Genre Starters or Cultural Artifacts?

One of the first things I noticed in the “Is That Just Some Game? No, It’s a Cultural Artifact” article was that film and video games are still closely linked, even in their historical preservation. What surprised me, then, is that no one on Lowood’s committee was involved in film. I feel as if a filmmaker, reviewer, writer, or critic could have provided a unique perspective on the most important video games.


What I found the most interesting was that they chose games that gave rise to particular genres–multiplayer, competitive (obviously), real-time game strategy, etc. I would have thought this committee would have looked more closely at the games that had the most cultural impact, seeing as they were looking to preserve these games as cultural artifacts.


Having said that, I don’t think the committee was completely wrong. I think their choices of Spacewar!, Mario Brothers, and Sim City were right on target. But Sensible World of Soccer? Really? Now, I am by no means an intense gamer, but I had never heard of this game. After researching it briefly, I found that it’s a relatively popular game that has been remade several times over the past decade. I just don’t see it in the same category as Super Mario Brothers.


Mario is almost unarguably a cultural icon–from the first edition of the game to the multitude of Mario games that exist today, many kids have grown up both knowing who Mario is and seeing him as a part of their childhood. My sister, who grew up in the 80s, certainly did–and so did I, as a 90s kid.


No reasons were given for the choice of Sensible World of Soccer, so for those of you who have heard of it/played it, I would be interested in your perspective on why it fits into the category. As for the rest of the class, I would like to know how you would change this list–what games you would remove and what games you would take off?

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2 Responses to Genre Starters or Cultural Artifacts?

  1. Meghan Walsh says:

    I feel as if the list was created with not only popularity in mind but also what new elements a game brought to the gaming world. Through my quick wikipedia search on Sensible World of Soccer I found that it was rather novel in its use of a birds-eye view perspective and also in that “it became a first in video games when it attempted to encompass the entire professional footballing world into one game”. This, coupled with the fact that it did indeed have a group of ardent followers, perhaps makes this game worthy of making the list.
    In fact, the article does state that most of the games presented represent the beginnings of a new genre in gaming. Therefore it really doesn’t matter whether or not we have heard of the games, but rather their impact on gaming as a whole. If I was to make a list simply containing the games that were most popular in my life (Pokemon… Pokemon… Pokemon Snap… Pokemon Stadium… Pokemon Tetris… etc.. oh and Lord of the Rings!)… I think we could all agree that it might not be the most culturally significant list.

    • This explanation about Sensible World of Soccer makes sense (pardon the pun). It sounds like it was the first game to attempt the “franchise” mode that has become so popular in the Madden games.

      As you note, the list does seem to favor games that radically invented a new genre of gaming, rather than games that were in and of themselves good games. It raises the question: which is more important historically, the first of something or the first of something to do that something well?

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