‘Doom’ and 5 Games Going in the Video Game Hall of Fame

The Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., has kicked off its World Video Game Hall of Fame by inducting six titles into its hallowed halls. The games, which span across decades and platforms, are all seminal works in the history of video games and have made a cultural impact on the world at large.

“Electronic game play is increasingly influential and important,” Strong President and Chief Executive G. Rollie Adams said in a statement. “It’s changing how we play, how we learn and how we connect with each other across boundaries of geography and culture.”

The six inductees were chosen from a list of 15 finalists that included games like Angry Birds, Minecraft, and Pokémon. Those games didn’t make the cut, but let’s take a look at the games that did and discuss what makes them important to video game history and the culture in general.

1. Pong

First released in 1972, Pong is often seen as the spark that started the engine of the video game industry. It’s a very simple game by today’s standards — one that essentially recreates air hockey — but it proved that controlling pixels on a screen could be an enjoyable way to pass the time.

According to Strong:

By most measures of popular impact, Pong (1972) launched the video game industry. A simple game involving two paddles and a ball, Pong introduced millions to the joys of playing video games. Although it was not the first electronic game, and the Magnavox Odyssey home console already featured a similar tennis game, Pong was the first game to grab wide-scale public attention. Its success propelled Atari into a preeminent role in the video game industry. Decades after its launch, Pong’s iconic sound, intuitive controls, and satisfying game play still resonate, inviting people to try their hand at keeping the ball bouncing as long as possible.

2. Pac-Man

Like all of the games on this list, Pac-Man seems like it needs no introduction. You play as a yellow circular character who would love it if he could his eat dots and fruit in peace. Unfortunately, he’s assaulted by a crew of angry ghosts that chases after him, trying their best to thwart his modest dreams.

According to Strong:

Pac-Man, which debuted in 1980, pushed video games forward as a mass cultural phenomenon. The simple maze game captured the imagination of millions of people and became the best-selling arcade video game ever. At the same time, Pac-Man himself became the first iconic ambassador of the video game era — at once symbolizing video gaming and transcending it as he crossed over into mass culture. The game launched the first massive video game licensing craze, spurring the sale of home consoles, handheld devices, toys, clothing, and even housewares. Since its release, Pac-Man and its many variations and sequels have munched their way into countless arcades, homes, and new digital spaces.

3. Tetris

Tetris is an action puzzle game that has you guide a randomized series of falling shapes to create neat, ordered lines. It’s the kind of thing someone with OCD might enjoy doing, if not for the fact that the blocks fall faster the longer you play. It soon turns into a nightmare of falling chaos — but for some reason it never seems to get old.

According to Strong:

Tetris sprang from the Soviet Union in 1984 and spread to other Eastern European countries. In 1987, Tetris launched on PCs in North America and Europe. A rollicking Russian folk tune gave it an unforgettable soundtrack. And when the Japanese video game developer Nintendo packaged it with the debut of the Game Boy handheld system in 1989, it traveled to every corner of the globe, selling hundreds of millions of copies across a variety of platforms. It’s become such a cultural icon that the game has even been projected on the sides of buildings gracing the skylines of cities around the world.

4. Super Mario Bros.

Without the success — and sheer brilliance — of Super Mario Bros. there’s a chance the video game industry would have died with Atari. But thanks to the creativity and unfettered joy baked into this running-and-jumping adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom, video games live on.

According to Strong:

Created by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros. jumped onto the scene in 1985, quickly becoming one of the most recognizable games ever. Mario first appeared as Jumpman in the arcade game Donkey Kong but gained icon status through Super Mario Bros. Mario’s infectious, upbeat personality helped reinvigorate the struggling video game market. Since his introduction, the character of Mario has appeared in more than 200 games and on every Nintendo console ever created. Mario himself not only became the face of Nintendo, but also the face of the video game industry as a whole.

5. Doom

The violence in video games prior to Doom wasn’t really an issue. Sure, you could jump on enemies or shoot them, but it rarely felt transgressive. Doom changed that. Filled with dark levels crawling with demonic creations, this first-person shooter was fast and furious enough to get any player’s blood pumping.

According to Strong:

Doom exploded onto the video game landscape in 1993 and helped shape the course of gaming history by introducing the idea of a game “engine” (separating the game’s basic functions from other aspects, such as artwork), encouraging multiplayer interaction, and popularizing the first-person shooter genre. DOOM was a commercial success, but its most important legacy is the impact that it has had on the form, function, feel, and perception of so many games that followed, such as Half-Life and Halo. Doom also became a highly visible symbol of the widespread debate over the role of games and violence in society that emerged in the 1990s.

6. World of Warcraft

The most recent game on this list, World of Warcraft could easily be seen as the natural progression of MMOs like Ultima Online or Everquest, but that does it a disservice. With WoW, developer Blizzard created a colorful world that’s populated with characters controlled by real people, and plenty of things to do in it. The fact that it’s still around over 10 years after it launched is a testament to the game’s continual brilliance.

According to Strong:

By bringing tens of millions of people together in a compelling virtual universe, World of Warcraft continues to reshape the way people think about their online lives and communities. In this “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (MMORPG), players create unique virtual avatars to represent themselves as they explore an open, constantly evolving world. After its release by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004, World of Warcraft became the largest and best-selling MMORPG ever created. As of February 2015, the game boasted more than 10 million subscribers — only slightly reduced from its peak of 12 million in October 2010 — with 100 million accounts created since the game’s release.

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