Whether or not they intentionally chose May 4 -- arguably geek culture's most favorite day of the year -- is up for debate, but The Strong National Museum of Play today presented the 2017 inductees into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Based on a committee formed of international journalists, game developers, and educators, this year's inductees include "Donkey Kong," "Street Fighter II," Pokémon "Red" and "Green," and "Halo: Combat Evolved."
In 1981, "Donkey Kong" was not only Nintendo's most profitable game at the time, selling an estimated 132,000 arcade cabinets in the US alone, it also launched the career of legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. It's often overlooked that video gaming culture's most iconic character, Mario, first appeared in Donkey Kong, then known simply as "jumpman." "Donkey Kong" is a staple in the history of games, not only for its mass appeal, and -- for the time -- vibrant and simplistic graphics, but for paving the steps for some of the industry's most iconic designers and characters.
After the decline of arcade gaming in the 80's (when the industry started to shift toward home consoles), Capcom's 1991 phenomenon "Street Fighter II" revitalized the arcade culture upon its release. After selling 60,000 arcade cabinets, and laying the foundation for fighting game competitive culture, Capcom released a "Champion Edition" cabinet, which sold 140,000 cabinets, making it one of the top-selling arcade games.
Originally called "Pocket Monster," Pokémon was released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996 as two separate games, "Red" and "Green." The Pokémon series has since sold 260 million copies across all of its games and 21.5 billion trading cards, and has spawned 800 television episodes and 17 movies. With "Pokémon Go" dominating 2016, Pokémon remains just as culturally present today as it did in 1996.
In 2001, Bungie's "Halo: Combat Evolved" changed first-person shooters on consoles forever. Fifty percent of Microsoft's original Xbox's were purchased along with a copy of "Halo," and the success of Microsoft's first console is owed to the game. Before the days of Xbox Live, Halo cultivated a culture of LAN parties, requiring players to lug their own consoles into one room together, so they could all play with one another. Frank O'Connor, franchise development director of Halo, flew in from Seattle to give the induction speech for the game.
Alongside the inductees, the nominees for 2017's World Video Game Hall of Fame included "Final Fantasy VII," Microsoft Windows "Solitaire," "Mortal Kombat," "Myst," "Portal," "Resident Evil," "Tomb Raider," and "Wii Sports."