Games Worth Saving

In this article in the New York Times, Heather Chaplin focuses on the ludological aspects of which games should be preserved for future generations.   There was no mention on games which should be preserved because they told a captivating story, one which enriches the human condition.  Those which were deemed worthy of preservation were those which expanded the medium, providing new genres, conventions, and features.  While none of these things are bad, certainly great films or books are remembered not simply because they introduced new conventions to their medium.  Truly great works use these tools in meaningful ways to say something about the world that we live in.

Even if one chooses to focus only on these critical tools, why not choose the ones which truly pioneered the genres they represent? Sure, the adventure genre may not have taken off until games like Zork, but Adventure certainly predated this.  Perhaps then it is because of the fame? But I have never heard of Sensible World of Soccer.  Before there was Madden insert-current-year-here, there was Techmo Bowl.  It was was of the games which defined the sports genre.  How could it not have the requisite fame, in addition to being release in 1987, seven years before this soccer game?

What about newer games like Braid which discuss the nature of human growth and the desire to undo past mistakes? Going further back, one could reference The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which told a story so epic, the game is considered by many to be the textbook on how to make a good game.  This trend reaches back to games like Final Fantasy II, one of the first games to give the player characters pre-defined histories and personalities.  These are all examples of excellent games, but which are remembered for their storylines as well as their mechanics.

There is a brief mention of narrative under the discussion of Warcraft, but it is mentioned as if it were simply an extra feature, and not an integral new part of videogames.  If the great videogames are to be preserved, those with great narratives need to be honored as well.  It is true that these games did not come along for some time after the first video games, so perhaps we still have time before these articles of gaming history are to be catalogued.

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One Response to Games Worth Saving

  1. Rebecca says:

    I agree that perhaps some games with narrative should also be on the list, although it seems to me that the list picked games that were the most important and widely recognized of their genre. I am not too sure how successful they were, as apparently no one has heard of Sensible World of Soccer. But wikipedia says that it “featured a twenty season career mode which allowed players to manage and play as thousands of different clubs from across the globe, many of which were very obscure” which is probably why it was included, as I don’t know how many other sports games allow you to play as obscure teams (granted, I have never played a sports video game). But Super Mario Bros is most definitely a widely recognized game, and was probably chosen not only due to it’s features, but also because of it’s status as an icon of our culture.

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