Thousands of video games are released each year, but only a handful can lay claim to being influential enough to inspire other projects and even change the shape of the industry as a whole.
Here is a look at this select group of boundary-pushing titles and the elements which made them so significant.
Super Mario Bros
While it was not even the first platform game that Nintendo had made, when Super Mario Bros released in 1985 it set the world alight thanks to the sheer quality of its level design, the tightness of its controls and the personality that was squeezed into every frame of animation.
Although platformers had their day in the sun during the 80s and early 90s, the influence of this seminal franchise is still felt today. In particular it is the playful aesthetic that is most enduring, with the vibrancy of the world of the game being replicated in everything from Fortnite to live casino experiences.
Like Super Mario Bros before it, Doom was not the first FPS ever made, but managed to set the bar in terms of gameplay, graphics and level design.
The maze-like levels and endless key-hunting may seem very dated by modern standards, but the template of Doom’s intense action, gore and adult-focused design would be replicated time and again by pretenders to its throne.
The fact that Doom is still going strong, with the 2016 re-boot and the recent sequel earning rave reviews, is a testament to the legacy of the original.
Grand Theft Auto III
Today, developer Rockstar Games is a true behemoth of the entertainment industry, with the fifth incarnation of its Grand Theft Auto franchise continuing to entertain millions of players over seven years after its release. However, it was the third release in the series all the way back in 2001 that brought about the revolution to 3D third person open-world gameplay that remains relevant almost two decades later.
From the larger-than-life characters to the side quests, mini-games and freeform carnage, GTA III helped to spawn a wave of imitations as well as sequels that would be a true pop cultural phenomenon stretching way beyond the gaming niche.
‘Souls-like’ has developed into a genre in its own right in the wake of the huge success of FromSoftware’s punishingly difficult 2011 action-adventure RPG, which is a sure sign that its influence over the industry is noteworthy.
The expansion of the Souls series itself, including off-shoots such as Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, has created several games which are ranked among the best ever made by players and professional critics alike. Meanwhile games which play upon the same mechanics and themes, including 3D titles like Lords of the Fallen and 2D platformers like Hollow Knight, have kept an old-school approach to challenge alive at a time when many mainstream titles were receiving criticism for being too easy.
Pac-Man is an intriguing example of a game which was at one point synonymous with the entire interactive entertainment industry, but has since faded from the spotlight to the point that it is difficult to explain exactly how important it was to anyone who was not actually around at the time of its dominance.
Even so, it is worth recognizing this simplistic yet addictive game for the influence it had at the time, generating billions in revenue when it was only available at arcades and going on to demonstrate that the commercial potential of video games was worth exploring.
Many of the other games mentioned in this list are arguably more influential in terms of gameplay, design or theme, but Pac-Man is still a touchstone for an entire generation.