Influences are a key factor in how we create whatever it is we create. For an artist, it might be the influence of one of the great masters that helps to shape their work. A rock musician might cite Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa as the influences that helped him along his way to musical greatness. For a photographer, it might be the weird and wonderful black and white work of Diane Arbus that convinces her that color shots are not the right path to take. We are influenced by everything around us, whether we realize it or not. This is true of any creative industry and certainly true for the video game industry that so many of us are a part of today.

Video games have come a long way in a relatively short time. The games that we play today are all descendants of some of the first, most innovative, and trail-blazing games that were ever developed. Let’s look at some of the most influential games that have ever been created. We’re sure you’ll know their names!

Super Mario Bros

Developed by Nintendo in 1985

While Super Mario Bros was not the first in its lineage, there is no question that its influence was and is much greater than its predecessor, Super Mario. The game was initially released in Japan in early 1985 and was followed up by a limited release in the USA in the same year. The titular plumber brothers, Mario and Luigi, are on a mission to rescue a princess from an evil turtle. Super Mario Bros certainly isn’t the first of its kind, but it is widely considered to be the game that revolutionized the side scroller genre. Not only did fans love the bright graphics, but they also loved how quickly the game responded to their touch. The characters move speedily, and their jumps are wide and high, making it reasonably likely that players at most levels can enjoy the game.

Mario Bros held the record for most copies of a game sold for many years. This record was only broken 25 years after the game’s initial release by Wii Sports. Mario and Luigi’s faces, along with the other characters in the game, are some of the most well-known and easily recognizable in gaming history. Mario Brothers is not only a game for the ages; it is also credited with being part of the gaming industry’s revival after the crash it experienced in 1983. For many people, even those who may not consider themselves gamers, the game is a symbol of our childhoods and will hopefully continue to be one for many generations to come.

Final Fantasy VII

Developed by Square in 1997

Of all the Final Fantasy games, the seventh iteration is the one still the most revered today. While development for the game initially began in 1994, many delays kept it from reaching completion on schedule. Rendering issues necessitated a move to pre-rendered video, which meant that the game would need to move from Nintendo to Playstation. In the game, you play as a character called Cloud Strife. He is a mercenary who has joined up with a band of ecoterrorists in the hopes of stopping a massive corporation from destroying the planet to use its essence as a source of energy.

What sets Final Fantasy VII apart from the rest of its line and other similar games is its enormous universe and incredibly immersive storyline. Player’s grew very attached to the well-developed characters. Aerith’s (Cloud Strife’s love interest) death at the hands of antagonist Sephiroth is one of the best-known scenes in gaming history. FF VII was one of the first games to delve into 3D polygonal graphics in such incredible detail. One of its many claims to fame is that it brought the RPG genre out of the Japanese market and popularized it worldwide.

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Mass Effect Trilogy

Developed by Bioware between 2007 and 2012

Technically these are three games, but we’re listing all of them as one influence because Mass Effect was one of the best-received trilogies in gaming history. Reaching into deep space for its inspiration, Mass Effect takes place in an alternate reality where humanity has banded together with alien civilizations to colonize the Milky Way. This trilogy follows the Shepherd and his human crew as they attempt to keep the galaxy out of the hands of a machine race known as the Reapers.

Mass Effect is known as the trilogy that combined the RPG and action genres into something new and exciting. Storytelling and decision-making/ strategy come into play in all three games in a way that had never been seen before. Your decisions in-game one would impact your fate in game two- this was something completely unique in the video game world. Mass Effect was also a pioneer in using well-known actors (such as Martin Sheen and Carrie-Ann Moss) to voice their characters, giving them a new emotional depth. Voice acting in games has completely transformed in the last decade, and Mass Effect can be credited for a large amount of that.


Developed by ID Software in 1993

While DOOM may not have been the very first 3D FPS, it is still regarded as the best of its time. In the first of many DOOM titles, you play as a space marine, known only as Doom Guy. His task is to fight his way through the hordes of demons and hellspawn that have escaped their infernal home. You must survive long enough to close the portal from which they fled and restore some semblance of sanity and safety. There are many design elements in DOOM that have influenced developers since its release. Its clear differentiation between different locations was a hit with players. It leveled up in terms of textures and 3D elements, and lighting, making the game seem more realistic than its predecessors. DOOM also allowed players to modify levels or parts of the game (a process called “modding”), which is now a staple of many of the most loved games around. The game’s multiplayer mode was such a massive hit that workplace productivity actually dropped when it was released because players couldn’t stop playing, even during work hours.