Four inductees joined the World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play, organizers announced Thursday: Barbie Fashion Designer, Computer Space, The Last of Us, and Wii Sports. The quartet of classic games was recognized by the Hall of Fame for their influence on popular culture or on the game industry, and will be on display at the expanded The Strong National Museum of Play this summer.
2023’s World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees beat out a strong list of nominees for this year’s inclusion, a group of finalists that also included Age of Empires, Angry Birds, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, FIFA International Soccer, GoldenEye 007, NBA 2K, Quake, and Wizardry.
In a news release, the Strong detailed the impact of each game, starting with Digital Domain and Mattel Media’s Barbie CD-ROM game. Barbie Fashion Designer, organizers noted, helped prove a market for games targeted at girls.
“Barbie Fashion Designer became a jumping-off point for the girls’ games movement and shook up the software and gaming scene,” said collections manager Kristy Hisert. “It also sparked important questions and debate. What does it mean to be a game for girls? Should there even be games ‘for girls’? What are the implications of these games? What are the consequences of gendering games?”
Naughty Dog’s original The Last of Us was lauded by the Strong for its “in-depth storytelling, intimate exploration of humanity, thrilling game jumps and cutscenes, and memorable characters.”
“The Last of Us remains popular because of its quality of gameplay and strength of story,” said Lindsey Kurano, video game curator, in a statement.
Nintendo’s Wii Sports was a watershed moment for gaming; like Barbie Fashion Designer, Wii Sports appealed to an untapped market. Aryol Prater, research specialist for Black play and culture, noted that Wii Sports “made gamers out of millions of people around the world who’d never thought about playing one before. It became a gaming phenomenon as news stories proliferated about the game getting diverse groups of people—including those at many senior centers—off their couches and breaking a sweat with virtual bowling, tennis, and more.”
Finally, Computer Space, a title inspired by previous World Video Game Hall of Fame inductee Spacewar, broke ground for being the first commercial video game. Prior to Computer Space’s 1971 release, there really was no commercial “video game industry.”
“Computer Space didn’t bring video games to the masses,” said Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for interpretation and electronic games, “but by showing that video games could reach paying audiences outside of computer labs, it laid the foundations for the game industry.”
Barbie Fashion Designer, Computer Space, The Last of Us, and Wii Sports join last year’s inductees, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ms. Pac-Man, Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Dance Dance Revolution, as Hall of Fame games. In total, 40 games are now recognized by the World Video Game Hall of Fame.