It seems rare the opportunity to relate wrestling and video games together, but thanks to a recent Times article that chance has come. The article talks about a group trying to preserve video game history, so they have declared the “Game canon” – in short, the ten most important video games of all time.
Now, when you step up and declare something like the most important games of all time you’re just asking for a huge debate…and this is no different. But as it goes, here are the then they have chosen:
- Spacewar! (1962)
- Star Raiders (1979)
- Zork (1980)
- Tetris (1985)
- SimCity (1989)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)
- Civilization I/II (1991)
- Doom (1993)
- Warcraft series (beginning 1994)
- Sensible World of Soccer (1994)
Now the burning question is what criteria was used to determine if a game was worthy of canonning?
Almost all of the games on the…list represent the beginning of a genre still vital in the video game industry
That criteria alone combined with the selected list is enough to debate on for years. Any good gamer that knows their history can easily come up with a dozen arguments against each of these picks. Where I will pick my bone is the criteria that the game “began” an genre.
That’s all fine and dandy and worthy of praise, but just because a game started a genre/fad does not make that game culturally significant within the context of videogames. Sure, it might have started an avalanche, but that doesn’t mean everyone gives credit where credit is due (just ask Tesla).
While I respect those that invented things, I tend to favor what I’ll call The Hulkamania Significance Theory. Hulk Hogan was not the first professional wrestler, nor was he a particularly good wrestler, but his impact is far reaching. You can walk up to most people and mention his name and they’ll know he is some sort of wrestler, even if they are not a fan. That is impact that makes a difference. Plus, the impact is still referenced to this date and continues to milk us all for regular cash tributes. Much like Nirvana…they didn’t create grunge, but they were the ones chosen to ignite that genre.
And thus I submit that for my arguments for and against the games list above. It’s probably easy to start naming games that should be in there, but I will first start by looking at a few choice picks.
Zork. Zork was a text-based RPG-ish game that could be credited for starting the RPG genre. However, I say The Legend of Zelda should take this honor. Why? Because Zelda reached a far wider audience than Zork and still ranks high amongst the mass populous’ list of all-time best games. Zelda went beyond the nerds. It got early gamers, old gamers, boys, and girls. I won’t argue Zork’s place in history, but Zelda’s impact reaches far beyond Zork.
Doom. Any good gamer was playing Wolfenstein 3D way before Doom was even a possibility. But Doom made the difference because it had everything we wanted in Wolf3D but didn’t get. Modem-play being one of those features. So here, a case when the genre-inventor was not picked — Doom truly fits the theory.
Super Mario Bros. 3. Per the article, SMB3 is important because of its “nonlinear play” and “the ability to move both backward and forward.” I will not argue the game’s place on the list because the fanfare around the game was amazing (remember The Wizard?). But to say it offered nonlinear play is…eh…kinda weak. It had more nonlinear than some games of the time, but it didn’t feel nonlinear when you were playing. Zelda had more nonlinear-ness if you ask me. And the ability to move forward and back was Metroid’s claim to fame, sorry. Case closed.
Sensible Soccer. I was never a big sports game player, so I really can’t say much on the validity of this title on the list. But what I can tell you is that as a non-sports gamer, the games that made a difference to me in that genre were Tecmo Bowl, Blades of Steel, and RBI Baseball.
Otherwise, I don’t have many problems with the other games on the list. Each is very important and made a huge impact. Well, Spacewar! didn’t have a popularity impact, but it was, by all rights, the first video game.
Now let’s move on to what is NOT on the list. I can only imagine the debates between the selection committee for picking the first 10 that belong on the list. I can only assume that more games will be chosen every year, but we’ll see.
Anyway, the games not making the count that really could/should:
- Space Invaders
- The Legend of Zelda
- Street Fighter 2
- Mortal Kombat
- Tomb Raider
- Rad Racer
- Donkey Kong
- Madden Football
I wouldn’t doubt that each of those was in the earlier pool of picks, they are all valuable for different things. I won’t discuss them yet, as I’m more apt to wait until the next list inductees are declared and then see how far off I was…or until someone makes some other stupid list that I can argue…