Channel 4 took the unusual decision of taking two hours out of their Saturday night schedule to discuss the 25 video games which changed the world. Now it isn’t often you see anything resembling gaming appear in prime time TV, but you know if one channel were to do it, it would be Channel 4. As a gamer (and a TV watcher) this was a nice surprise to see a channel try and tap into what is a major media market.
Naturally there are always going to be blatant omissions when you try and compress over 40 years of an industry into just 25 titles. You are also naturally you are going to get games in the list which don’t feel like they belong. I’m personally not going to slag it off too much because I’m not old enough to understand the true impact of games on their release (being born in 1990), however I will comment on how I feel each game has impacted my gaming life.
Before I get onto the list (which I am going to spoil if you haven’t seen it) I will comment that the show was hosted by Charlie Brooker who is an actual gamer, which is nice to see. The problem with Brooker is that if you have seen him in one thing, then you have seen him in everything. When you see his act for the first time it comes across as fresh and different or cutting edge, when you see him in the next show you realise that he is a one trick pony. Learn some new stuff Charlie.
Anyway onto the list:
The perfect example of why I’m not truly qualified to talk about how games have changed the world and whether they deserve their place on the list. Playing Pong in the 70’s equals wow, playing Pong in the 90’s equals this is shit. There is no doubting Pong’s significance to gaming though.
24. Space Invaders
Similar to Pong, but to a lesser extent because it still stands up as a game today.
It is incredible the cultural impact that Pac-Man has had, to the extent that it is one of the most instantly recognisable images in the world. Unlike the two games that preceded it on the list and some which came after, this actually did have an impact on my life. I used to play Pac-Man mods at school instead of doing actual work, and to an even greater extent than Space Invaders still stands up incredibly well today and I would consider it to be one of the best games ever.
22. Manic Miner
I haven’t even got a clue what this game is, and don’t even know if it belongs on the list and have suspicions that it was only on the list because it was British made and was the first big hit, although as I said I’m not the best person to judge that. However you can often tell the impact of a game by its legacy, when years later people still know what it is, and this isn’t (for me anyway) one of those games.
Honestly I’ve never played this game, so couldn’t really truly comment. I do however understand the impact it had on the gaming industry to this day, so naturally it belongs on the list.
20. Super Mario Bros
What else can you say? An incredible feat, one of the greatest games series ever created and one of the longest lasting. The legacy and impact of Super Mario Bros is undoubted, and whether it be Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Super Mario 64 or so many other adaptations, this is probably the most significant franchise in gaming history.
Like so many children of the 90’s I lost many hours playing this on my Gameboy. One of those games that once again is instantly recognisable to anyone who sees it. It’s funny when I think of Tetris on the Gameboy because I’m not sure what age I was when I played it, but I remember borrowing my big cousins Gameboy for a weekend after playing it at his house and this being the game I played on it, and before I was even home I was asking my mum if she could buy me a Gameboy because I was instantly hooked, I must have been maybe 4 or 5. I can remember playing this and then letting my dad have a go, where he wasn’t even close to getting as far along as I was, which as a kid, is a huge deal. Tetris hence had a very early impact on my life.
18. The Secret of Monkey Island
Haven’t got a clue what this game is and hadn’t heard of it before this show. I understand that this is on the list for a narrative point of view, but I couldn’t really comment.
17. Street Fighter 2
Ah yes, one of my all-time favourites. I can remember the Christmas that my brother and I cracked open our first ever console (I must have been about 5) and it was a SNES bundled with Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (which I still have). Every fighter that is made now is trying to replicate what Street Fighter 2 did; even the most recent Street Fighter’s can’t really do what this game did. That unusual picture of two small boys sitting in front of a TV screen beating the shit out of each other for enjoyment, and who said computer games were bad? It is another game where I was able to best my dad in (a man who doesn’t lose deliberately) which is always a nice memory, as is beating up a car for bonus points.
It was one of two (Doom or Castle Wolfenstein) and they went for the bigger of the two, Doom. Obviously as one of the first First Person Shooters (FPS) Doom has huge significance, although again like many of the games early on the list I can’t really talk in too great a deal about the game. I do remember getting a remake in some sort of Gameboy (maybe a colour) and thinking at the time it was total shit because the graphics were rubbish and I tended to play with the sound off. Obviously now I look at this and think ‘ugh’ but we all know kids are stupid.
15. Night Trap
I get this was significant because of the introduction of video games ratings, but honestly? Even in the show they said it was absolute shit, and even though I hadn’t heard of it or played it, I can tell by seeing limited clips that it looks absolute shit. This really doesn’t belong on the list, regardless of whether it was vital to games getting ratings or not.
