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here we go guys … (canon)

Most Important Videogames of All Time

all over the blogosphere since that moment now, so there should be interest comments all over the place. there’s also a misleading, unresearched new york times article making the rounds – i’d skip it, but if you’re interested… nah i don’t even want to link to it.
I agree with a lot of the comments in the blogosphere more than I agree with the initial list myself. Except that I think we should all go out and play Sensible World Soccer immediately.


  1. Bob wrote:

    You know, it’s almost impossible for me to take this list seriously, considering how sloppily it deals with series of games. Why is it that the Warcraft franchise is observed in its entire, but only individual installments like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Sim City are listed by themselves? Why list Civilization I and II together, and not the whole series as a whole? Heck, even Zork had sequels!

    Also, frankly, this seems like more of a list of great computer games than video games. As far as I can see, Mario 3 is the only title there that was entirely indigenous to console gaming and never had a real life of its own outside of the NES and remakes on later Nintendo systems. I don’t recognize all the names on the list, though, so Sensible World Soccer might’ve debuted on the Genesis, for all I know.

    What I do know from years of experience watching how the Library of Congress conducts itself while inducting new classics into their collection of films is how to tell a good list of contenders from a bad one, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is baloney.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  2. Charles wrote:

    I agree. This list just doesn’t seem to capture the history of video games very well. It seems odd that they missed Adventure, possibly one of the more influential video games of all time, if for no other reason than that it inspired Zelda.

    My feeling is that it’s heavy on computer games for a very sensible reason. It helps get around the whole issue of hardware emulation, and the difficulties of negotiating copyright issues. This is something that the New York Times article hints at.

    The fact is that I’m beginning to think that a canon is just a bad idea. Though it’s much more difficult to put together, a comprehensive game genealogy would be much more valuable. I mean, these are video games we’re talking about, let’s have an electric sensibility instead of a mechnical one.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Bob wrote:

    A canon in and of itself isn’t a bad idea– it’s just the lesser of many, many evils. For a medium to be considered art, it must by necessity be judged by the same flawed standards all other media have been judged by over the years. Canons are always flawed, not because of what they take in, often, but because of what they leave out. It’s only recently in traditional visual arts that we’ve finally drifted away from the cultural elitism of overvaluing works of the Renaissance and other distant eras in order to embrace the eclectic tendencies of the 20th century. Cinema has grown from the bastard scion of photography and theater to become the dominant expressive form of the modern era, its own fluctuations of popular art and entertainment saying as much about audiences as authors– to say nothing of auteurs. Theater has gone through as many more transformations, ebbing back and forth from the improvisatory to the scripted that critics have long since stopped wondering whether theater mattered, but which form of it mattered more. Since the dawn of the novel, popular fiction has gained so much of a foothold on the imagination that we no longer make lists of the greatest works of all time, but rather the greatest works of certain eras– the medium itself no longer needs to accumulate lists of exceptional product in order to validate itself as a legitimate art form.

    Like I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the medium of gaming is going through several growing pains, not the least of which is its estimation in the popular eye. Right now there’s going to be plenty of bullshit best-of lists like this, and one can only hope that this one will grow better and more nuanced with time, recognizing more and more truly influential designers and creators each year. For a good (though equally disheartening) example, just look at the fucking Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and consider how long it took somebody like Ritchie Valens to get inducted.

    Friday, March 16, 2007 at 3:36 am | Permalink
  4. frank wrote:

    Part of the problem with this list is the process – they asked the participants to each suggest two games and then filtered out the duplicates and massaged the results. Still, it’s a useful exercise. Chris – any progress getting a poll-formatted list that we can include somewhere on this site?

    Monday, March 19, 2007 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

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