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Windows Solitaire a surprising inductee into video game hall of fame

It wasn't flashy, but it helped billions of people waste time and get better at a card game.

Simple game designed to teach people how to use a mouse

Windows Solitaire, included to help people learn how to use a mouse, is being inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
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World of Warcraft. Doom. Grand Theft Auto.

Those three video games have all been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. They all feature detailed stories, brilliant graphics, and impressive sound.

And then there's Windows Solitaire.

Yes, perhaps the humblest of screen distractions, Solitaire is now taking its place in the Hall of Fame.

While there were no fancy graphics, story line or even sound to Solitaire, it does have one immensely impressive statistic: it was installed on more than a billion computers. It's probably the most popular video game, ever.

That's because it came with every version of the Windows operating system from Windows 3.0 to Windows 7. That's 12 iterations of the world's most popular OS, spanning almost 20 years.

Solitaire was perhaps the first video game that users were drawn into because it was there—paving the way for other small, casual but addictive games like Bejeweled Blitz and Candy Crush Saga.

Most people tried it, and some people played it compulsively for hours.

But more than a time waster, Windows Solitaire was a clever trojan horse, in the best possible way: When Windows 3.0 was introduced, the computer mouse went mainstream. And most users were unfamiliar with the process of clicking, dragging, double-clicking and clicking-and-dragging that pretty much everybody now does as a virtual extension of their hands.

So Solitaire aimed to help that, by giving people a chance to practice mouse movements in the guise of playing a simple game that many folks already knew how to play in real life.

Which is good. Because, as a game, Windows Solitaire didn't have much going for it. Not least the fact that it was almost impossible to win.  

So this year, it's being inducted into the Strong National Museum of Play's World Video Game Hall of Fame, and will take its place alongside Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man and Pong.

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