Despite forming a billion-dollar industry that has made an undeniable impact on mainstream pop culture and technology, most people still don’t consider video games to be an art form. Every year, though, the video game industry inches closer to being recognized as a serious medium in entertainment. And the Strong National Museum of Play is playing a prominent role in uplifting video games’ status with its World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Yesterday, The Strong announced its new inductees. And no, once again “Half-Life” didn’t get in. Sorry, Gordon Freeman. It looks like you’ll have to crawl back into the air vent from which you came.
Chosen by a committee of international journalists, game developers, and educators, this year's inductees are “Spacewar!,” “John Madden Football,” “Tomb Raider,” and “Final Fantasy VII.”
“Spacewar!” may not be as common a household name as “Pong” or “Space Invaders,” and it wasn’t a commercial game, but it’s valued for having helped launch the multi-billion-dollar video game industry, says Jon-Paul Dyson, vice president and director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games.
“John Madden Football” reshaped the landscape of sports video games are today. The Strong recognized it for having sold 100 million copies since its debut, its influence on sports- orientated gaming, and how it’s changed the way actual sports games are broadcast.
“Tomb Raider” not only broke boundaries in its technological achievements, which features a cinematic 3D universe, but it also features the most iconic female protagonist in gaming: Lara Croft. And contrary to her early status as a sex symbol, Croft’s character has evolved to become “the epitome of a strong female hero,” says Strong curator Shannon Symonds.
The Final Fantasy franchise was already a popular series, but it was “Final Fantasy VII” that took the series, and the medium, to new heights of storytelling. It is widely seen as the installment that broke Japanese role-playing games into mainstream popularity, according to Symonds, and introduced some of video games’ most memorable characters – such as Cloud and Sephiroth – who’ve appeared in other franchises and media.
This year’s other nominees for the World Video Game Hall of Fame included “Asteroids,” “Call of Duty,” “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Half-Life,” “King’s Quest,” “Metroid,” “Minecraft,” and “Ms. Pac-Man.”