Earlier today, The Times published what it hoped would be an esteemed list, an evergreen piece setting in stone what the paper considered the “20 best video games of all time”.
Putting the list together was an “expert jury”, and I use quotation marks there only because it’s their exact words, not because I’m patronising them. It’s a good cross-section of voices! There’s Charlie Brooker, better known these days as the creator of Black Mirror, but who also worked for a very long time as a games critic. There’s Lucy Prebble, a writer on Succession and co-creator of I Hate Suzie. Rounding out the team are YouTuber DanTDM and journalist Helen Lewis.
Their collective output is not what you’d expect from these kind of lists, and as a result is getting torn apart online. There’s so much vitriol that I’m not even going to bother pasting some highlights.Just imagine some nerds very angry at someone else’s subjective opinion, many calling it “the worst” such example of this work they’d ever seen, and you’ll be 99% of the way there. Much of the criticism centres around the fact the list doesn’t include a single Zelda game, while others are chippy about the fact that games like Far Cry 4 and Sonic Adventure 2 made the cut.
How did Far Cry 4 make the list over, say, Link to the Past? Lewis writes “Any game where you can hang-glide over a waterfall is fine by me”. And you know what? She’s right! That ruled! And if that makes it one of her favourite games of all time, then it deserves a spot on a list she helped make.
I can’t believe I’m having to say this in 2023, I thought we had collectively gotten past this, but since we clearly haven’t let me spell it out clearly: this is their list. They can put whatever they want on it! I’m a long-serving, professional games critic, and my list would include shit like FIFA 98 and, if I was feeling particularly frisky that day, Gregory Horror Show.
And I’d be right to, because it was my list! I think the more personal the ranking the better, it shows you’ve put some genuine heart and consideration into things, instead of just jotting down the same tired old classics, either because you’re too scared of negative feedback or have never played a more interesting video game than Metroid Prime.
You can read the full (paywalled) ranking here, if you want to see why Skyrim is 17th, how Civ V beat Halo and why Super Mario Odyssey made it over Mario Kart. And if you disagree, please, feel free to go and publish your own ranking.