14. Tomb Raider
There is no doubting Tomb Raider’s significance in gaming, and although it is another game I have never actually played (there is a lot of them) putting a female in the lead role of a game is still seen as doing something risky, which is a bit embarrassing. It is odd that Tomb Raider was a big deal at the time (clear female lead), but hasn’t actually been a catalyst for more non-brown haired white men. It is easy to notice the problem, but to actually find the solution is much harder. You can probably count on one hand the amount of female leads that have impacted gaming, or to an even greater extent the amount of female leads in gaming, which is sad.
13. Parappa the Rapper
This doesn’t really belong on the list, and although you can fairly argue that this lead to games like Guitar Hero, you can’t argue the much greater impact which Guitar Hero has had in gaming. This is where the list contradicts itself a lot, they include games like Doom ahead of Wolfenstein because it sold more and is more famous despite the fact that Wolfenstein came out first, but then do the total opposite when it comes to Parappa the Rapper and Guitar Hero. I’m not denying the impact of the game, but rather the nature of how the list was made.
Never played StarCraft and have never really been into RTS’s, although apparently it’s huge in Korea, so there you go…
11. The Sims
The first game on the list which I actually played when it was released (see why I can’t really critique it fully and be fair), and trust me when I said that I played it a lot. This is going to make me sound like quite the little sadist (I must’ve been about 10-12 at the time) but my Sims never really made it to old age, and by old age I mean past a few days. I remember doing crazy stuff like making my Sim go for a swim and then taking the ladder away so he couldn’t get out and he would eventually just drown. I also remember making one where one of my brothers Sim’s came over for some reason and I got him into a room which I then had my guy set on fire before (he wasn’t good at barbecuing) letting my Sim escape and taking the door off so my brothers Sim died. I also remember making my Sim’s piss themselves because, why not? Then I would do things like have a baby, then realise babies were annoying before having the social workers come round and locking the baby in a doorless room so she couldn’t get to it. Plus who can forget the classic shower move glitch which I don’t know was ever real or if it was just a rumour that people made up to make sad children try and see their weird Sim naked. Yes I spent a lot of time playing the Sims, and I turned it reasonably well…Not that you would be able to tell from just a small selection of the crazy shit I would do to my Sims on a regular basis. Regardless of that, the Sims was huge and had wide appeal across all spectres and is deservedly on the list.
10. Grand Theft Auto 3
How can a list about how games have changed the world not include GTA 3? Not only did it start one of the most successful franchises of all time, it was also an incredible game. That memory of going over to a friend’s house after they described this game to me, followed by watching him drive round the big stadium in a tank just running over pedestrians nonchalantly as the army piled in to try and stop him. I was gob smacked, my 11 year old self couldn’t believe what he was seeing and naturally then begged my mum to buy me a copy, whilst naturally convincing her that the 18 rating was nothing to be concerned about (probably was). It wasn’t long until I would be running over my own pedestrians and killing some Mafioso’s whilst listening to Lazlo on Chatterbox (a channel I listened to so much that I was able to reproduce every single line on command). GTA 3’s open world do what the fuck you want style is so relevant to gaming today that almost every other game now follows the same formula.
9. Shadow of the Colossus
This was a weird game, because it was one that I wanted to play but for some reason never actually got round to it, it was for me one of those games that escaped me. That means once again it is hard for me to comment on the game when the reason they put it on the list was to do with the actual storyline.
8. World of Warcraft
Ah, this game dominated my life from the ages of 17-19; I don’t want to even think about the endless hours that I poured into WoW (trust me it was hundreds of days of game time, into one character). Like most people I don’t play the game anymore after realising that all your time and effort is wasted because everything basically resets after 3 months (which is a total bitch) and raiding starts to feel like a chore rather than a pleasure after a while. I bought my first laptop just so I could play this game and watch TV at the same time (genius I know). I thought Jonathan Ross’ comments about how his son and wife would play together and could bond over the game tells you everything about WoW, it is a great game that really made MMORPG’s mainstream.
7. Wii Sports
I have never even touched a Wii remote because I hate motion sensor because it is a gimmick, and when things start introducing gimmicks it isn’t a good sign. I can’t however deny the huge impact that the Wii and Wii Sports had on bringing video games to a much wider market and making them something that people who had never played a game in their life wanted to have a go at. You know when your mum says she’d quite like a Wii it isn’t a good sign.
6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
I was surprised this wasn’t Halo to be honest, but for me COD 4 was more substantial in the impact it had than Halo. Was COD 4 that good, or was it just lucky that it came out at the exact time that online gaming truly took off? I think it is a little bit of both, but there is no denying that what COD 4 did was incredibly innovative and on a much bigger scale than what came before. COD 4 also started the FPS revolution, I say revolution but what I mean is rut, and where every FPS game seem to be the exact same and every online FPS game seems to be the exact same. That isn’t COD 4’s fault because it was fresh and new, but it is hard to ignore the fact that COD now release almost the exact same online game every single year with the slightest adjustments just to get your money. That isn’t COD 4’s fault though because it undoubtedly had a huge impact, being at the front of FPS dominance and online dominance.
