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The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame announced that Bejeweled, Centipede, King’s Quest, and Minecraft have been inducted into the prestigious hall that recognizes the most important releases in the history of video games.
The four inductees span multiple decades, countries of origin, and gaming platforms, but all have significantly affected the video game industry, popular culture, and society in general. These games challenge players to solve puzzles, battle giant insects, complete epic quests, and build fantastic structures. They emerged from a field of 12 finalists that also included Frogger, Goldeneye 007, Guitar Hero, NBA Jam, Nokia Snake, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
I was one of the judges who voted on the selection, and my own choices were Centipede, Guitar Hero, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. But I can’t argue with these winners.
Bejeweled was initially created as a web-based Flash game in 2001. PopCap Games’ Bejeweled popularized the “match-3” puzzle game and became one of the most iconic mobile games in history. It inspired many other mobile games using the same mechanics, and the game’s developer estimated in 2013 that it had been downloaded more than 500 million times.
Players from around the world have devoted tens of billions of hours to playing Bejeweled and the games that it inspired, said Strong Museum of Play curator Shannon Symonds, in a statement. Now, Bejeweled and its successor puzzle games seem commonplace—a regular part of all our lives.
When it debuted in 1981, Atari’s Centipede challenged players to blast an insect as it zigzagged across the screen in challenging patterns and at various speeds. Ed Logg led a team that included Dona Bailey, one of the only female programmers in the 1980s arcade video game industry, to develop a game that helped attract more female players. It was an immediate success and became synonymous with the golden age of the arcade, though it also found later life in re-releases on home consoles, portable game systems, mobile game apps, and even as a board game.
Centipede appeals to a wide demographic and is often cited as a game that helped attract more women to the arcade in the early 1980s, said Jeremy Saucier, The Strong’s assistant vice president for electronic games and interpretation, in a statement. It’s as challenging and satisfying to play today as it was decades ago, he said. I had tons of fun playing this one in the arcades.
Designed by Sierra On-Line cofounder Roberta Williams, King’s Quest (1984) introduced players to the fantastical world of Daventry. The fairy-tale setting, unique visuals, and irreverent humor helped to make the game a hit on PCs and popularized the graphic adventure genre. Sierra On-Line, led by Ken and Roberta Williams, produced seven sequels, and the game influenced dozens of adventure games that followed, establishing Roberta Williams as one of the most significant game designers of the 1980s and 1990s.
Archivist Julia Novakovic said in a statement it’s hard to overstate King’s Quest’s influence on adventure games, as it established or reinforced so many conventions of the genre.
With its endless play possibilities, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon since its introduction in 2009. Players in a worldwide, online community make their own creations using sets of pixelated blocks that they mine and use to build elaborate structures. The game offers nearly unlimited opportunities for creativity. As of 2019, it had sold more than 176 million copies across all platforms, with more copies sold for consoles than for personal computers.
The Strong’s digital games curator Andrew Borman said Minecraft’s success speaks to the maturing of video games as a cultural touchstone. No longer do game creators need to obsess about having the most realistic looking graphics. Minecraft features a retro simplicity that hearkens back to fondly remembered days of 8-bit computers, he said, and it’s a validation of the indie gaming movement.
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