- In 2015, the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, opened the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
- The Hall of Fame inductees are chosen for their long-lasting popularity, international appeal, and overall influence on pop culture.
- Every game inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame is hosted in The Strong Museum’s interactive arcade exhibit, eGameRevolution.
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While video games have become a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide, gaming is still a relatively young art form – and understanding the history and legacy of the world’s most iconic games has become increasingly important as video games shape more of our pop culture.
Based in Rochester, New York, the Strong National Museum of Play established the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2015 to help do that. The museum has now inducted a total of 24 titles.
Nominees are judged based on their long-lasting popularity, international appeal, and overall cultural influence. Games that join the Hall of Fame are also added to the Strong Museum’s interactive arcade exhibit, eGameRevolution. Each inductee is given a full Hall of Fame profile and comments from their creators can be found on Strong’s website.
Here’s every game in the World Video Game Hall of Fame, in the order they were inducted:
“DOOM” (1993) — inducted in 2015
- id Software/Bethesda Softworks
“DOOM” helped popularize first-person shooting genre with 3-D graphics and intricate level design. The game’s irreverent style and gruesome monsters helped it gain a cult following, especially since the creators at id Software gave fans the tools to make their own custom versions of “DOOM.”
The 2016 reboot of “DOOM” was a smash hit, and its sequel, “DOOM Eternal,” is due out in fall 2019.
“Pac-Man” (1980) — inducted in 2015
Namco’s “Pac-Man” became synonymous with the booming popularity of arcades in the 1980s, turning the titular character into one of the earliest video game mascots.
“Pac-Man Fever,” a song inspired by the game, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1982, and the character has spawned dozens of sequels and multiple TV shows through the years.
“Pong” (1972) — inducted in 2015
- Wikimedia Commons
This digital version of table tennis was one of the first video games to spark a cultural phenomenon, inspiring thousands of families to adopt home video game consoles just to play “Pong.”
“Super Mario Bros.” (1985) — inducted in 2015
Nintendo’s “Super Mario Bros.” is one of the most celebrated video games of all time, and established Mario as the most recognizable video game character in the world.
The tight controls, vivid stages, and memorable music still hold up today, and dedicated players are still working to master the classic game. Since its debut in 1985, the “Super Mario” franchise has sold more than 330 million games worldwide.
“Tetris” (1984) — inducted in 2015
“Tetris” is an addictive puzzle game developed by Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. While “Tetris” had seen success with computer and arcade releases, it took years to produce a properly licensed home version.
Nintendo included the Russian puzzle game with every Game Boy at launch, which helped it skyrocket in popularity. The fast, addictive gameplay and portability of the Game Boy version made the game a massive hit, and the partnership at launch helped “Tetris” become one of the best-selling games of all-time.
“World of Warcraft” (2004) — inducted in 2015
As a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, “World of Warcraft” brought tens of millions of players into a shared realm of fantasy where they could build long-lasting relationships with other people.
“World of Warcraft” allows players to customize their avatars and shape their own experience with the game, which helps them build a personal connection with their character. The game has been active for nearly 15 years and still has millions of players logging in each month.
“Grand Theft Auto III” (2001) — inducted in 2016
- Rockstar Games
“Grand Theft Auto III” gave players the freedom to move around a massive city as a low-level gangster with nearly no restraints. The game became infamous for letting players steal cars at will, commit violent crimes against civilians, and hire prostitutes to recover health.
The game’s open-world design inspired an entire genre of games that remain popular today, and the latest game in the series, “Grand Theft Auto V,” is one of the best-selling games of all-time, with more than 100 million copies sold.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” (1991) — inducted in 2016
“Sonic the Hedgehog” helped set the tone for gaming in the 90s, debuting as the flagship title of the Sega Genesis and establishing Sonic as Sega’s mascot.
Sonic’s hip design resonated with players and led to skyrocketing popularity: In 1993, Sonic became the first video game character with a balloon in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While “Sonic” games have seen an overall dip in popularity, the iconic character has starred in multiple animated series, and a “Sonic the Hedgehog” film will be released in November 2019.
