Last week, The Strong (the National Museum of Play), located in Rochester, New York, announced its newest inductees into World Video Game Hall of Fame®. The museum created this most hallowed of halls, so to speak, in order to acknowledge “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.”1 Since this hall of fame’s establishment in 2015, The Strong has inducted the likes of DOOM, Space Invaders, Tomb Raider, The Legend of Zelda, and over a dozen other beloved and influential titles. Let’s take a look at who will join the ranks this year!
Super Mario Kart
Video by YouTube user World of Longplays
When it comes to racing games worthy of our esteem, it’s hard to argue with Super Mario Kart. Granted, there are plenty of racing games that predate its original 1992 release. But how many of those can you name that shot off into the stratosphere of popularity with players, and as a spin-off of an even more popular series of games, nonetheless? Heck, there’s an entire generation of players out there to which the phrase “blue shell” means real business! Super Mario Kart has soared far beyond the boundaries of being a “Mario game;” it is its own monster that shows no signs of slowing down.
Colossal Cave Adventure
Video by YouTube user zxspectrumgames4
Like many graying gamers, when I think of “early text-based adventure games,” Zork is more likely to come to mind over this one. But it’s thanks to Colossal Cave Adventure that Zork even managed to exist. First formulated by a programmer names Will Crowther in the mid-1970s, and expanded by a Stanford Student named Don Woods, Colossal Cave Adventure laid the foundation for an entire genre of games that allowed players to “go west” and “open door” in fantastical, imaginary worlds.
Video by YouTube user Solitaire Love
If you were to tell me that you’ve never played any electronic version of Solitaire, I’d call you a liar. #sorrynotsorry Because seriously, with the ubiquity of Solitaire on PCs and phones, even to this day, there’s just no way to ignore it. And truly, is there no greater pleasure in life than watching the memorizing shuffling of one’s fully completed deck after winning a game of electronic Solitaire? Alright, I digress. Microsoft was no dummy when it released its first version of Solitaire free with Windows 3.0 in 1990, and I know I spent a fair share of my PC time perfecting my card-laying skills. Indeed, the world has seen countless versions of the game since, but there’s still nothing quite as iconic, or as green, as the original.
Video by YouTube user arcadegamesfreak
While Mortal Kombat might not have been the fighting game that started it all, it definitely started something. And video game players still deal with the repercussions of that “something” today. That “something” could be, most notably, video games and violence. Or it could be video games and realism. Or it could be video games as meaningful experiences. Whatever it is for you personally, Mortal Kombat prompted real talk about games…real talk about games that weren’t Mario- or Donkey Kong-based in the mainstream public. (At least, that’s how I recalled gaming-based local news stories back then.) Mortal Kombat helped get people talking about video games and acknowledging their existence—for better and worse—well beyond the realm of “kid’s stuff.”
You can check out The Strong’s full press release for its 2019 VGHoF inductees here, along with those from previous years. And hey, don’t like this year’s (or any year’s) crop? You can nominate any game you like. Maybe your choice will make it in 2020!
Lede Image Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York