Today officially marked the day the World Video Game Hall of Fame officially announced the Class of 2016 inductees in a formal ceremony. Once again, six new games were inducted. Just shy of one month ago, I had made my predictions on the 2016 class and now it is time I follow up on it with my analysis, reaction, and commentary.
To start off, I want to congratulate all the developers, publishers, employees, programmers, and everyone else who were involved with the six games inducted. Everyone should be proud to see six more great representatives for a Hall of Fame still in its infancy and is still establishing itself as a public mainstay in the likes of The Toy Hall of Fame and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Out of the six predictions I stated last month, 4 out of the 6 made it into the hall today. I am happy to say the majority of my predictions were correct. With only one class sample available, getting over 50% of my predictions right is a great achievement for a Hall of Fame that won’t be easy to guess until it hits its fifth anniversary. The one easy prediction I did get correct was the Class of 2016 being another class filled with wide representations from the history of the medium. Anyone who paid close attention to both the Hall of Fame criteria and the Class of 2015 knew this was going to be a repeat of the previous year. Sonic The Hedgehog, Grand Theft Auto III, The Legend of Zelda, The Sims, The Oregon Trail, and Space Invaders were the six lucky winners. We have different timelines, different genres, and different influences well represented. Last year’s class had universal praise and hardly any controversy happened. I personally can’t make the same statement for this year’s class not because of the entries, but because one of the games left out is a head-scratcher. Before that, I do want to hand out some rewards out.
- The Redemption Award: Space Invaders– One year ago, Space Invaders was considered to be the snub of the inaugural class. In my opinion, I didn’t see it as such since the first batch of finalists was a competitive field. One year later, Space Invaders is redeemed as the game that started both the space age of video games and as the game to jump start the space shooter and even the shoot em up genre.
- The Controversial Award: Grand Theft Auto III– My definition of controversial for this award is not “this game didn’t deserve to get in”. The definition for this award is for a game that generated controversial back when it was released in the footsteps of Doom and Mortal Kombat. Grand Theft Auto III‘s influenial design for sandbox games remains present in today’s games and Grand Theft Auto still ruffles feathers today. One should never shy away from controversy and the World Video Game Hall of Fame once again did not shy away from it.
- Education Award: Oregon Trail – Oregon Trail is the example and blueprint for edutainment games. It showed the world it is possible to create a game to both educate the public and be successful. Schools all over the United States had Oregon Trail installed on their computers (my school included) and there are still edutainment games being created today in hopes they will have the same spark as Oregon Trail.
- The Legacy Award: The Legend of Zelda– 30 years later and The Legend of Zelda is still a high profile Nintendo franchise and a high profile adventure series. The Legend of Zelda is the blueprint for non-linear open world action-adventure games today. Its not easy for a video game series to be relevant in 20, 25 or even 30 years from its creation. The Legend of Zelda continues to quench our thirst for adventure and its legacy continues to shine across the world.
- The Surprise Pick Award: The Sims– Out of the six picks in this years class, The Sims was the most surprising to me. I had originally predicted both it and Zelda would barely miss the hall. In the case of The Sims, it was because I thought there was only going to be one PC game in the class and The Oregon Trail had the better odds. The Sims was and is still a popular simulation of our lives. When it first came out on PCs years ago, I had fun playing with the family I created years ago. Being able to make decisions for these virtual humans was either great or in some cases evil. People around the world continue to be fascinated by The Sims and will be for years to come.
- The Public Nomination Award: Sonic The Hedgehog– For those of you who didn’t know, the World Video Game Hall of Fame held a poll on their site for the public to choose their favorite finalist and the winner happened to be Sonic The Hedgehog. The game also gets a constellation Rival Mascot Award. Even without the popularity poll, Sonic The Hedgehog was still an easy pick for its influence on the Nintendo-Sega war, the impact it had on platformers, and for being Mario’s rival for 25 years. The Hall of Fame picked the Mickey Mouse of video games and now it has the Bugs Bunny of video games.
- Class of 2016 Snub: Every Hall of Fame has one game to not get in when it should have been inducted. Last year, it was Space Invaders In a surprising and rather sad scenario, the game to get snubbed from the hall this year was Pokémon Red and Green. To be honest with you all, I am puzzled by this choice. Some people were likely ticked off I had placed the Hall of Fame odds for Red and Green at 100% for my predictions. Logically, it was one of the stronger choices and I argue it was the strongest entry. It was a lock in for the hall based on their criteria. The stars were aligned for Red and Green to be inducted. This year was the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon. Handheld gaming over the last 20 years owes its thanks to Pokemon for changing the climate of portable gaming and portable handhelds. It was a phenomenon in the way of The Sims. Consoles, PCs, and Arcades are well represented. Unfortunately, we have to wait another year before we get a predominately handheld gaming representative. At least I have learned one lesson. From this point forward, any predictions I make will never have the odds at 100% again. The maximum odds will now be 99%.
I choose my words carefully here. I have no evidence or proof of any of the information I am about to state. It is only a theory and should not be taken as fact. My knowledge of the induction process is as big as the public. Prior to the induction ceremony, there was a poll for the public to decide their favorite finalist. Once I put in my vote, I watched the results each day. For all but 7 days, Pokémon Red and Green was leading the poll with the majority of the votes. Sonic went from having 18% of the vote to 36% a few days. This is not an accusation towards anyone in the Sonic fanbase trying to push Sonic into the Hall, it was going to get in as me and many others had predicted. As the picture below illustrates, Only about 500 votes separated the two games and Zelda was in third with Final Fantasy fourth. Let’s make one thing clear. The public has minimal influence on the actual decision, but one has to wonder if Red and Green had won the poll, would it have been inducted into the class? Likely not, but I do have a theory one of the six spots may have been saved for the poll winner. By no means does Red and Green’s absence in this year’s class ruin the credibility of the Hall; it does put a questionable stain on it until next year. Will we know the reasons it was not included this year? No. They don’t owe anyone an explanation. In due time, Pokémon Red and Green will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. We will even have a good story to share a few years from now when we look back on this specific class. Until then, it is relegated to Future Hall of Famer status.
With another Hall of Fame class decided, I am looking forward to the Class of 2017 and finding out which games will be finalists next year. The six games chosen were excellent picks in a tougher finalist field from one year ago. If you are interested in the Strong National Museum of Play and would like to nominate a favorite game for Hall of Fame consideration, I recommend filling out a nomination form. I don’t believe this form has been well known to the public yet. Please share the form with everyone who is interested in the Hall of Fame.
What are your thoughts and reactions towards the Class of 2016? Do you agree with the six picks this year or Do you disagree with the six picks? If you had a vote, which six games would you have picked from the finalists poll? Feel free to weigh in and share your thoughts and discussions with me below.