into this first batch of inductees. But it’s a clear sign that video games have not only become a major business but also now have a lot of impact on mass culture, our collective memory, and society.
Inductees are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
- Icon-status: The game is widely recognized and remembered.
- Longevity: The game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time.
- Geographical reach: The game meets the above criteria across international boundaries.
- Influence: The game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general. A game may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.
Here were my own votes and the descriptions I submitted for each one.
- Pong (1972): In the beginning, we had Pong. And it was good. All hail the game that put games on the global map of pop culture, entertainment, and big business.
- Pac-Man (1980): No game has created a more iconic, recognizable, and simple character as Pac-Man. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any player who doesn’t recognize this world-renowned and fun masterpiece.
- Pokémon Red/Green/Blue (1996): Pokémon set in motion the urge to collect them all and inspired a whole generation of digital collectibles. But it still remains the master of the genre.
- Doom (1993): This game really broke open the first-person shooter genre that started with Wolfenstein. It started the 3D graphics arms race and set in motion the software and hardware improvements that deliver such beautiful graphics today.
- Tetris (1984): It taught us that simple shapes and sizes could be turned into fun. It was a ubiquitous puzzle game that hasn’t been matched since.
- The Sims (2000): This simulation of real life generated so many sales that it is hard to keep track of it all. It gave us a digital dollhouse, icons above our heads, and Simlish, the language of the Sims.
- The Legend of Zelda (1986): It’s hard to imagine another game that created a fan base that stayed loyal for generations.
What are your own picks for the Hall of Fame? Here’s a poll with a selection of games to choose from below. You can vote for five.