Pacman (1980)

Though not the first video game, Pacman (originally named Puck-man, though renamed to discourage obscene graffiti) is the definitive video game in both popular and gaming culture. In movies and on television, Pacman is called upon to be any video game the producers desire, and deservedly so.

The story of a little yellow head roaming dark passages in search of items and power-ups that would enable it to defeat the enemy formed the basis of many action games to come after it. First-person shooters clearly draw from Pacman’s maze motif, the gathering and accumulation theme appears in everything from Mario to Diablo, and the simultaneous two-player play in later versions of the game has inspired an entire generation of multi-player games.

In addition to its original and enduring gameplay value, no other single video game includes so many of the motifs common in today’s games.