The classic Windows game Solitaire has joined such landmarks as Doom, Tetris, and World of Warcraft in being inducted into the Strong Museum of Play’s World Video Game Hall of Fame. The award recognizes Solitaire‘s role as a significant part of gaming’s history.
Solitaire was first bundled with Windows 3.0. Much like the other notable bundled game, Minesweeper, Solitaire was there to serve as a secret tutorial: in a time when the mouse was still regarded as a new and exotic piece of computer hardware, Solitaire honed clicking, double clicking, and drag-and-drop skills. As a computerized version of a familiar card game, it was instantly recognizable. It was bundled with every subsequent Windows version, up to Windows 7. Windows 8 replaced it with a much more varied set of card games.
The combination of approachability and bundling means that the game has been installed on more than a billion PCs, and it has likely been played by many billions of people.
Despite its fame and enormous player base, I’d be hesitant to call Solitaire a good game. It’s a straightforward version of the card game, and aside from the animated card backs and iconic victory animation that sees all the cards jumping out of their stacks and bouncing away, it did little to really take advantage of its computerization.
Perhaps most unforgivable is that many hands of Solitaire are simply unwinnable, no matter how skillfully played. Contrast this with the vastly superior FreeCell, where in theory every regular game can be won. And both of those pale in comparison to Minesweeper, a game that arguably must be played on a computer, having no real analogue-world counterpart.