During GDC, a team of game designers sat down for a chat to discuss the games which inspired such luminaries as Will Wright, Cliff Bleszinski, Sid Meier, and John Romero.
Here's the list per Gamasutra:
- Will Wright - Pinball Construction Set: "It was an amazingly powerful set of tools."
- Sid Meier - Seven Cities of Gold: "Seven Cities of Gold was the first game that I think I played that had this random map concept in it. In terms of replayability, there's nothing like a random map to cause you to play a game again and again."
- Cliff Bleszinski -The Legend of Zelda: "Nothing is more personal for me than The Legend of Zelda. I fell in love with Nintendo. This was my first true love."
- John Romero - Pac-Man: "Everyone back then got used to seeing games in black and white. And then one day in 1980...I used to go with my parents to the bowling alley...I saw Pac-Man, and that was a real color game."
You can read in full what each had to say regarding their inspiration through the link.