The original “Sonic the Hedgehog” remains the best-selling Genesis game of all-time with more than 15 million copies sold.
“Space Invaders” (1978) — inducted in 2016
“Space Invaders” was ubiquitous in arcades during the 1980s, but it also helped push the boundaries of video game technology at the time.
The arcade version of the game was the first Japanese game to use a microprocessor, and the home version became the best-selling game on the newly released Atari 2600.
“The Legend of Zelda” (1986) — inducted in 2016
- World of Longplays/YouTube
“The Legend of Zelda” is one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, having inspired generations with its spirit of adventure.
The original “Legend of Zelda” games let players explore the large fantasy world of Hyrule, combating monsters and solving puzzles along the way. Players could complete the game’s eight dungeons in whatever order they chose.
“The Legend of Zelda” franchise has sold more than 88 million copies worldwide, making it Nintendo’s third-most popular franchise behind “Super Mario” and “Pokémon.”
“The Oregon Trail” (1971) — inducted in 2016
- Screenshot via the Internet Archive
The best educational games often make you forget that they’re designed to teach, and “The Oregon Trail” accomplishes exactly that.
Developed by a group of Minnesota school teachers, “The Oregon Trail” is designed to teach players about the experiences of the American pioneers who settled in Oregon.
With a heavy emphasis on resource management and a fun hunting minigame, “The Oregon Trail” created an interactive experience that encouraged educators to experiment with technology in the classroom.
“The Sims” (2000) — inducted in 2016
- Screenshot / EA
“The Sims” lets players create and manage a household of digital people, guiding them through life with nearly endless possibilities. Some choose to lord over their Sims and as a vengeful or benevolent god, causing disasters and completely reshaping their Sims’ lives, Others choose to live vicariously through their Sim and micromanage every aspect of their life.
Regardless, the unique personalities of each Sim and the open-ended nature of the game encouraged players to sculpt their own experience, and the relatable life simulator found a massive audience with people who didn’t play traditional video games.
“Donkey Kong” (1981) — inducted in 2017
“Donkey Kong” was an arcade smash hit that helped Nintendo secure its long-lasting legacy at the top of the video game industry, and introduced two of gaming’s most iconic characters: Mario and Donkey Kong.
The platforming game is simple but addictive, inspiring a community of players dedicated to competing for the high score.
This phenomenon is captured in the 2006 film “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”:
While Donkey Kong was a villain in his first appearance, he eventually became the hero of his own series, selling more than 61 million games worldwide.
“Halo: Combat Evolved” (2001) — inducted in 2017
“Halo: Combat Evolved” is a seminal first-person shooter that helped Microsoft’s newly launched Xbox make its way into millions of homes around the world.
Halo is considered one of the best multiplayer games ever released on consoles, despite being launched before the introduction of Microsoft’s Xbox Live online service.
The game’s detailed storyline inspired an extended universe of stories, including a well-received book series, comic books, and short films. Microsoft would eventually name its virtual assistant after Halo’s in-game AI character, Cortana.
“Pokémon Red and Green” (1996) — inducted in 2017
- Pokemon Yellow
“Pokémon: Red and Green” launched the never-ending cultural phenomenon that is Pokémon around the world.
Each of the original 151 Pokémon from the first two games have become iconic, thanks to a massively successful animated series, trading cards, catchy songs, and impressive character design.
The series never seems to dwindle in popularity, even as the franchise surpassed 800 total Pokémon. The live-action film “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” brought in nearly $60 million during its opening weekend.
“Street Fighter II” (1991) — inducted in 2017
For many, “Street Fighter II” is the definitive fighting game. The game took arcades by storm in 1991 with a colorful cast of characters and an unprecedented control scheme. The head-to-head nature of “Street Fighter II” sparked a competitive fervor that few games could match, and inspired a host of copycat titles.
Capcom sold more than 200,000 arcade cabinets for “Street Fighter II.” At its peak, the game could be found in laundromats, pizza parlors, and corner stores across the country.
