Many of the early video games took inspiration from real-life sports and games. Video games pushed the boundaries beyond what was possible in real life to try new things. This became the catalyst for innovation, and as a result, many highly influential video games were created.
Here are the 15 most influential video games ever created.
One of the many reasons why Tetris remains one of the most influential video games of all time is its simplicity.
The puzzle game revolves around fitting seven different geometrically-shaped blocks into one another, completing full horizontal lines that disappear. As more and more blocks appear, players have to be resourceful and manage to fit all blocks within the space given.
Tetris sold millions of copies and birthed the likes of Puzzle Bobble and one of the most popular puzzle games today – Candy Crush.
Super Mario Bros
Who would have thought that a stout Italian plumber and his brother on a mission to save a princess would become so popular that it changed the way we play video games.
Super Mario Bros is one, if not the most influential video game of all time. The characters are instantly recognizable on every continent on the planet.
Nintendo had previously popularized the platformer genre with the game Donkey Kong, but it was Super Mario Bros that did it so well that it defined the next few decades of gaming.
Pac-Man is one of the few games that revolutionized the way we play video games today. The game introduced several mechanics that are considered very basic by today’s standards, such as power-ups and AI enemies.
Long before Pac-Man was released, video games were either played alone or played against another player. It was in this game that players were being challenged by an AI in the form of ghosts.
Pac-Man quickly rose to the top as the titular character became one of the most recognized faces in the industry.
Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Some might say that Final Fantasy did it better or Dragon Quest was the ultimate role-playing game ever. However, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the video game that brought the fantasy RPG genre to the forefront.
With its rich world filled with colorful characters, splendid graphics, diverse interactions, and different narratives, Ocarina of Time is considered by many as a masterpiece in gaming.
Even to this day, this Legend of Zelda game is praised and is often a topic of discussion for many would-be game developers.
Doom may not hold the title of the first-ever first-person shooting game, but it is one of the most influential video games ever.
Doom introduced gamers to a whole new genre of gaming in the early 1990s when it featured a first-person perspective when shooting enemies and began innovating on this premise.
Doom featured amazing aesthetics and brilliant gameplay design that still rival many other FPS today.
Fighting games wouldn’t be the way they are today without the influence of the ultra-violent, ultra-gory actionfest that is Mortal Kombat.
Known for its very gruesome finishing moves, Mortal Kombat became the pillar of fighting games in the early 1990s, and it even spawned two live-action movies and several more video games in the past few decades.
To this day, Mortal Kombat remains the blueprint for many fighting video games.
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid might not be the video game that started the franchise, but it is the video game that put it on the map. Metal Gear Solid introduced stealth gameplay that many video games use to this very day.
Created by Hideo Kojima, this action-adventure video game continues to be one of the most memorable and influential video games of all time with stealth gameplay.
Players must carefully sneak behind enemies and jump on them before they can attack or complete missions without getting spotted or caught.
Grand Theft Auto III
Think of all the shenanigans you can do within an open-world video game. From causing mayhem in the streets to stealing cars and other vehicles for a living, any video game player instantly knows the game they want to play – Grand Theft Auto III.
Popularly known as GTA III, the game allows players to play as criminals that roam around a fictional city and commit crimes along the way.
The game also featured an open-world with a non-linear progression system that was quite innovative at the time the game was released. GTA III inspired many other RPGs within the genre, such as Saint’s Row and True Crime.
When you think of female characters within a video game, many would immediately think of Lara Croft. There’s a reason she’s often considered the first lady of gaming. Lara Croft is and always will be the Tomb Raider.
First released in 1996, this action-adventure video game was immediately compared to action heroes with the likes of Indiana Jones.
Tomb Raider was the first-ever highly-successful video game that centered around a strong and independent female character that everyone can root for.
If George Romero changed the landscape of horror movies with the introduction of zombies in film, Resident Evil did the same within the gaming industry.
Resident Evil may not be the first game to introduce zombies and other monstrous creatures, but it was the game that put zombies to good use.
The popularity of Resident Evil birthed a new genre of gaming, and soon, many other video games tried to emulate the horror-survival gameplay like Dino Crisis, Parasite Eve, and Silent Hill.
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft remains to be the most unrivaled video games of all time. This massively multiplayer online role-playing game started as a video game that expanded the lore of the Warcraft universe.
World of Warcraft continues to be a juggernaut within the subgenre of gaming as many other video games have tried to compete with it but failed to topple the king. Its gameplay and lore keep World of Warcraft influential to this day.
After 20 years, World of Warcraft has truly changed the MMO landscape for the better as many of its competitors strive hard to develop their MMO to compete with World of Warcraft.
Minecraft stayed in development for a few years before it was released to the public in 2011. Minecraft defined an entire decade’s worth of creativity in games. In Minecraft, players can do whatever they want, wherever they want, and whenever they want.
Minecraft popularized the sandbox genre, where players create their destiny within the game. While it was targeted at a certain audience, the game became so popular among all kinds of players and soon became one of the most popular video games of all time.
It is the creative use of its blocks that allows players to be innovative when it comes to playing the game. Players have created theme parks, castles, mansions, forts, and everything else in between.
The battle royale genre has risen in popularity thanks to one game that was not even meant to be a full-blown video game. Fortnite was a game mode from another game called Fortnite Save the World, where it was a very different game from what we have right now.
Fortnite changed the way people viewed battle royale games. Many thought that the genre lacked strategy or was not even fun, to begin with. However, things changed when Fortnite was released, and it revolutionized the way people play battle royale games.
Fortnite became one of the most popular battle royale games and the stepping stone for many other online shooters to create battle royale modes within their games.
League of Legends
League of Legends is the premiere multiplayer online battle arena game that has outranked its predecessors in terms of popularity and influence. For years, Riot Games’ League of Legends has dominated the market in terms of player base and popularity.
It was around its third year since release that League of Legends became one of the most played video games of all time and continues to do so up to today, a decade after it was released.
League of Legends further solidified itself as one of the most influential video games now that it has players all over the world and has expanded to other media such as music, merchandise, and even a newly released TV show on Netflix.
While many video games on this list continue to be very popular and highly influential, none is more transcendent than the first-ever video game to be created – Pong. Pong was created in the late 1960s and was released in 1972, and became a massive hit.
Some might say that the laughable mechanics of the game would pale in comparison to the complexities of today’s video games. However, there wouldn’t be any video games if not for Pong.
Pong is considered the most influential video game of all time, akin to the importance of the first Walkman in portable music and the Windows operating system to personal computing.
Old or new, these video games have made an impact on how video games were created, how we play these games, and how video games will be developed in many years to come.
With the new decade on the horizon, it’s exciting to see which video game will join this list to become another one of the most influential of all time.