The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, today announced the 12 finalists for 2020 induction: Bejeweled, Centipede, Frogger, GoldenEye 007, Guitar Hero, King’s Quest, Minecraft, NBA Jame, Nokia Snake, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
“These 12 World Video Game Hall of Fame finalists all significantly influenced the development of video games or popular culture,” says Jon-Paul C. Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Together, these games help tell the story of the gaming industry and its influence on society. Nokia Snake proved that mobile devices could be gaming platforms, and Bejeweled took that idea to new heights. Centipede was a hit in the early arcade, and Frogger jumped out of the arcade to become a pop culture icon. King’s Quest changed the adventure genre of games forever, and a game like Uncharted 2 pushed the boundaries of video game storytelling and art.”
The inductees will be announced at The Strong museum on a date to be determined.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame received thousands of nominations from more than 100 countries for consideration for the 2020 class. Fans may vote for their favorite finalists from March 19 to April 2 as part of a “Player’s Choice” ballot at worldvideogamehalloffame.org. The three games that receive the most public votes will form one ballot and will join the 29 other ballots submitted by members of the International Selection Advisory Committee, which is made up of journalists and scholars familiar with the history of video games and their role in society. The public, collectively, will have the weight of one judge.
Bejeweled: Initially created as a web-based Flash game in 2001, Bejeweled popularized the “match three” puzzle game and became one of the most iconic mobile games in history. It inspired many other mobile games using the same mechanics, and the game’s developer estimated in 2013 that it had been downloaded more than 500 million times. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called Bejeweled “the Gone with the Wind of the casual-game world—the most commercially successful and influential puzzle program in the genre’s short history.”
Centipede: When it debuted in 1981, Atari’s Centipede challenged players to blast an insect as it zigzagged across the screen in challenging patterns and at various speeds. Co-designed by Dona Bailey, one of the only female programmers in the 1980s arcade video game industry, the game helped attract more women into the arcade. It was an immediate success and became synonymous with the golden age of the arcade, though it found later life in re-releases on home consoles, portable game systems, mobile game apps, and even as a board game. It also spawned multiple clones—from Bug Attack to War of the Bugs—and a sequel, Millipede.
Frogger: Released first by Konami as an arcade game, Frogger challenged players to navigate a frog through oncoming traffic and over a river, combining simple mechanics with increasingly difficult gameplay. Licensed by Sega/Gremlin for release in the United States in 1981, Frogger found even more success being ported to home console systems. The game has launched more than 25 official and unofficial sequels and reboots, but its pop culture appeal has been its most enduring legacy. Frogger has been the subject of a song by band Bad Religion, featured in Walt Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph, and perhaps most famously, it was the centerpiece of a 1988 episode of Seinfeld.
GoldenEye 007: The Nintendo 64’s GoldenEye 007 stormed into living rooms in 1997 and proved that the first-person shooter game could succeed on the home console. Based on Ian Fleming’s iconic British superspy James Bond, the game dropped players into a rich world with immersive gameplay and an in-depth storyline. While the single-player mode was popular, its four-player, split-screen mode helped to make it the third best-selling game for the Nintendo 64 and proved an inspiration for other console shooter games that followed, including Microsoft’s Halo franchise.
Guitar Hero: Launched in 2005, Harmonix’s Guitar Hero challenged players to unleash their inner rock star by following on-screen notes and strumming to the beat of popular music on a plastic guitar. Its wide appeal, licensed music, and social gameplay spawned other similar titles, including the popular Rock Band. Activision, which acquired the game’s rights, released versions of Guitar Hero for nearly every platform, including home consoles, computers, and handheld and mobile devices. The Guitar Hero series has sold more than 25 million units worldwide and more than 60 million tracks, earning more than $2 billion.
King’s Quest: Designed by Sierra On-Line cofounder Roberta Williams, King’s Quest (1984) introduced players to the fantastical world of Daventry. The fairytale setting, unique visuals, and irreverent humor helped to make the game a hit on personal computers and popularized the graphic adventure genre. Sierra On-Line produced seven sequels, and the game influenced dozens of adventure games that followed and established Williams as one of the most significant game designers of the 1980s and 1990s.
Minecraft: With its endless play possibilities, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon since its introduction in 2009. Players in a worldwide, online community make their own creations using sets of pixilated blocks that they mine and use to build elaborate structures. The game offers nearly unlimited opportunities for creativity. As of 2019, the game had sold more than 176 million copies across all platforms, with more copies sold for consoles than for personal computers.
NBA Jam: Midway Games’ NBA Jam mixed gravity-defying slam dunks, frenetic game play, over-the-top commentary, and a roster of real National Basketball Ball Association (NBA) stars. Released first to the arcade in 1993, it earned operators $1 billion in revenue in its first year and became one of the most important sports arcade games of all time. It later entered millions of homes on console systems and spawned three sequels. Its success led Midway Games to create an entire sports arcade game division (1997 to 2012).
Nokia Snake: In 1997, Finnish tech company Nokia released a game to play on its mobile phones with a simple concept—move a snake around gobbling up pixelated food. It was aptly named Snake. While not the first mobile game ever created, it was the first to demonstrate that mobile phones could be significant gaming machines. It was preinstalled on more than 350 million phones, setting the stage for a mobile gaming revolution that would come a decade later with the introduction of the Apple’s iPhone and its App Store.
Super Smash Bros. Melee: Super Smash Bros. Melee appeared in 1991 and its appealing characters, tight control, and polished gameplay enabled Nintendo to sell more than seven million copies, making it the best-selling game for the GameCube console. The game’s popularity worldwide among both casual fans and the fighting-game community has helped Melee’s popularity endure even as multiple sequels have appeared.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: Released by Naughty Dog in 2009, Uncharted 2 was a sequel to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a rollicking adventure and treasure-hunting game. The sequel set a new standard for adventure games with slick storytelling, lush graphics, and compelling characters. It earned critical acclaim—including “Game of the Year” at the Game Developers Conference—and sold more than six million copies.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?: Released by Brøderbund in 1995, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? spawned one of the best-selling “edutainment” franchises, combing education and entertainment. Designed for the first generation of graphic-enabled personal computers, the title made learning world geography fun for millions of students as they searched for the whereabouts of the mysterious Carmen Sandiego. The game, which launched several sequels, also inspired a hit show on American Public Broadcasting in the 1990s and an animated series on Netflix—helping propel Carmen Sandiego and her world-traveling ways into the cultural zeitgeist.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes electronic games that meet the following criteria: icon-status, the game is widely recognized and remembered; longevity, the game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time; geographical reach, the game meets the above criteria across international boundaries; and influence, the game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general.
Anyone can nominate a game to the World Video Game Hall of Fame online at worldvideogamehallofame.org. Inductees to the first five classes of the World Video Game Hall of Fame—Colossal Cave Adventure, Donkey Kong, DOOM, Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto III, Halo: Combat Evolved, John Madden Football, The Legend of Zelda, Microsoft Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, The Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, Pokemon Red and Green, Pong, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Invaders, Spacewar!, Street Fighter II, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Kart, Tetris, Tomb Raider, and World of Warcraft—are displayed on permanent view at The Strong in Rochester, New York.