When my wife saw the cover of the September issue of PC Gamer magazine, which I am still getting thanks to the failure of The Official World of Warcraft Magazine (read about that trail of tears), she said she could see a blog post in the making.
She actually reads the blog and knows me better than I imagine.
You see, the cover was taken up with a giant graphic announcing that this issue included PC Gamer’s staff picks for the Top 100 PC Gamed of ALL TIME.
And as any long time reader knows, I love me a good list. Or a bad list. Or any sort of arbitrary ranking.
I love when a group decides to pull out some select number of items and declares them the best, most influential, or otherwise notable. It says so much about the people who make the list, and about myself when I disagree with the choices.
And I always disagree with at least a few of the choices. Whether it is games that defined the Apple II games or Ten Ton Hammer listing out the Top Ten PvP MMOs, I always find something to complain about. Such lists are an argument waiting to happen, but in a fun way. Viewed correctly, such a list at least makes you think and look for the reasoning.
Of course, the first pass through the list was to search for my chosen genre, MMORPGs. The first thing my wife asked was, “Is World of Warcraft on the list?” followed quickly by, “And what about ‘Jacked up and good to go?'” a reference to the original StarCraft and probably how much I played it back in the day, given that she remembers it more than a decade down the road.
The first MMO on the list was EVE Online in 12th position, which is where the title of this post comes from.
The second was World of Warcraft, close behind in the 15th slot. Not a bad showing for MMOs in the top 25% of the list I guess. One fantasy based MMO and one science fiction, which also happen to be, perhaps not accidentally, the two big hold-outs in the subscription versus F2P struggle.
And after that… nothing. That was it for MMOs. No EverQuest, no Ultima Online. The early champions of the genre were left out and nobody else was worthy.
Well, I suppose if you are going to make a list from PC games of ALL TIME and limit it to 100, prime candidates are bound to get left on the cutting room floor.
So I started browsing through the list, checking titles and dates to get something like the flavor of the list, to see if I could spot any sort of trend.
My initial gut reaction was that most of the games on the list were pretty recent in terms of PC games of ALL TIME. There were some entries from the latter half of the 90s, with a special spot set aside for Doom and Secret of Monkey Island. But those were the two oldest games on the list, and they stood out because their age.
I compare this to Time Magazine’s attempt at a Top 100 Video Games of All Time list, which wasn’t even limited to the PC, but included consoles and arcade games. And in that they managed to find room for titles from the 70s and 80s. But then they left Minecraft off the list.
My first reaction was that the staff was probably much younger than I… a surprising number of people are these days… and that the prime formative period of their gaming psyche came about in the mid-to-late 90s. They might never have played Seven Cities of Gold or the original Wasteland.
My second reaction was that perhaps we were working with different definitions. For me “PC” means personal computer, and it a generalized thing that includes everything in my personal timeline from the Timex Sinclair 1000 to my current 64-bit Win7 box, and quite a few side paths along the way, including a series of Mac OS machines.
But to a lot of people, “PC” probably means Windows box, something that has been reinforced by both Apple and Microsoft in recent history. So if I read “Top 100 PC Games” as “Top 100 Windows Games,” the list makes a little more sense. In the timeline of Windows, the less said about things before 1990, the better.
In that context, I suppose the list makes more sense, as Windows games only start coming into their own with Windows 95, which brings us to the late 90s and blah blah blah.
Then again, I could be overthinking this… a common issue for me… and it might be that the team that did the list just thinks newer games are better. That seemed to be the point of view with Complex Gaming and their Top 50 list, a list which put EVE Online in the #1 spot. It certainly fits the “complex” side of the equation.
I would like to link to the list so that you could read it yourself, but it appears to be a print edition only feature. It made for a dramatic cover that no doubt got a few people to pick up a copy. And I am sure that they would not appreciate it if typed out the list myself. But I will leave you with their top five games.
I suppose the first choice isn’t a huge surprise. They justified it well and frankly liked it for all the right reasons; scope, freedom, mods, replayability. The next three are probably not very controversial. I haven’t touched any of the Mass Effect games, but you can hardly be any kind of a gamer and have not heard people going on about them. I have played through Half-Life 2 and spent a bit of time with Team Fortress 2, but they are not really my thing. (And HL2 plus Garry’s Mod made for one of the best video game based comics ever.)
And then there is Deus Ex, which I really have no recollection of at all. It was apparently quite a thing and I missed it completely. But it came out when I was still absorbed with EverQuest the first time around, as well as Diablo II, StarCraft, and a few other games I would consider classics. We can’t get them all. There are only so many hours in the day. Heck, just the other day a co-worker admitted to me that he had never seen The Wizard of Oz. I am not sure our culture makes sense without having seen that.
Anyway, another list examined. I await the next one.