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The World Video Game Hall of Fame has added four classic games to its roster today: Animal Crossing, StarCraft, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
The games were inducted into The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, which is part of The Strong Museum of Play.
The finalists this year were FIFA International Soccer, Call of Duty, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Mattel Football, Animal Crossing, FarmVille, Guitar Hero, Pole Position, Portal, StarCraft, Tron, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame at The Strong recognizes individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile — that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general.
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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.
Blizzard Entertainment took the real-time strategy genre to new heights in 1998 with the debut of StarCraft. The single-player mode of the immersive, science-fiction game proved popular, but the multiplayer mode, which included a ladder ranking system, turned it into the largest esports title of its day. I had so much fun playing with my friends over relatively slow phone lines. It seemed so technologically advanced in those days. Starcraft won multiple Game of the Year Awards, and generated its own lines of novels, graphic novels, licensed toys, clothing, and gaming accessors.
The Japanese Nintendo 64 game Dōbutsu no Mori (“Animal Forest”) was enhanced and rereleased for the Nintendo GameCube in December 2001. The international version for GameCube, popularized as Animal Crossing, was distributed globally over the next few years to great acclaim.
In Animal Crossing, a player assumes the role of a human who moves to a new, randomly generated town inhabited by sentient, anthropomorphic animals. After meeting Tom Nook, the town’s shop owner and real estate broker, the player selects one of several unfurnished houses to establish their new residence. In order to repay Tom Nook (a tanuki in the Japanese version, and a raccoon elsewhere), the player will work at his shop and complete tasks for other villagers to earn Bells, the town’s currency. It was an open-ended life simulation game without objectives. The latest installment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, has sold more than 31 million copies.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
For nearly four decades, Microsoft Flight Simulator has provided millions of players endless hours of gameplay with highly realistic simulations of real-life airplanes. Its simple premise and accessible content disguises the advanced programming that has made it so successful. Since its launch in 1982, the game has been regularly updated and remains the most popular, longest lasting, and most influential flying sim of all time.
“It’s hard to overestimate what a groundbreaking program Microsoft Flight Simulator was when it debuted in 1983,” said Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for interpretation and electronic games at the Strong, in a statement. “For the first time, amateur and professional aviators could navigate the skies — without ever leaving home. And the joy of flight is universal, which is perhaps why Microsoft Flight Simulator has continued to captivate gamers for decades.”
Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?
Released by Broderbund in 1985, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? spawned one of the best-selling “edutainment” franchises, combing education and entertainment. Designed for the first generation of graphic-enabled personal computers, the title made learning world geography fun for millions of students as they searched for the whereabouts of the mysterious Carmen Sandiego. The game, which launched several sequels, also inspired a hit show on American Public Broadcasting in the 1990s and an animated series on Netflix (2019-2021), helping propel Carmen Sandiego and her world-traveling ways into the cultural zeitgeist.
I get the privilege of being able to vote for the winners alongside a group of other game people. This year, I voted for Call of Duty, StarCraft, and FarmVille. Released by Infinity Ward/Activision in 2003, Call of Duty helped popularize the cinematic, first-person war genre. It chased EA’s Medal of Honor, but it ultimately became more popular, selling more than 400 million premium copies over the past 18 years. It’s now more popular than ever, with free-to-play Call of Duty: Mobile and Call of Duty: Warzone taking the franchise to more than 600 million people combined. I’ve played every single version of the now-annual releases, and I’ve never tired of the franchise. You can’t have more iconic recognition, longevity, reach, and influence.
Except, of course, if you’re Zynga’s FarmVille. This free-to-play game from developer Zynga debuted in 2009, and it changed the video game industry and how people play online. It helped popularize the social network Facebook and it brought new people — including older women — into the game market for the first time. The simple Flash game let you plow, plant, and harvest to expand your agrarian business. In 2010, a year after launch, FarmVille boasted nearly 83 million active users per month, and it was succeeded by several sequels, including one coming this year.
Last year’s inductees were Bejeweled, Centipede, King’s Quest, and Minecraft. You can see all the past winners here.
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