When selecting new entires for the World Video Game Hall of Fame, judges consider a number of criteria. Is the game widely known and remembered? Has its popularity endured over the years? And did it influence not only other video games, but society in general?
Microsoft Solitaire, bundled with the Windows operating system since 1990, might seem like a modest example of video gaming culture, but it easily meets the above benchmarks. And so, as of this month, it’s now an official member of the World Video Game Hall of Fame, joining classic titles like Doom, Tetris, World of Warcraft, and Halo: Combat Evolved.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame is a relatively new institution, created in 2015 and overseen by educational institute The Strong. Its official home is in The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, and each year it selects a handful of new inductees.
Solitaire may be a video game for the ages, but its inclusion in Windows had a higher purpose. The developers of the operating system felt that the familiar game was the perfect way to introduce users to relatively new computing concepts, like using a mouse and drag-and-drop. By playing Solitaire, users honed more than their card skills: a win-win for all.
Solitaire was first bundled with Windows 3.0 and appeared in every subsequent version of the software up until Windows 8.1. It was removed from the base level operating system, but was returned in Windows 10 after Microsoft admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, still have “devoted followings.”
Because of its inclusion in the world’s most popular PC operating system, lowly Solitaire has likely been installed on more than one billion devices, says the Strong Museum, making it one of the most popular video games of all time. “Microsoft Solitaire demonstrated that there existed a vast market for games that appeal to people of all types, paving the way for the growth of the casual game market,” said the institute in a press statement.
In a blog post, Microsoft’s Paul Jensen, studio manager for Microsoft Casual Games, said the induction of Microsoft Solitaire was historic. “We are humbly honored to have the opportunity to work on a game that has such broad appeal, is localized into 65 languages, and played in over 200 markets around the world, including Antarctica,” said Jensen.