I've mentioned Michael Abbot's efforts at putting together a great syllabus for his 'history of RPGs' class, which has thus far produced a flurry of discussion and a reading list; he's now put together a list of games and the number of people who have recommended them (I'm dying to know which ones will make the final cut). He does mention a few key points:
Games like X-Com and Zelda: Ocarina of Time clearly stretch the definition of "RPG." Many respondents argued these titles illustrate how great games have effectively incorporated RPG elements into other genres like strategy or adventure games. This makes sense to me. Given the short time I have available to me (one semester), I will try to illustrate these influences as best I can without veering too far off the RPG track.
... While it's very interesting for me to consider how many people recommend game X over game Y, ultimately this project isn't an RPG popularity contest, and I must choose a collection of games that best serve my pedagogical goals.
It is interesting to look at both the spread of games and how many votes certain games garnered (Chrono Trigger tops the list); it'll be interesting to see what makes the final cut.
RPG Syllabus - the data [The Brainy Gamer]