The end of a decade looms. I succumbed to the irresistible lure of making a ranked list video chronicling the best games of that decade. I made the first decision instantaneously: for 10 years, I’d pick 10 games. Then I froze. How would I pick the 10 games? Days later, I’d somehow made a 50-minute video.
You can look back on a decade a million ways. I could make a list of the most important games. Then I face the challenge of deciding what defines importance. I could play historian, and make a list of games that pioneered the trends that ruled the decade. Or I could play prophet, and make a list of games that I predict will impact the next decades.
Or I could just pick the 10 games I like the most.
Or I could pick the 10 games that meant the most to me personally.
One thing I definitely didn’t want to do was pick the best game of each year of the decade. What if I liked two games from one year twice as much as I liked one game from another year?
Knowing myself too well, I knew that if I didn’t compose my list quickly and then stick to it throughout the writing process, I couldn’t guarantee its quality.
So I laid in my bedroom for one hour, in darkness and silence, during which I recalled every game I’d played over the course of this decade. When one hour was up, I returned to my laptop and typed the names of 29 games I believed qualified for “greatness,” by one or more of the loopy criteria I’d laid out above.
Now it was time to rank the 29 games.
I set a timer for 10 minutes. By the end of the 10 minutes, whichever 10 games were on the top would be my list. I would not allow myself to change it.
In invocation of the 2010s’ off-the-cuff livestreaming zeitgeist, I then allowed myself no more than 10 minutes to type my justifications for each game on my list.
I proceeded to rip this decade off like a Band-Aid.
I discussed each of the games’ relevance and decade-worthiness from a personal perspective, and from the perspective of a game designer—my occupation for the majority of this decade. For example, Flappy Bird is on my list, because many people I knew who didn’t own any video game consoles got hooked on it. Also, sinister guys in bad suits with more money in the trunks of their cars than I’ll ever have in a single bank account came to me several times that year asking if I could make them “Something like that Flappy Bird game. It’s making $50,000 a day!” I told all of them that “I don’t think you could get the guy who made Flappy Bird to make you a game like Flappy Bird.”
They paid me anyway, and so I ate non-frozen vegetables for a couple weeks at a time for a period that lasted almost a year.
So there’s a bad game on my list. And it’s not there ironically. It’s there because it’s important, and also because I love it. I go into some detail about the game’s design as well.
The rest of the entries on my list are less mind-bending. Looking at the list now, I think, “Wow. What a reasonable, measured, well-argued list.”
Though because I love making things hard for myself, after I’d finished recording the voiceover for my video I asked you all on Twitter to remind me of some games I might not have thought of. The endless sequence of replies burned and owned me. How could I have neglected so many phenomenal games?
It turns out that in order to properly send off the 2010s, I would have had to make a video about [consults calculator] 87 hours long. I didn’t have time for that. And besides, this video is better than that one would be, because it came straight from a singular moment in my heart.
See you again in 2029! Who knows? Maybe one of the 100 best games of the 2020s will be VR.
Also! If you personally liked, commented, and / or subscribed to our YouTube channel, that would definitely fuel my habit of making a lot more videos like this. I promise you might love it.