I remember receiving wasted pieces of paper when I was a child in elementary school. Teachers handing out lists and lists of books they felt should be read and understood (without any professional guidance) to prepare us for the literary challenges of the upcoming year. Yeah right, like I’m going to spend my only quarter of freedom reading, of all thing. To be fair, now that I’m an adult, I love to read and do it as often as I can.
Ostensibly, the reading lists were used to develop your reading skills throughout our formative years, with books getting (arguably) increasingly difficult as you advanced through the grades. These lists were filled with some of the more “classic” examples of literature, appropriate to the grade level. As an adult, that list of books grows exponentially, containing practically every important written works since the beginning of time. Dante’s Inferno, The Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, A Farewell To Arms, these are a modicum of the work that one must read to attain a glimpse at the evolution of written work since the beginning of time. All important, and all must be read to understand literature fully and completely.
Having listened to a GDC edition of the Giant Bombcast, the idea of “Summer Reading Lists” popped up in discussion. Which brought me to wonder about a “Playing List” for gamers and what would be the purpose of one. There are several retro gamers on Gamer Limit, myself not included, that would love to see a list dating back to Pong, and including every important game in history. This is a more “Know Your History” approach to the subject, and is totally acceptable, although it would make the list much, much longer than I feel it needs to be.
To take a step back, what would be the purpose of the list? To bring new gamers up to speed on what we’re doing at the moment? To provide a telescope view of Gaming’s history as a whole? To showcase each innovation, per game, since the inception of the game on video? Depending on the objective, each list can potentially turn out drastically different.
Personally, the non-initiated looking to get into gaming, probably don’t need to know about every single game that we’ve played. It might be neat for them to go back once they’ve gotten an understanding of what we’re currently up to at the moment and see what we did 10 or 15 years ago, it probably wouldn’t help them in any enjoyable sense to have them start where we started, as those games aren’t really relevant to what we’re doing at the moment.
Refining your skills in Contra won’t help you understand how it ultimately lead to Gears of War, and the single plane shooting of Doom would just seem like a pocket version of what was to become Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3. As such, why would one need to play Halo (aside from story purposes of course) when there’s a bigger, better, prettier version of it to be found on current consoles.
Of course the golden age gamers can argue, “Hey! The original Halo is superior in every way to Halo 3!” To some extent they’re, right, but stick the two on a metaphorical vacuum and Halo is just an old version of Halo. Similarly, condemning new players to a month in Everquest before they can step up to WoW is an exercise in cruelty.
Older games that are still relevant probably would make the list. Starcraft is still a surprisingly relevant RTS, and a lot of people would still argue that Chrono Trigger is still the greatest RPG to this day, and for the most part, they’re right. Something like Metal Gear Solid would be up for debate, as the real draw to the game is it’s narrative.
Honestly, I myself am not completely sure about what should be on the final list, but you guys can certainly help me get an idea for what you would want on the list. Let me know in the comments section.