I have no idea what this game is and get that it is there to signify the increase of indie titles in recent years. I think Journey would have been more apt in this slot, but that’s maybe just me. I will also say that currently the indie scene is having a big impact but you have to question if that impact will seem as significant in 15 years’ time.
4. Angry Birds
The brilliance of Angry Birds is the ability to play it for a couple of minutes at a time yet not feel like you are missing out on anything by not playing it for a prolonged period of time. I can think of many times that I sat through a lecture at university and decided that time spent playing Angry Birds was better than time spent listening to the actual lecture (probably not a good idea on review). The game is so simple, yet so brilliant at the same time. Much like many of the games on the list, Angry Birds is highly accessible (which fits because the list is about games that changed the world). Angry Birds is one of those games that people who aren’t gamers would actually play because it almost doesn’t feel like an actual game (similar to Wii Sports). Plus it only costs like 59p which is an absolute bargain.
Maybe I’m missing something but I think Minecraft looks absolutely shit. Now to be fair I haven’t actually played the game properly (unless you call sabotaging my little cousin to piss her off playing the game properly), so maybe I am not the best judge of this, however the way in which the analysts talked about it makes me wonder if I’m just not getting gaming anymore. It isn’t Minecraft’s fault, but it, Braid and Angry Birds are all pretty similar indie games, which makes me wonder why so much concentration was given to recent releases when a huge chunk of excellent gaming releases were shunned.
2. The Last of Us
If you haven’t played this you think ‘why is this on the list?’ If you have played it you know why it is on the list. The Last of Us is one of the most beautiful games you will ever play, it really is that well made. Everything about it is a masterpiece, but the way that it makes you feel emotions that you didn’t think a game could make you feel is truly remarkable. Many grown men have openly admitted to crying at points in the game (I’m pretty sure I know which one) and although I’m not one of those (men in Scotland don’t cry, they just punch things, like their wives) I can totally understand why they would, this game is that damn good. The Last of Us is a move towards a different type of gaming, and I expect many games to follow suit in the coming years. The one criticism I could have is that the Walking Dead game (the Telltale one, not the rubbish one) follows a similar narrative and emotional button pressing, and was released before the Last of US. I was surprised the Walking Dead wasn’t on the list for their episodic formats because I think that this could be a significant moment as downloads are beginning to become the norm and are certainly the future. Regardless of all that I think that the Last of Us got the nod because it was a AAA feature and also had much better graphics than the Walking Dead. Either game deserves to be on the list though.
Here’s something that doesn’t deserve to be on the list. What were they thinking? I know what they are trying to argue, that social media forms are much like playing computer games, but so is collecting football stickers and quite frankly any game at all. Not only was Twitter out of chronological order, it isn’t a fucking video game. I get that they were trying to do something clever, but it has missed the mark so much it is a big fuck you to the audience that waited for number 1. I thought number 1 was going to be the Last of Us, but when it came up at 2 I became intrigued. After finding out what was number 1 I was incredibly disappointed. You could have put any old shit in there and I would have been happier, like that stupid farm game or Candy Crush, at least they are actual video games even if they are shit. Anyone who says that people who think this is a bad choice are silly because they just don’t get it, are pricks. You don’t get it, if you include Twitter why don’t you include football, Scrabble or pull a munter? The whole thing was stupid and robbed some more deserving game from being on the list.
Speaking of more deserving games, I don’t understand how they managed to make a whole list on video games without including one sports game or one driving game. They also managed to leave incredibly significant games like Metal Gear Solid, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Pokemon Red/ Blue, Mass Effect, Goldeneye, Bioshock, Resident Evil and many others probably deserved a mention but as I said you are never going to make everyone happy.
I thought on the main the contributors were pretty good, with a special shout out to Rab Florence who used to do a show in Scotland called videoGaiden which I really liked but naturally it got cancelled because gaming shows never last very long. Naturally we could have done with a bit less celebrities and a bit more insiders, but that is the way with most of these types of show. The show also struggled with pacing as it seemed to be made for non-gamers or casual gamers rather than the people who likely watched it which would be at the more hardcore end of the spectrum. I think it would also have worked better as a series rather than a one off, as this would have allowed for more time to explore what made these games so significant, but I can’t really complain.
If you are in to games it is worth watching (well from 25-2 it is) although if you have just read this whole post then I’ve clearly wasted it for you, in which case…my bad but didn’t you read the warning at the start?
Anyway, tell me what you thought of the list and what games you felt were left off which maybe deserved to be there. Plus find all the latest updates from bm23tvreviews on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading.