Nike to sports, McDonald’s to hamburgers, Apple iPod to mp3 players; almost every major consumer industry has a handful of iconic companies that embody almost everything that industry is about. But what about the video gaming industry? An industry that has existed for decades, is the love of schoolkids everywhere and whose subject matter sparks the interest of art galleries, movies, the Guinness Book of World Records, must have icons of its own!
This list hopes to pick out the icons that not necessarily look the coolest or the most beautiful, but are recognisable and punchy like the Nike tick.
Number 5: The NES Controller
Everyone who plays games knows what the NES controller looks like, even if they haven’t used one! This highly unergonomic but punchy device began a revolution in gaming for the masses. While not the first gamepad, it was the first to take off and become popular.
Prior to the NES controller, gamers had two button joysticks, remote controls, even keyboards with teletype printers to receive game messages. The ease with which we kick back and relax in our couches with our wireless controllers was done almost as well two decades ago with this controller. In addition, wIth its bold black Dpad and bright red button design, it definitely stood out from the pack, and its simple image remains burned into the heartfelt memories of many millions of veteran gamers today.
Number 4: The Space Invader
Just like every other popular icon, the Space Invaders arcade game concept is one that has been burned into the public consciousness. Everyone knows that you’re a little ship that shoots these guys. What is most interesting about the space invader however, is that it is the only icon in this list…with multiple forms.
Few people have a solid idea of what the Space Invader looks like, but everyone knows a space invader when they see one. This room for interpretation has allowed the Space Invader to literally invade our world, from crop circles, memes, even underwear! A truly iconic piece of gaming history that is worthy of this list.
Number 3: The T-shaped Tetris block
In spite of its relatively tender young age of 23, Tetris is a game that feels as old as time. It has graced almost every gaming platform and operating system conceived since its birth, and whose concept is so simple it makes an ideal practice piece for fledgling gaming programmers.
It has a mental quality named after it, features prominently in Japanese television, and may even cure post traumatic stress! More importantly though, of all the different tetrominoes, why the T-shaped one?
Because it’s a T which stands for Tetris!
Number 2: Mario Mario
Quite possibly the most popular of video game icons today, Mario has been around for so long and invaded so much of our culture, Nintendo may have created someone more badass than Chuck Norris! Mario has appeared in hundreds of games crossing multiple genres from beat-em-ups, racing and even RPGs, creating some of the most memorable games in videogame history.
The Mario theme is one of the best known songs in gaming history, Mario’s italian accent is one of the most distinctive voices in gaming history, and even his game’s sound effects have more punch and notoriety than the rev of a Harley Davidson! What icon could possibly beat that?
Number 1: Pacman
Now this, is an icon. Everything an icon requires – simplicity, distinctiveness, global recognition, if there’s any icon to represent all of gaming, it’s Pac-Man. But you may protest, why did he beat Mario? First, unlike Mario, Pac-man is so simple that he could actually be a logo – not a mascot! Second, while many may think of Mario to represent all of gaming, he can’t be because he’s Nintendo’s mascot!
Playstation, Xbox, PC, mobile and every other form of gamer needs an icon as well, and Pac-man is the only icon with enough character and distinctiveness to do so…without any loyalty to a specific platform.
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