For all of the game industry’s myriad “game of the year” lists and “official” awards from various bodies, as well as ephemeral “best ever” lists from various media outlets, there have been precious few organized attempts to establish a permanent, concrete gaming “canon,” comprised of titles that truly represent the medium. That’s set to change soon, as the Strong National Museum of Play (which also houses the International Center for the History of Electronic Games) has announced the first 15 finalists for induction into its new World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Those nominees are:
- Angry Birds
- The Legend of Zelda
- The Oregon Trail
- The Sims
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Space Invaders
- Super Mario Bros.
- World of Warcraft
The finalists were chosen from among thousands of public nominations by an internal advisory committee at the museum. That committee looked for games that met four criteria: “icon-status” (i.e., wide recognition), longevity (“more than a passing fad”), geographical reach, and overall influence (on games, entertainment, pop culture, etc.). A game with great influence could get into the Hall of Fame even if it didn’t meet the other three criteria, the Strong said.
Looking over the first list of nominees, it’s hard to find ones that don’t deserve Hall of Fame recognition based on those criteria. FIFA may seem an odd inclusion to an American audience, but the game’s huge success in the rest of the world meets the “geographical reach” requirement and then some. And while Minecraft and Angry Birds are arguably new enough that they haven’t been proven to stand the test of time, but their overwhelming influence is undeniable even at this point. “While [Angry Birds] is a simple game with a relatively short existence, it’s had major global impact on video game play and, in a sense, turned hundreds of millions of people into ‘gamers’ that might never have considered themselves that before,” Strong spokesperson Shane Rhinewald told Ars.
Not all 15 games will necessarily make it into the new Hall of Fame this year. A committee of about two dozen international “journalists, scholars, and other individuals familiar with the history of video games and their role in society” will vote on the final inductees, the Strong said in a statement. Committee members will be able to vote on their top five choice for final placement, though Rhinewald said he suspects “five to seven” will be chosen by the time the selections are announced June 4. Games that don’t make the cut will be eligible for renomination next year, and a minimum of 12 games will be nominated each year.
For now, though, the public can place their own votes on which game is most deserving in an online poll. The Sims is currently winning that vote by a large margin, but I’m confident Super Mario Bros. fans will correct that injustice shortly.