People tend to age-out of video games. “I played games growing up,” is a common refrain among my generation. “And at some point I fell off.”
Can you imagine someone saying, “I read books growing up, and at some point I fell off.”? That would be ridiculous. The same applies to television or film or any other artistic medium. “What can I say? I just stopped watching all movies around college.” What?! Let’s fix this sorry state of affairs.
Whether you used to play games or haven’t ever, you should play all 10 games on this list.
'Gone Home' is a testament to the versatility of video games. It's a narrative-focused game that tells the very personal story of a family in the American Pacific Northwest. There are no enemies, no timers, no points. It's a perfect Saturday morning game, playable on most modern computers (Mac and PC), that can be completed in time for a delicious lunch. 'Gone Home' is like a great short story, but it's more interactive and visually engaging.
While 'Gone Home' is a testament to the versatility of games, 'Portal' is a criticism of the tropes of the medium. It takes simple, widely accepted game concepts (like a reliable narrator, or distinct 'levels') and blows them apart. It's a game full of surprises. It's also mercifully brief -- another game that can be played easily on a free weekend morning or broken up among several after-work evenings.
'The Last of Us' is to the medium of video games as 'The Walking Dead' is to the medium of television. It's a heart-wrenching tale of humanity that plays out in a post-apocalyptic United States, focused more on what becomes of human society than what caused the downfall of civilisation.
WARNING: 'The Last of Us' is complex to control and requires a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 to play.
'Minecraft' is virtual Legos, and that's amazing. It's immediately evident why the game is so popular: you can explore, destroy, and create, all within your own custom world. Business Insider's Matt Weinberger spent a weekend playing the game with his young nephews and came away mesmerised. There is no story in 'Minecraft' other than the story you create on your own. It's a digital sandbox, in the purest sense of the term, and one that's worth your time regardless of your age group.
Have you been playing '2048' on your phone? 'Threes!' is where the game '2048' derives from -- an unfortunate free version of a charming puzzle game. But that's not what's important here: What's important here is that you play 'Threes!,' preferably with the sound on as to enjoy all the delightful little noises made by its characters. Which are numbers. 'Threes!' is the most addictive puzzle game I've ever played, but it never makes you feel stupid and it never feels like you're wasting time.
You can get Threes! on iPhone and Android.
'Super Mario World' is colourful, cheerful, fun, and challenging. 'Super Mario World' may be the best game created in the past 50 years. It's certainly the best Super Mario game. Its levels are expertly designed and easily appreciated by even the most rookie player. It's the most direct expression of Nintendo's prowess in video games -- the Nintendo equivalent of Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.'
The sheer scope of 'Grand Theft Auto 5' is impressive unto itself. On the surface, 'Grand Theft Auto 5' -- like all other 'Grand Theft Auto' games -- is a stereotype-driven criticism of modern American culture. Just below that surface is a complex world of systems that intersect in fascinating ways. If nothing else, it's a game that treats relatively complex subjects with more maturity than most of its contemporaries.
WARNING: 'Grand Theft Auto 5' is complex to control and requires a powerful game console or computer to play.
'Journey' is the most purely artistic game on this list. It's gorgeous. It has a distinct sense of style. It does unique things that no other game has done (like pairing you with a random, unnamed online partner with which to complete your journey), and it does it all in a tightly wrapped package. That the game is soundtracked by an Academy Award-nominated orchestral arrangement makes it all the more easy to enjoy. Like 'Gone Home' and 'Portal,' 'Journey' shows what the video game medium is capable of.
Understanding what 'Wii Sports' is and how it works is as simple as watching someone play for around 30 seconds. Pick up controller, swing controller, hit virtual ball -- simple! 'Wii Sports' revolutionised how people interact with games and fundamentally altered the scope of the gaming audience forever.
If you haven't already played 'Tetris,' I'm impressed. Beyond the fact that it's over 30 years old, 'Tetris' is one of the first gaming classics to break beyond the world of game console-owning superfans into mainstream culture. It's a near-perfect puzzle game that deserves space alongside the likes of Sudoku. 'Tetris,' frankly, is bigger than video games.
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