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‘John Madden Football’ Got Inducted Into the Video Game Hall of Fame

It joins 'Spacewar!' 'Tomb Raider,' and 'Final Fantasy VII' in this year's class.

EA Games

John Madden Football, the groundbreaking gridiron classic that redefined sports video games, was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame today. It headlined a class of iconic games that also included Spacewar!, Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy VII.

The four titles, which were announced at an induction ceremony at The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, bested eight others to become the fourth official class in the WVGOF, which launched in 2015 and is located alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame inside The Strong. A list of 12 nominees ⏤ all originally nominated by the general public ⏤ was released in March and included heavy-hitters like Asteroids,Call of Duty, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, King’s Quest, Metroid, Minecraft, and Ms. Pac-Man.

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“The inductees span multiple decades, countries of origin, and gaming platforms,” read a statement issued by the Hall of Fame. “But all have significantly affected the video game industry, popular culture, and society in general.” The Hall “recognizes individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile” ⏤ and the Class of 2018 joins such classics as Donkey Kong, Doom, Pac Man,, and World of Warcraft.

Originally launched by Electronic Arts in 1988 ⏤ at a time when Nintendo’s Techmo Bowl reigned supreme ⏤ Madden was the first football game to broadcast the action from behind the quarterback. And while players could customize features like the weather and length of the quarters, EA still didn’t have a licensing deal with the NFL when it released, so there were no authentic professional teams or players from which to choose. It was also only available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II.

Museum of Play

That changed in 1990 when the game was re-released on Sega Genesis with 16 NFL franchises and All-Madden bonus team. From there, what is today known as Madden NFL went on to sell over 100 million copies, launch the Genesis as a gaming console on par with Nintendo, and ruin the careers of countless NFL stars who were unlucky enough to grace its cover.

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“John Madden Football’s action-oriented gameplay has changed the way we play and consume sports video games—and even the way actual sports games are broadcast,” said Jeremy Saucier, The Strong’s assistant vice president for interpretation and electronic games, in a statement. “It’s yearly, updated release of the game has modeled the path to success for franchises in other sports such as soccer, hockey, baseball, and basketball.”

With the exception of Space War, which was unveiled in 1962, three of the four inductees were released in the 1990s ⏤ Tomb Raider in 1996 and Final Fantasy VII. in 1997. All four games will now be on display at the Hall, joining the Strong’s collection of over 60,000 “video games, electronic games, and electronic game-related historical materials.”