The 2018 class of games for the World Video Game Hall of Fame includes a renowned sportscaster and a globe-trotting archaeologist. This is the fourth year that The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, has recognized pioneering achievements in video games, and four new games will join the ranks of classics like Pac-Man and Tetris to be enshrined.
In a press release, the museum announced that John Madden Football, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, and Spacewar! have been selected from a field of 12 finalists. The awards are determined via a Player’s Choice ballot and an advisory board comprised of scholars, journalists, and video game historians.
Games accepted into the hall must be iconic, must have stood the test of time, and must have worldwide appeal. Games that have transcended the genre and contributed significantly to pop culture or society in general may also be recognized.
John Madden Football from 1990 has influenced not just sports games, but sports in general. The unveiling of the cover athlete — and the ongoing debate over the “Madden Curse” — has become a yearly event. Its influence has even reached into broadcasting, with the “Madden-cam” a popular addition to NFL broadcasts over the past few years.
In 1996, Tomb Raider defined a new style of gameplay that combined a revolutionary 3D viewpoint with cinematic action and puzzle solving. The museum notes that Guinness cites Lara Croft as the most recognized female video game hero of all time. “The character is not without controversy for her early status as a sex symbol, but she’s evolved with the franchise to become the epitome of a strong female hero,” said curator Shannon Symonds.
Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997 and became the second-most popular game for PlayStation with more than 10 million copies sold. Many credit FF7 with pushing role-playing games (RPGs) beyond cult status and into mainstream popularity. Of course, it also introduced the world to Sephiroth.
You may not have heard of Spacewar!, but it certainly deserves to be recognized. Created in 1962 on a PDP-1 minicomputer by members of the MIT Model Railroad Club, it featured two starships in a top-down view firing torpedoes at each other as they orbit around a central star. The game “went viral” and was spread from computer to computer around the world. Computer Space, the first mass-market video game from Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, was based on Spacewar!
Nominated games that didn’t make the cut this time around include Asteroids, Half-Life, and Metroid. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 class, and you can include your suggestion here.