ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Donkey Kong, Halo: Combat Evolved, Pokemon Redand Green and Street Fighter II are among the latest games inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
The inductees were announced Thursday at The Strong museum. They were selected from 12 finalists that were announced in March.
Established in 2015, the Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile — that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general.
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"Video games play an increasingly important role in play as we now have a generation of children who grew up playing video games having a tremendous impact on our culture," said Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of The Strong's International Center for the History of Electronic Games. "All of the games inducted brought people together."
The 2017 inductees, the Hall of Fame's third class, joined video game staples such as Super Mario Brothers, Pong, Tetris, the Legend of Zelda and Space Invaders.
Donkey Kong, released in 1981, was Nintendo's most profitable game to date. A mainstay in arcades in the '80s, this arcade game also introduced the world to Mario the plumber, who went on to be featured in numerous other video games including Super Mario Brothers, which was in the Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
Released in 1991 by Capcom, Street Fighter II transformed video game play in the '90s, Saucier said. Players no longer faced off against the game but offered head-to-head competition between two human opponents while playing this arcade game. While the game popularized street fighting, it also sparked one-on-one arcade tournaments.
When Pokémon launched on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996, the handheld game challenged players to collect 151 unique monsters. Pokémon Red and Green launched a franchise that took the world by storm and fueled interest in the Japanese culture. And, as evidenced with last year's introduction of Pokémon Go, the characters remain incredibly popular, said Shannon Symonds, associate curator of the International Center for the History of Video Games.
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Microsoft's Halo: Combat Evolved redefined combat games when it was released via XBox in 2001, Symonds said. The science fiction first-person shooter game combined an intricate storyline, memorable characters and a multi-player experience.
"These are all games I played as a kid and that inspired me to get into the video gaming industry," said Frank O'Connor, franchise creative director of Halo, 343 Industries, at the ceremony.
"Video games don't replace traditional games, they complement them," he said. Video games "give kids places to explore and characters to meet. And it in no way replaces your imagination."
Thousands of nominations from more than 100 countries were considered by a committee of video game experts. The games are judged on icon-status; longevity; geographical reach; and influence.
Follow Victoria Freile on Twitter: @vfreile
Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle