The first inductees into the new World Video Game Hall of Fame include Pong, the game that introduced millions to electronic play, Doom, which triggered a debate over the role of games and violence in real life, and Super Mario Bros., whose hero can now be found on everything from fruit snacks to sneakers.
The first six games to enter the hall of fame cross decades and platforms, but all have made their mark on the video game industry, popular culture and society in general, according to the new hall at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, where the games were inducted Thursday.
Joining Pong, launched in 1972, Doom, from 1993, and 1985’s Super Mario Bros. are arcade draw Pac-Man (1980), Russian import Tetris (1984) and World of Warcraft (2004), which has swallowed millions of players into its online virtual universe.
The newly created World Video Game Hall of Fame celebrates an industry that has become as big as Hollywood in the entertainment business. The Strong, which calls itself as the national museum of play and also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, has been preserving and collecting games and artifacts for years.
The first hall of fame class was recommended by a panel of journalists, scholars and other video game experts. They chose from among 15 finalists that also included: Angry Birds, FIFA, The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft and Pokemon.
Nominations for the hall can come from anyone and be from any platform — arcade, console, computer, handheld or mobile. But they must have had a long stretch of popularity and left a mark on the video game industry.
“Doom,” for example, introduced the idea of a game “engine” that separated the game’s basic functions from its artwork and other aspects, but even more significantly was one of the early games cited in the debate that continues today over whether violent games inspire real-life aggression.
“World of Warcraft” is the largest “massively multi-player online role-playing game” (MMORPG) ever created and as of February, had more than 10 million subscribers, represented by avatars they create, according to The Strong.
More than 150 million Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and 42 percent play for at least three hours a week.
Nominations for the hall of fame’s class of 2016 are open through the end of March.