In June 2013 ESI Design and Games For Change came up with an online crowd sourced list of the “100 Games Everyone Should Play.“ About 500 people (mostly game academics and educational game developers) participating in nominating games and ranking them. Games for Change took the top 20 games and had attendees of its 2013 Games For Change Festival vote on what skills (such as “critical thinking”) were involved in playing each of the games.
If you are looking for new games to play, these top 100 and top 20 lists are a good place to start, as long as you do not take the authority of these lists too seriously. The process of ranking these games (which I participated in) had its issues. The main problem was that it was never established, or even discussed, what it means to be a “game everyone should play.” Is this a list most historically important games? The most influential games? The most fun games? The fuzziness in this regard resulted in a fuzziness in the results. For example, do sports qualify to be on the list? If so, why does Ultimate Frisbee make the list (at #98), but Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, and American Football do not?
The mechanics for voting were also problematic. During the voting period, participants could see how the nominated games were ranked and then choose to vote higher or lower any game that they think should be ranked differently. The problem was that once a vote is submitted, there was no way for the vote to be changed. That might seem reasonable, but it it resulted in detaching the effect of a vote from what it was intended to convey. For example, suppose you were a voting participant who logged in and saw that Grim Fandango was currently rated at #105. You had fond memories of playing the game in the 1990s and voted it up, thinking it would be nice if it squeaked into the top 100. Later, when you logged into the voting again, you see that it had jumped to #19 (the game’s actual final rating) and thought, “Geez, it’s a nice game, but certainly not the 19th best game of all time!” You want to amend your vote to reflect that opinion, but there is no way to do so. Your vote up when it was at #105 pushes the game up to #19 as much as a vote when it was #20.
Read more about the top 100 list on ESI’s blog.