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    64 important games from video game history

    I'm currently eight weeks into teaching a Writing course at Boston University on the topic of "Playing Games: How Video Games Work and What They Mean." It's been a real pleasure: it's fun for me to be teaching a new course topic, and the students have been approaching the course material with enthusiasm. Recently, I discussed the concept of historical analysis: analyzing video games based how they "fit" into the context of a developing timeline of games. This gave me the opportunity to cobble together a list of about 40 games that I considered "historically important." I posted this list to Facebook and immediately my Facebook friends began to kick it around, finding blind spots and omissions, and then I released it to my students and invited them to provide me with a second round of confrontations and challenges. Yesterday, I took the different suggestions that I got and revisited the list, expanding it into a list of 64 games that look pretty close to "canonical." Here's the list, along with my justifications:

      64 Important Games From Video Game History version 2.0

    1. 1961     Spacewar, first digital game / first shooter / first two-player game

    2. 1971     Oregon Trail, landmark educational game (designed in 1971, produced in 1974, re-released in 1985, 1992, 2001, 2008, and 2009)

    3. 1972     Pong, first commercially-successful arcade game / first sports simulation, also first digital game released for the home market (1975)

    4. 1974     Gran Trak 10, first racing game

    5. 1976     [Colossal Cave] Adventure, first adventure game

    6. 1976     Breakout, landmark arcade game

    7. 1977     Night Racer, first first-person racing game

    8. 1978     Space Invaders, first commercially-successful shoot-em-up (160,000 copies sold)

    9. 1978     Atari Football, landmark sports simulation game

    10. 1979     Asteroids, landmark shoot-em-up

    11. 1979     Adventure, first action-adventure game

    12. 1980     Zork, landmark text adventure game

    13. 1980     Space Panic, first platformer

    14. 1980     Pac-Man, landmark arcade game (350,000 units sold)

    15. 1980     Rogue, early graphical adventure game

    16. 1981     Donkey Kong, landmark platformer (60,000 units sold), also the first game to tell a complete (embedded) narrative

    17. 1982     Pole Position, landmark racing game

    18. 1983     Intellivision World Series Baseball, first 3-D sports simulation, also the first sports simulation to use multiple camera angles to emphasize action

    19. 1983     Ultima III, landmark PC role-playing game

    20. 1983     Lode Runner, landmark platformer, plus an early game permitting the creation of user-generated levels

    21. 1983     Pinball Construction Set, an early game permitting the creation of user-generated content

    22. 1984     Tetris, landmark abstract puzzle game

    23. 1985     Gauntlet, landmark multi-player game

    24. 1985     Super Mario Bros., landmark 2-D side-scrolling platformer (forty million copies sold)

    25. 1986     Air Warrior, first multi-player online game with graphics

    26. 1987     Earl Weaver Baseball, landmark sports simulation

    27. 1987-8    Street Fighter / Street Fighter II, landmark one-on-one competitive fighting games

    28. 1987     The Legend of Zelda, landmark adventure game, also the first home cartridge to permit saving, also a good early example of a game which permitted non-linear play

    29. 1989     SimCity, landmark developer simulation

    30. 1990     Microsoft Solitaire, landmark casual game

    31. 1990     Minesweeper, landmark casual / puzzle game

    32. 1990     John Madden Football, landmark sports simulation

    33. 1991     Civilization, landmark turn-based strategy game

    34. 1991     Neverwinter Nights, first multi-player online role-playing game to display graphics

    35. 1991     Final Fantasy IV, landmark console role-playing game

    36. 1991     Myst, landmark adventure game (six million copies sold)

    37. 1992     Wolfenstein 3-D, first commercially-successful first-person shooter

    38. 1992     Mortal Kombat, landmark fighting game

    39. 1992     The Incredible Machine, early physics game

    40. 1992     Dune II, first real-time strategy game

    41. 1993     Doom, landmark first-person shooter, also a good early example of an open-source game

    42. 1995     Command and Conquer, landmark real-time strategy game

    43. 1996     Quake, landmark first-person shooter, also a good early example of a game utilizing an online multiplayer mode

    44. 1996     Super Mario 64, landmark 3-D platformer (eleven million copies sold)

    45. 1996     Resident Evil, first survival horror game

    46. 1996-8     Pokemon Red / Pokemon Blue, landmark RPG (eight million copies sold), also a good early example of a game with innovative multiplayer mechanics

    47. 1997     Lego Island, first open-world game

    48. 1997     Ultima Online, landmark multi-player online role-playing game (250,000 subscribers)

    49. 1998     Dance Dance Revolution, landmark rhythm game / exercise game

    50. 1998     Half-Life, landmark first-person shooter (eight million copies sold), also a landmark example of an open-source game

    51. 1998     Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, first commercially-successful tactical shooter

    52. 1998     Metal Gear Solid, first commercially-successful stealth game

    53. 1998     Starcraft, landmark real-time strategy game

    54. 1999     Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, landmark extreme sports simulation

    55. 1999-2000    Counter-Strike, landmark mod, also a game making central use of online multiplayer technology

    56. 2001     Bejeweled, landmark puzzle / casual game

    57. 2001     Gran Turismo 3, landmark racing game

    58. 2001     Grand Theft Auto III, landmark open-world game

    59. 2002     The Sims, landmark life-simulation game (sixteen million copies sold), plus a game making central use of user-generated content

    60. 2003     Diner Dash, landmark time-management game

    61. 2004     Halo 2, landmark in online console gaming (four million subscribers)

    62. 2004     World of Warcraft, landmark multi-player online role-playing game (over eleven million subscribers)

    63. 2005     Guitar Hero, landmark rhythm game

    64. 2006     Wii Sports, landmark sports simulation (forty-five million copies sold)

    Comments and argumentation welcome!

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    Wednesday, October 14, 2009
    9:42 AM


    To expand on #15, Rogue: two of the features which made it so innovative were its influences from RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons -- permadeath and randomly generated levels. Hence experience gains you general knowledge of the game but doesn't ensure predictability. It's a good example of how better computing power really changed gaming, because all of a sudden you could have finite skills x infinite "boards".
    Proceudral generation <3 <3 <3
    curious if you forgot about Wizardry, or just decided you already had enough RPG milestones.
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