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Another look at a hall

Halls of fame can be appreciated on many different levels.

There is, of course, the recognition that those who have been enshrined are among the greatest in their field, whether that be baseball, football, basketball or hockey players, the best boxers of all time, those who have transformed the world of music, those who have been involved in motorsports, those whose inventions have changed the world — the list really can go on and on.

Any hall of fame also is an invaluable museum, a place where you can go to learn about those people who truly made a difference in their fields, but a place where you can study history — you can see how uniforms changed over the years and how racing cars have evolved, for example.

While either of the first two levels can be satisfying, there’s another level at which you can look at any hall of fame, and it’s one that is guaranteed to spark the most interest — the never-ending discussions about those who are in any given hall and probably didn’t deserve it and those who have yet to be enshrined and who probably should have been honored much, much sooner.

We got a reminder of that on June 18 when the World Video Game Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2020. With everything that’s been in the news recently, it’s possible that the announcement slipped past you.

Earning spots in the hall this year were Atari’s Centipede, King’s Quest, Bejeweled and Minecraft. This year’s honorees, officials explained, were chosen for the influence they have had on the industry and all of the gamers who have spent countless hours playing them.

Those additions bring to 28 the number of games enshrined since the hall welcomed its first class in 2015. Each is worthy of selection, especially when you consider the eight other finalists who missed out. The list is formidable, and includes a couple of games that are as enjoyable to play today as they were when they were first released. It includes Frogger, Goldeneye 007, Guitar Hero, NBA Jam, Nokia Snake, Super Smash Bros., Uncharted 2 and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

This year’s finalists fit the criteria the hall has established: Each has reached icon status; each has enjoyed longevity and enjoyed popularity over time; each has crossed international boundaries; and each has shown significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment or on popular culture and society in general. That last criterion, by the way, is so important that a game can be inducted on it alone, even without meeting any of the other three.

While anyone can nominate a game, the final selections are made based on the recommendations of a Players Choice ballot and an international selection committee that includes journalists, scholars and others who are familiar with video games and their role in society.

That Class of 2015 included some real classics, including DOOM, Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, World of Warcraft and Pac-Man, which celebrated its 40th anniversary on May 22 of this year.

Space Invaders, the Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog and Grand Theft Auto III were among those who joined the hall in 2016; Donkey Kong, Pokemon Red and Green, Halo: Combat Evolved and Street Fighter II were among those welcomed in 2017; John Madden Football and Final Fantasy VII were among those honored in 2018; and Mortal Kombat and Microsoft Solitaire were among those recognized in 2019.

The hall is housed in an appropriate location — the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., which is, as its website explains, devoted to the history and exploration of play. It’s also the home of the National Toy Hall of Fame, which will release its honorees later this year.

Whether you agree with this year’s additions to the video game of fame, are left wondering how some game slipped in or just can’t believe a longtime favorite of yours still has not been enshrined, the hall, like many others, helps put some perspective about where we have been and reminds us there’s no way to know what next year will bring.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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