Why ‘GTA 3’ and More Games Are Heading to the Hall of Fame

In 2015, the Strong National Museum of Play began inducting six video games a year into its World Video Game Hall of Fame. Last year’s inductees included classics like Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., and Doom. This year a new crop of games gets its time to shine. From a list of 15 finalists, six seminal, important games were chosen. Take a look below to find out which ones made the cut in 2016, and why they’re so important.

1. Grand Theft Auto 3

The most recent game inducted this year — though older than World of Warcraft, which made it in last year — is Grand Theft Auto 3, a game that paved the way for the scores of expansive open-world games that currently dot the bestseller list year after year. This game also sparked a public discussion about violence and sex in video games, which still goes on to a lesser extent today. Finally, GTA 3 brought gravitas to voice acting in games, thanks to its cast of famous actors like Michael Rapaport, Kyle MacLachlan, and Michael Madsen. If you had a PlayStation 2 in 2001, this was the game to own, and its impact can still be seen in the gaming landscape today.

2. The Legend of Zelda

Some games are just better. When The Legend of Zelda first hit the NES in 1986, it was bigger, more ambitious, and — yes — better than just about everything else on the market. It was also the first home console game you couldn’t reasonably beat in a single sitting, so it pioneered the inclusion of a battery in the cartridge for saving data. Not only was it an epic adventure game dripping with mystery, but it would go on to spawn a series that produced classic after classic over the years to come.

3. The Sims

Believe it or not, gaming used to be a hobby only a fraction of the population engaged in. Game consoles were expensive, and they didn’t do anything other than play games, so most people never even considered buying them. When The Sims launched on PC in 2000, it struck a nerve with an incredibly large and diverse audience of people who wouldn’t be caught dead playing something like Final Fantasy VII.

Thanks to its PC roots (everyone had a computer), its welcoming graphics, its diverse cast of characters, its lack of challenge, and its easy-to-understand gameplay, The Sims took off like few games before or after, with the series selling over 200 million units to date. Now, nearly everyone plays games on their phones. In 2000, The Sims helped paved the way.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog

Super Mario Bros. was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, making way for its onetime rival, Sonic the HedgehogSonic boasts plenty of reasons to recommend it, from its fast gameplay to its tight controls and iconic characters. It also helped usher in the idea of console mascots that would continue with characters like Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation and Master Chief on Xbox.

5. The Oregon Trail

If you attended elementary school in the 1980s or ’90s, there was no way around it: You played The Oregon Trail. It was unique among video games of the time in that it could actually teach you something about the challenges facing 19th Century American settlers when heading west to achieve their manifest destiny. It’s also one of the few games that an entire generation got to experience.

6. Space Invaders

First released in 1978, Space Invaders was one of the earliest arcade games to catch on in a major way. It’s a shooter that sends columns of aliens toward your ship at the bottom of the screen as you fly left and right, firing lasers to thin their numbers. In 1980, it would become the must-have game for the Atari 2600, helping spark the video game industry that’s still alive and well today.

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