Is 17 years enough time for a story to earn the right to be called a classic? The modern video game industry is only 25 years old, so that's roughly equivalent to Shakespeare in terms of staying power (with the Gutenberg press as a starting point)! Here's a cut scene from Final Fantasy IV, to be re-released yet again on the DS next month:
As the first game to present a story worthy of novelization, the title marked the beginning of an era where epic video games would become part of the broader culture.
The industry has yet to get the critical attention it merits. Reviewers treat games as they would cars, rating them by attributes like play control, sound, graphics, etc--not by the stories they tell and the characters they bring to life, or if they do so, it is in a very superficial way ("I give the story an '8'."). Attempts to tie games into the larger culture--the trade of good movie critics in the film industry--are lacking. I've tried as much, but I'm concerned with professional reviews, not amateur work like my own. Part of the problem is that contemporary role-playing games run 50 hours or more. Thus constructing a review requires a much greater investment of time than is the case with movies.
Still, I think it is not a matter of "if" but "when", as the video game industry continues to grow at a much faster rate than movies, music, and television industries do.
Since I'm already reveling in nostalgic bliss, might as well point this out for the benefit of Chrono Trigger fans: