GodisaGeek’s Top 10 Game Changers in Gaming History

by on December 6, 2010

If you think back over the last 20 or so years it’s easy to see that we’ve come a long way in a very short amount of time, from text adventures with no graphics at all to games with graphics so realistic the equipment we have isn’t good enough to even display them yet. There are some games, however, over that period of time that have led the charge into the unknown, they have helped to cut down the foliage which was standing in the way of true innovation, without some of these games the video game industry that we all know and love would look very different.

Before I start on my top 10 list I want you all to know that this is a list based on my personal experiences with the games industry. You might have your own list and you might not agree with mine at all, but at the end of the day…this is my opinion about what games have forged the way we see games today.

10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial & PacMan – The infamous North American video game crash of 1983…

The games industry as we know it has not always been so concise. As it stands at the moment there are three major contenders Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft with, in the past, Sega and Atari being a part of that pantheon too. Before the 1983 video game crash everyone wanted a slice of the pie and there were a plethora of games systems available for all price ranges. The crash was inevitable and while it’s not really a good thing it did lead to things we take for granted now, manufacturer control, Nintendo’s Seal of Quality and a well managed industry, just to name a few.

9. Gran Turismo – Realistic driving games…

It might seem like ancient history now but back in 1997 Gran Turismo burst onto the scene and was widely accepted as the pinnacle of realistic gaming. Especially for the home console market anyway. Without the success of Gran Turismo back on the original PlayStation we wouldn’t have had Project Gotham Racing, Forza Motorsport and a whole host of other driving simulator games which continue to remain popular. The fifth iteration of the Gran Turismo franchise has just been released and is currently enjoying a top spot in the UK charts proving that, 13 years after the originals release, the franchise is still going strong.

8. Tomb Raider/Metal Gear Solid – Video game narrative and storytelling…

Before Tomb Raider came out for the PlayStation in 1996 there were very few games which told an actual story from beginning to end. Sure there were a few dotted around but none that were as immersing as Lara Croft’s first outing. The style of storytelling that Tomb Raider started can still be seen to this day in games such as Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and it’s sequel. As someone who loves this style of gameplay I often find myself thankful that Tomb Raider was able to break the mold and create this new lineage of narrative based gameplay.

Just as Tomb Raider changed the way that a video game’s story was told, Metal Gear Solid changed the way in which that story was displayed to the player by more or less starting the cinematic style of gameplay it’s so famous for. For the first time that I remember I felt that I was playing a character in a film instead of a video game. Some of my fondest memories of early gaming comes from Metal Gear Solid and it’s well thought out storyline. At a time when most home console games were just trying to be arcade games Hideo Kojima and his team really went above and beyond.

7. Bejeweled 2/Angry Birds – The advent of casual gaming…

In 2001 PopCap Games released a browser based game called Diamond Mine, this game would later become known as Bejeweled and would essentially start the casual game craze that’s still going on to this day. For once a video game was accessible to everyone who wanted to play it and, because it was browser based, all that was needed to play was a computer with internet access, which just about everybody had by 2001. PopCap Games have had massive success with a few other games targeted at the casual audience but none have lived up to Bejeweled in most people’s eyes. The first will always be the best.

Just like Bejeweled made browser games accessible to people of all ages and technological know-how, Angry Birds did the same for smart phone gaming. Having been released on just about all mobile platforms that can support the touch screen input method, Angry Birds is available to a massive amount of people. The cheap price point makes it accessible to all and the addictive gameplay mechanics keep them coming back for more. I can’t even count the amount of times people, who wouldn’t normally play games, have asked me “Have you played Angry Birds?” or “What’s your score on Angry Birds?”.

Casual gaming might be here to stay but I’ve still yet to get used to it.

6. Wii Sports – Gaming for all the family…

When Nintendo changed the name of the Revolution to Wii, I laughed. When they then said that the console was intended to get entire families playing games together I laughed again. Nothing they said could help me imagine my entire family staying in the same room long enough to play a game together. Sure enough, however, when we got the Nintendo Wii we did play some games together on special occasions and Nintendo has managed to bring families together during the holidays, despite what people such as myself thought. The recent release of Microsoft’s Kinect and PlayStation’s Move has a lot to thank Nintendo for.

It doesn’t seem to be going away soon either.

5. Street Fighter II/Halo 2 – The rise of competitive gaming…

Some of my first memories of gaming involves going into an arcade, putting 10p on the Street Fighter II arcade machine and claiming the next go against the current opponent. “Back in the day” this was the only way to play competitively, the winner stayed on and played against whoever was the next person in line to have put a 10p coin down. This was during those glorious times when you could hit someone in the mouth for back chatting during a game. Ah, simpler times, and no doubt the spawning point for competition based gameplay. Street Fighter tournaments are still used today to test players’ gaming prowess and I’m sure it will be a staple for a long time yet.

Just as Street Fighter II started competitive gameplay, Halo 2 was probably that game that rocketed online multiplayer to the success it’s enjoying at the moment. Especially with first person shooters anyway. If it wasn’t for Halo 2 I have no problem in assuming that games like the Call of Duty franchise wouldn’t be as popular as it currently is. Even now Call of Duty: Black Ops is sitting in second place in the UK charts after being in the top position since it came out November 9th 2010, only being beaten this week by Gran Turismo 5.

4. Doom – The start of mainstream first person shooters…

Talking about Halo 2, and first person shooters in general, I’d be shot at dawn if I forgot to mention the game that arguably brought the genre to the mainstream. Doom came out in 1993 and was almost instantly recognised as a game that would change the industry, in some cases making it stronger by forging a new path through the field of possibilities and in other cases by making it stronger by bringing it closer together when it was targeted by the mainstream media as a possible reason for some horrendous acts of human violence.

3. Grand Theft Auto – The one where open world/sandbox gaming was created…

Grand Theft Auto came out in 1997 for the PlayStation and PC and, like Doom, was met with widespread recognition. On one hand DMA Design (now Rockstar North) had created an open world where the player was free to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, which had never been seen before on this scale. On the other hand, however, the Grand Theft Auto was given an 18 certification rating by the BBFC in the UK which guaranteed that a lot of gamers wouldn’t even see the game as it tended not to be placed on shelves where most people would look.

2. Space Invaders – Bringing the arcade to the masses…

If there was one game in the history of arcades that brought gaming to the mainstream audience it would be Space Invaders. There’s been many ports, remakes, and ports of remakes but there’s nothing quite like the original arcade machine. If you ever get a chance to play on one, don’t pass it up. It’s like being transported back through time. Oh, and don’t bother attempting the high score, there’s been over 30 years over people trying to beat their friends high score by now. You haven’t got a chance.

1. World of Warcraft – The one where game become massive and get multiplayer….and online too!

World of Warcraft, the game that re-defined gaming addiction and brought the massively multiplayer online game to the forefront of popular culture. Personally, I’ve put months of game time into WoW and I’m not ashamed to admit it (OK, maybe a little), but that’s the pull of Blizzard’s masterpiece, giving the player a little piece at a time but ultimately guiding them towards the bigger picture. Many companies have attempted to recreate the same effect, but none of them have succeeded. With Blizzard just about to release (or just released, depending on when you’re reading this) the third expansion for World of Warcraft they’re showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Honourable Mentions:

This is the section of my list that holds all the games that I thought deserved mentioning but wouldn’t fit into the Top 10 list. If I was allowed to have a Top 13 list all these games would be in there but I can’t so here they are:

Zork – It’s like a story, in your mind…

Half Life 2 – I’m pretty sure 2 Half Life’s is a Full Life. Isn’t that how game’s work?…

Super Mario Bros. – Let’s do the Mario!…

As an added bonus for those people that managed to get to the end of my very exhaustive list, here’s the trailer for one of the < sarcasm> best video game movies ever made < /sarcasm>.

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