5. Grand Theft Auto
8. Virtua Fighter
9. Donkey Kong
10. Second Life
None of these are the best and they have all been superceded in what they can do, but each was a game changer in their own way. They each had a twist to them that changed the way people thought about video games and gaming.
Obviously PacMan started this off. It was the beginning of the end of the domination of pinball machines and the first compelling videogame that intrigued a generation. There were other games in that era that were more innovative after the fact of PacMan. The great arcade games of the day, Asteroids, Defender, Atari Football, Zaxxon, Missile Command, Galaxians and Centipede were all the greats. But PacMan was the one that showed it could be done, that video oriented electronic games could beat pinball. But it was Donkey Kong that pushed the obsession to the next level and made Nintendo the King. There was no other game that sucked down so many quarters and hours after PacMan and brought a new generation into the arcades.
It took decades, really, for pinball to give up the ghost. And it probably wasn't until the early and mid 90s with the rise of the fighting games that arcades all over America realized that the money was all about the video. Virtua Fighter was the game that took button mashing to a new era. Now I am showing my bias because Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat were the other kings of the arcade in the days when The Fugees were singing 'Mona Lisa', but the sophistication of Virtua Fighter was the game that put a third dimension into arcade fighting.
On the techie level I'd be remiss to not give honorable mention to Castle Wolfenstein but it was Doom that changed gaming on the PC and got people shooting at work. Well, if you were in the computer business. Which takes us back to Tetris, a simple, beautifully obsessive game that showed us that.. well I don't know what it showed us. How easily we could be seduced by a simulation of gravity?
Warcraft I just threw in there because I know it's big, but I never touched the thing. Most PC games, in their early incarnations just made me dizzy and gave me headaches. In fact, just watching a video of Doom makes me feel ill. It's why I stayed in the arcades and never gave much time over to PC gaming until, Myst.
This list and idea exists because of Myst, which I think more than just about any other game, completely blew away all the competition and made everybody aware of how fantastically beautiful, musically engulfing and intellectually challenging a video game could be. Myst was the siren call of the future and we knew finally that we were in a new era. Pong and PacMan were invented to keep us all seeding the market with money so that Myst could be born. Myst, single-handedly created immersion.
Grand Theft Auto was the sandbox game that proved that virtual gaming could be purposeless and sometimes it was better just to do nothing but be bad. It shifted the mind. I didn't arrive at the series until Vice City which was nowhere near as good as San Andreas, where it all got perfected, but it was GTA that made the sandbox real.
Halo made the XBox. It also marked the beginning of a universe that actually bore some reality to mature science fiction. Second Life was immersion part two. And that's about all I have to say about that.
Mario. Zelda. Tomb Raider. Final Fantasy? All kiddie garbage. I'd put the Sims in there before any of that stuff which I think is all at the level of Super Monkeyball and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Madden. Half Life. Metal Gear. Resident Evil. All honorable mention, but then I'd have to talk about Starcraft and Sin and Black & White and Civilization and whole bunch of other very good, even excellent franchises. But they didn't change the world. They just gave it flavor, and bottom line they dont make the top ten. I gave you Warcraft so get off me.
Now in the modern era of gaming, which basically means the current dominating consoles PS3, XBox360 and gaming boxes, I have some choice choices. But that's for another day.