The Strong museum in Rochester, N.Y. pays homage to all things play, with its National Toy Hall of Fame, a scholarly journal called the American Journal of Play, a games research library and a collection of more than 55,000 electronic game artifacts and corporate archives.
Now, the Strong is ascending to the next level, introducing the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
"There is no other video game award and recognition program such as this, which focuses solely on individual game titles across platforms and their impact over time and across international borders," said G. Rollie Adams, president and CEO of The Strong. "Our experience with the museum's National Toy Hall of Fame -- which receives widespread international attention each year -- provides both a proven model for such a hall of fame and evidence that it can advance understanding and appreciation of the impact of video games on culture and society. Electronic games have changed how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography."
The Strong has narrowed the video game field down to 15 nominees and the finalists will be inducted June 4. Click through to see the games in the running to be the Hall of Fame's inaugural honorees -- and at the end, cast a vote for your favorite.
"Angry Birds" was more than a mobile game -- it was a movement. After it launched in 2009, the addictive bird-tossing, pig-squashing challenge quickly rose to addictive prominence, spawning sequels, stuffed animals, clothing and even a cookbook. Games in the "Angry Birds" series have been downloaded more than two billion times.
The Strong chose "Doom," introduced by Id Software in 1993, for its "fast-paced action, smooth-scrolling graphics, and adrenaline-pumping combat that gamers loved and some cultural critics lambasted for being too violent." The game set the stage for today's first-person shooter genre. "Doom introduced numerous technological innovations into game play and influenced the form, function, feel, and perception of many of the first-person shooting games that followed," the museum said.
Gooooooooal! Also released in 1993, the "FIFA" soccer franchise is now on "FIFA 14" and is the gold standard in fake futbol. By 2010, "FIFA" games had sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling sports game franchise of all time.
The Legend of Zelda
The 1986 classic "The Legend of Zelda" is an icon of early TV console gaming. It was the first Nintendo Entertainment System game to sell more than a million copies as a stand-alone title and popularized non-linear, open-world exploration games. Link lives on today in games for all Nintendo platforms -- and in 3D, no less.
Players all around the world go online to create their own worlds in the pixelated, blocky realm of "Minecraft." In its first five years, the game had sold more than 54 million copies for computers, consoles, and mobile devices.
Despite long distances, food shortages and dysentery, the revolutionary educational game "Oregon Trail" is still going strong -- in one form or another -- after 44 years.
The Strong gives Pac-Man the nod for being the first video game character to become a pop culture star, "and set the stage for other iconic video game characters, such as Mario, Lara Croft, and Master Chief." "Pac-Man" started in the arcades in 1980 and went on to become the best-selling Atari 2600 game of all time. It is still played on every gaming platform today.
"Pokémon," will they choose you? "'Pokémon' created a multinational cultural phenomenon when it was released on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996 as 'Pocket Monsters Aka' (Red) and 'Midori' (Green)," according to The Strong. As of 2014, the Pokémon franchise included more than 260 million copies of its games, 21.5 billion trading cards, and spinoffs including more than 800 television episodes and 17 movies.
"Pong," introduced in 1972, is widely considered the first video game (never mind that it was Atari's second). A home version that debuted in 1975 was a best-selling hit that helped launch the video game revolution.
Of the 2000 virtual dollhouse game, the museum said, "By simulating the complexities of human relationships, 'The Sims' taught players to view their own lives in new ways. With more than 175 million copies sold (as of 2013) in 60 countries and more than 20 languages, The Sims is the best-selling PC game franchise ever."
Sonic the Hedgehog
The Strong calls out Sonic's "brash, in-your-face attitude" for resonating with Generation X gamers. After its launch in 1991, "Sonic became the face of the Sega Genesis game console, allowing Sega to challenge Nintendo for supremacy in the electronic game marketplace."
"Space Invaders" was in many ways the progenitor of what gaming was to become. It debuted in 1978 and popularized the space shooter genre and the idea of getting a high score.
Super Mario Bros.
You can't underestimate the poster plumber of the gaming age. Created by famed Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto, the original "Super Mario" game has sold more than 40 million copies and left an indelible mark on pop culture.
Decades after it first came out on Game Boy in 1989, if you look to either side of you on the subway, you're like to find someone playing "Tetris." The falling puzzle game is an enduring challenge and a cultural icon, even without a charismatic character as its face.
World of Warcraft
"World of Warcraft" is basically the reason the term "massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs)" exists. Over the last 11 years, it has counted more than 100 million players overall, with more than 10 million currently active players worldwide. Is the highest grossing video game of all time.