Street Fighter II and Solitaire among Video Game Hall of Fame finalists

Street Fighter II is among the 12 finalists up for induction into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Street Fighter II is among the 12 finalists up for induction into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. PHOTO: MICROSOFT

(NYTIMES) - You might not have realised it while you were frantically pressing (or smashing) X on your Super Nintendo, trying to urge E. Honda to corner M. Bison with a blinding flurry of punches, but Street Fighter II changed the gaming industry forever.

Surely, you can be forgiven if you were more focused on avoiding flying barrels and rescuing a princess from an angry ape, rather than considering the artistic greatness of Donkey Kong or contemplating the birth of the most famous and revered fictional plumber in the history of mankind - Mario. And while you were killing time trying to get to the blur of cards on screen after beating the Windows version of Solitaire, you probably were not thinking about how that distraction was installed on more than 1 billion machines and was a turning point in how home computing is viewed.

But Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II and Microsoft Windows Solitaire are among the 12 finalists up for induction into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The Strong, the National Museum of Play, in Rochester, New York, took nominations on its website for its third class of inductees. They poured in from more than 50 countries.

From there, officials from the museum, which operates the hall of fame, examined the nominations against the criteria required for induction. These included whether the games were iconic, were popular over a sustained period of time, crossed geographic boundaries and were sufficiently influential, both over the gaming industry and pop culture.

"Many of these games really changed the way that we think about video games by introducing video games to new audiences," said Jeremy Saucier, an assistant director at the museum.

One of the nominees is Wii Sports, which was unveiled in 2006. It was not quite virtual reality, but it allowed gamers to actually mimic swinging a racket in a tennis match or taking a bowler's stance in nailing a strike.

"That game really got people off the couch and sweating while playing video games," Saucier said. "It made it more of an active action kind of game that you played with other people around you."

The other nominees are Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Portal, Pokemon Red And Green, Myst, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy VII and Halo: Combat Evolved. Perhaps the most surprising name on the list is Microsoft Windows Solitaire, which is not traditionally mentioned as an iconic video game, at least not in the same breath as Donkey Kong and Pokemon.

"That was an extremely important game in the sense that many people first learned how to use a computer mouse by playing solitaire," Saucier said. "Many people, the first time they had played a digital game was Microsoft Solitaire."

The ape in Donkey Kong was actually a villain, but this was not the case in a number of its spinoffs. It was the game that spurred the career of Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto would go on to become one of the most innovative video game developers of all time for Nintendo, and this particular game gave birth to a plumber named Mario (although he was originally known as Jumpman.)

The actual inductees will be announced on May 4 after The Strong consults with an external advisory board made up of video game journalists and scholars considered to be experts in the field.