‘Pong,’ ‘Tetris’ make Video Game Hall of Fame’s first class


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 so­ci­ety, and “Su­per Mario Bros.,” whose mus­ta­chioed hero has mi­grated to ev­ery­thing from fruit snacks to sneak­ers.

The first six games to en­ter the hall of fame cross decades and plat­forms, but all have im­pacted the video game in­dus­try, popular cul­ture and so­ci­ety at large, ac­cord­ing to the new hall at The Strong mu­seum in Rochester, where the games were en­shrined 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 pays homage to an in­dus­try that ri­vals Hol­ly­wood in the en­ter­tain­ment peck­ing or­der. The Strong, which bills 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 through its In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter for the His­tory of Elec­tronic Games.

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

The in­au­gu­ral hall of fame class was rec­om­mended by a panel of judges made up of jour­nal­ists, schol­ars and other ex­perts on the his­tory and im­pact of video games. They chose from among 15 fi­nal­ists that also in­cluded: “An­gry Birds,” “FIFA,” “The Leg­end of Zelda,” “Minecraft,” “The Ore­gon Trail,” “Poke­mon,” “The Sims,” “Sonic the Hedge­hog” and “Space In­vaders.”

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 or pop cul­ture.

“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 MMORPG — “mas­sively mul­ti­player on­line role-play­ing game” — ever cre­ated. As of Fe­bru­ary, it had more than 10 mil­lion sub­scribers, rep­re­sented by avatars they cre­ate, ac­cord­ing to The Strong.

Six­teen-year-old gamer Shaun Cor­bett, of Rochester, said af­ter the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony that he was ex­pect­ing “Doom,” “Su­per Mario Bros.” and “Pac-Man” to get in.

“`Tetris’ I wasn’t ex­pect­ing but I can see where they’re com­ing from. It made puz­zle games popular,” Cor­bett said.

He said his fas­ci­na­tion with video games started with Poke­mon.

“I en­joyed watch­ing the show. I en­joyed play­ing the card game,” he said. “I got the video game on the Game Boy Ad­vance for Christ­mas when I was 7 and I just have a lot of good mem­o­ries of play­ing it with my cousins, my par­ents show­ing me how it worked.”

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. In 2014, the in­dus­try sold more than 135 mil­lion games and gen­er­ated more than US$22 bil­lion in rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to the ESA.

Nom­i­na­tions for the hall of fame’s class of 2016 are open from now through the end of March.


First Bal­le­rina Sergei Smirnov, front right, leads dancers in a run-through, ahead of a per­for­mance of Swan Lake in Mex­ico City on Wed­nes­day, June 3. A Rus­sian ballet com­pany is tour­ing Mex­ico with a ver­sion of Swan Lake set against a 3D set made up of screens dis­play­ing video pro­jec­tions.

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