On June 18, The Strong Museum in Rochester held a digital ceremony to induct the World Video Game Hall of Fame finalists for 2020. The inductees were chosen from a pool of 12 nominees, which included games like Goldeneye 007, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Uncharted 2, and Frogger. 2015’s inductees included Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., DOOM, World Of Warcraft, and Tetris. Inducted in 2016 were games like the original Legend Of Zelda, Space Invaders, and Grand Theft Auto III. This pattern continues throughout the years, with inductees being games that have had a significant impact on the industry and influence on future releases.
The first inductee was PopCap’s Bejeweled. PopCap is a game development studio that is known best for creating Bejeweled and the Plants Vs. Zombies franchise and it was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2011. Bejeweled was released in 2001, as a simple browser game that single-handedly kickstarted the popular match-three puzzle game genre, inspiring other popular games like Candy Crush or Puzzle Quest. While Bejeweled was originally released on PC, it found great success on mobile platforms, first releasing on the Motorola Razr and later as one of the first games available on the Apple App Store. Developers estimated in 2013 that Bejeweled had been downloaded more than 500 million times.
“When we developed Bejeweled 20 years ago, we couldn’t have imagined that it would’ve been played by hundreds of millions of people around the world, spawn a whole new genre of casual match-three games, and be inducted into the World Video Hall of Fame,” said Jason Kapalka, the designer of Bejeweled. “On behalf of the whole team at PopCap, I’d like to thank The Strong for this amazing honor.”
The second inductee was one of Atari’s best-selling arcade titles, Centipede. Atari released the wildly popular arcade game in 1981. It’s a fixed shooter arcade game that became one of the most commercially successful titles of the video arcade age. Rather than taking place in space or some other realm, Centipede revolved around simply destroying insects. Its gameplay requires skill and concentration, getting more intense as you progress. Centipede’s developers wanted the game to be bright and appealing to players in dark arcades, choosing to use bright pastel colors for the graphics. It had wide appeal and was particularly popular with female players.
“Centipede was the second-most successful coin-operated game done at Atari,” said Ed Logg, Centipede’s project leader and designer. “I am still amazed every time I attend game shows to see Centipede, or when I receive recognition for the work we did in the early video game industry.”
The third inductee was King’s Quest, a role-playing adventure game developed for the PC by Roberta Williams, one of the earliest female game designers. Along with her husband Ken, Williams co-founded Sierra On-Line, an American video game developer and publisher. Originally released in 1984 on IBM’s PCjr, King’s Quest featured colorful graphics, enhanced audio, and a fantasy setting that set the standard for adventure games. King’s Quest put players in the shoes of a knight on a quest through the world of Daventry to obtain three magical treasures for the king, in exchange for the throne. You could interact with the world by typing short phrases out, like “bow to the king” or “read note”. The game’s setting, visuals, humor, and unique two-dimensional landscape made King’s Quest a breakout hit, establishing many of the conventions that adventure games still follow to this day.
The final inductee was Minecraft, by Mojang Studios. First released as a public alpha in 2009, its flexible rules and open sandbox-style gameplay offered endless possibilities. Every world is procedurally generated and filled with resources players have to extract in order to craft items and build structures. More impressive is Minecraft’s community, with tens of millions of active users on different platforms creating servers and mods dedicated to providing unique and enjoyable experiences. Players everywhere record, stream, and share their gameplay, learning from one another. As of 2019, Minecraft had sold more than 176 million copies across all platforms.
“No one could have predicted the amazing path Minecraft has taken, even those of us working on it,” said Mojang Studios Chief Storyteller Lydia Winters. “It’s been a crazy journey and one we are still on since we keep updating Minecraft 11 years later.”
You can read more about 2020’s inductees here.