This isn’t about the best or most-cherished video games, but rather the ones that are most important to the industry and the people who play. I don’t even really count in that latter category, I’m a noob. The following is just from the top of my head, with some quick Wikipedia research to make sure I didn’t get any facts incorrect.
- Super Mario Brothers, NES, 1985. No explanation needed, I think.
- Wolfenstein 3D, DOS, 1992. Unleashed the first-person shooter. You can see a direct progression from here to current blockbusters like the Call of Duty series. Chosen over Doom, Halo.
- Myst, Mac, 1993. Gorgeous graphics, a good story, and the freedom to set your own pace.
- StarCraft, Windows, 1998. Exceptional realtime strategy for both single players and network play. It’s a professional sport, for chrissakes. Chosen over Command & Conquer, World of WarCraft.
- Pokémon, Game Boy, 1998. Spawned an empire, even before the versions where you could breed them.
- Guitar Hero, PS2, 2005. When video games began to cross over into real life, both in the means of control but also in something relatable to everyone. Chosen over Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution.
- Angry Birds, iOS, 2009. Surely this is the most important casual game of all time. There’s a reason every modern platform (including the Internet) has a native version.
- Early arcade titles like Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Centipede. I’ll just admit I’m too young to understand how much of an impact these had when they were released.
- Oregon Trail, Apple II, 1978. Important now because of the heavy nostalgia factor. Did anyone really learn history from this, or did we all just shoot buffalo?
- Sierra On-Line series. King’s Quest, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry are all legendary franchises (and collectively an important part of gaming history) but I don’t know if one single game stands out. Chosen over Zork series, Rogue.
- Madden NFL. Again, another franchise that I think is incredibly relevant for its lasting success, but without a specific outstanding installment. Chosen over NBA Jam.
- Tetris, Game Boy, 1989. There were no characters (except faceless Russians maybe) but it was still fun, challenging, and accessible.
- Grand Theft Auto 3, PS2, 2001. The first mainstream scapegoat game for the corruption of our youth, and a revolution in the open sandbox world.
- Wii Sports, Wii, 2006. How many Wii owners never bought a game and just played the included title? Chosen over Mario Party series, anything for the Kinect.
- Passage, PC, 2007. Introduced dumb dumbs like me to the idea of video games as art.
If you could only choose one, which would it be? Please tell me on Twitter.
Also tell me if I overlooked something, if I gave too much credence to one or not enough to another, or if you have any good jokes. This was mostly an exercise in curiosity and taking advantage of the savants who furiously edit Wikipedia articles about subjects so dear to their hearts.