It’s official: Mario is better than Sonic.
So says the Strong National Museum of Play, which inducted Super Mario Bros. into its World Video Game Hall of Fame. The Nintendo classic is one of six inductees announced by the museum on Thursday. Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Doom, and World of Warcraft round out the other five.
The museum’s criterion for induction was that each entry “have significantly affected the video game industry, popular culture, and society in general.” Judges selected six titles out of fifteen under consideration. Losers include Angry Birds, The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, and The Oregon Trail.
Super Mario Bros. inductee the real deal or just a safe choice?
The World Video Game Hall of Fame is Strong’s latest exhibit. The museum, named after prominent collector Margaret Strong, hosts the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Woodbury School, and publishes The American Journal of Play. The Strong has been in operation since 1969.
The Strong’s hall-of-famers are obviously safe choices, as well as frequent entries on “Greatest Games of All Time” lists. Pong, a primitive tennis sim, was the most popular video game of the mid-’70s. Pac-Man sparked a cultural craze in the early ’80s, manifested in apparel, a cartoon, a hit song, and now a starring role in a feature film. Super Mario Bros. rocketed Nintendo gaming hegemony later that decade, while Tetris’s simple premise attracted a tremendous following on Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy.
Doom is the most controversial choice, not for the selection itself, but for the debate it fostered in the 1990s. Historians often hold Doom as a milestone First-Person Shooter (FPS), but its explicit violence nearly brought in federal censorship in the United States.
World of WarCraft is the most recent of the six inductees. Released in 2004, WoW (as it’s often referred to) is remains the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) with approximately ten million users. WoW’s popularity sparked action figures, board games, a comic book, and an episode of South Park.
Sega fans, don’t fret: Sonic the Hedgehog is eligible for entry next year. And so is Atari’s ET.