“Street Fighter” was popular enough to inspire an animated TV show and feature film during the 90s, and remains a popular title for competitive gamers today.
“Final Fantasy VII” (1997) — inducted in 2018
- Square Enix
“Final Fantasy VII” is a genre-defining role-playing game, and one of the most celebrated PlayStation games of all-time. The game boasted state-of-the-art 3D graphics and a detailed storyline that spanned three discs and more than 50 hours of gameplay.
Over the last two decades, the game has continued to spawn movies, books, and spin-offs starring the game’s iconic characters. Square Enix is currently working on a remake of “Final Fantasy VII” with completely overhauled graphics and gameplay.
“John Madden Football” (1988) — inducted in 2018
- Electronic Arts
“John Madden Football” revolutionized sports games with its use of dynamic camera angles, player skill ratings, and a broadcast-style presentation. As Electronic Arts continued to develop the series, the game became such an exciting representation of the sport that it eventually changed the way TV channels used cameras during their own broadcasts.
Years after the NFL Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster retired from public life, the name Madden has become synonymous with video game football and sports games in general. Madden sold more copies than any other video game franchise in between 2001 and 2005, the peak of the series’ popularity.
“Spacewar!” (1962) — inducted in 2018
“Spacewar!” is one of the earliest video games ever developed, created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Steve Russell. Using the school’s newly purchased minicomputer, Russell set out to create a game that simulated a dogfight between two planes in space. Players fire missiles at one another while constantly circling a star with its own gravitational pull.
Though simple in design, the creative project became a popular pasttime among computer scientists across the country and showed the potential for interactive entertainment using computers.
“Tomb Raider” (1996) — inducted in 2018
- Tomb Raider/Eidos Interactive
The success of the original “Tomb Raider” in 1996 can be credited to the fact that it really showed off the power of the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn consoles, which were released worldwide just a year earlier.
Lara Croft and her environment were rendered in full 3D with an orchestrated score, helping create an atmosphere way beyond what was possible with earlier technology.
“Colossal Cave Adventure” (1976) — inducted in 2019
- Colossal Cave Adventure/William Crowther
“Colossal Cave Adventure” would barely be considered a video game by most people’s standards, but it helped inspire an entirely new genre of entertainment: “Colossal Cave Adventure” doesn’t have any graphics – instead, it tells players an ongoing story while they use text commands to choose their path.
Though basic, the game’s structure helped future game developers figure out how to build interactive experiences that fuel the imagination.
“Microsoft Solitaire” (1990) — inducted in 2019
“Microsoft’s Solitaire” was mostly an afterthought when it was added to the company’s influential Windows operating systems, but millions of people were introduced to the card game as a result of Microsoft’s dominance in the personal computer market.
While solitaire existed long before video games, its presence in Windows made it readily accessible to anyone with a PC. Microsoft’s Solitaire has a lasting legacy, if only because tens of millions of people ended up playing the game and sharing the experience.
Microsoft celebrated the 25th anniversary of solitaire with a special “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” released in 2015.
“Mortal Kombat” (1992) — inducted in 2019
“Mortal Kombat” was a fighting game released for arcades in 1992. The game used motion-capture actors to animate all sorts of gratuitous violence, earning an infamous reputation, thanks in part to its deadly finishing moves called fatalities.
While the violence of “Mortal Kombat” was enough to inspire Congressional hearings about video game content ratings, the series also spawned feature films and more than a dozen sequels and spin-offs.
“Mortal Kombat 11” was released in April 2019 and features the same graphic violence the series is known for.
“Super Mario Kart” (1992) — inducted in 2019
While Nintendo is best known for franchises like “Super Mario Bros.,” “Pokémon,” and “The Legend of Zelda,” “Mario Kart” is actually the company’s best-selling franchise.
The game offers a wonderful balance between casual and competitive racing, with each race offering a few minutes of frantic fun for multiple players.
“Super Mario Kart” was the first game in the series and one of the earliest racing games to let two players play at once by splitting the screen. The game used a special graphics style that made the two-dimensional sprites seem as though they were driving in 3D; the effect was considered ground-breaking at the time.