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Monday, April 29, 2013

'Human Accomplishment' Class Game Franchises:

Video games are a recent invention.  The innovative variations between them have spread and multiplied, and in each genre there stands a titan that dominates its sphere or a founder who got the ball rolling (sometimes this is one and the same game).  Just like the leader of impressionist art would be recognized alongside the leader of neo-gothic art, every leader of every video game genre deserves the title of a human accomplishment.  In addition, every simply great game or series of games deserves the title of a human accomplishment, for the same reason that no one ignores Leonardo just because Michelangelo exists.

If paintings and sculptures are big deals, why not video games?  Video games have more man-hours of labor put into them, more money invested, a plot, music, animation, gameplay mechanics, and keep people's attention for hundreds of hours.  Even more so with entire game franchises.  I don't see how painters beat software designers in any way.

If we look at all the great gaming franchises that have sprouted up starting around the time of the Nintendo, this is what we get: (Underlined names are included for being 'founders' of the genre, not necessarily because they're the best)

Role-Playing Games:

Final Fantasy
Tales of 'x'
Chrono-
Xeno-
Zelda
Lunar
Grandia
Star Ocean
Parasite Eve

Sandbox Games:

Star Control
Shenmue
Uncharted Waters/Pirates

Massive Multiplayer Online RPG:

World of Warcraft

Tactical RPG's:

Ogre Battle
Final Fantasy Tactics
Disgaea
Soul Nomad
Phantom Brave
Utawarerumono

Real Time Strategy:

Starcraft/Warcraft
Dune II 

Real Time Tactics:

Warhammer:  Shadow of the Horned Rat, Dark Omen.


Strategy Games:

Civilization
Colonization
Master of Orion
Heroes of Might and Magic
Warlords
Master of Magic

Sports:

World Cup Soccer (for NES) 

Racing:

Mario Kart

Platformer:

Mario
Mega Man
Donkey Kong

Side Scrolling Beat-em-up:

Double Dragon
X-men
King of Dragons

Bullet Hell:

Star Fox

Fighters:

Street Fighter
Powerstones
Smash Brothers
Soul Calibur
Mortal Kombat
Guilty Gear
Bloody Roar
Dead or Alive
Naruto:  Ultimate Ninja Storm
Bushido Blade

Puzzle Games:

Tetris


First Person Shooters:

Star Wars: Dark Forces

Hack and Slash:

Dynasty Warriors



To align with my other hall of fame posts, I'll also provide a rough ranking of how good these game franchises are compared to each other, from an entirely subjective point of view:

1.  World of Warcraft
2.  Final Fantasy
3.  Tales of 'X'
4.  Dynasty Warriors
5.  Powerstones
6.  Final Fantasy Tactics 
7.  Ogre Battle 
8.  Chrono
9.  Xeno
10.  Mega Man
11.  Mario Kart
12.  Mario
13.  Starcon
14.  Master of Orion
15.  Warlords
16.  Heroes of Might and Magic
17.  Guilty Gear
18.  Street Fighter
19.  Utawarerumono
20.  Star Wars:  Dark Forces
21.  Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat, Dark Omen.
22.  Zelda
23.  King of Dragons
24.  Master of Magic
25.  Dune II
26.  Warcraft/Starcraft
27.  Mortal Kombat
28.  Soul Calibur
29.  Smash Brothers
30.  Soul Nomad
31.  Phantom Brave
32.  Double Dragon
33.  Lunar
34.  Star Fox
35.  Donkey Kong
36.  Bloody Roar
37.  Grandia
38.  Shenmue
39.  Star Ocean
40.  Disgaea
41.  Colonization
42.  X-men
43.  Naruto:  Ultimate Ninja Storm
44.  Dead or Alive
45.  Civilization
46.  World Cup Soccer
47.  Parasite Eve
48.  Bushido Blade
49.  Tetris
50.  Uncharted Waters/Pirates

I'm sure I'm missing a number of valid inclusions into this list (Sort of like how Dynasty Warriors still has a lot of characters it needs to add, despite already having 90).  But the important thing is to get your mind around the concept of how many different types of video games and how many different types of gamers there are in the world.  Once you realize how sophisticated and innovative the industry is, you'll start to appreciate how many great people are working in this field.

Video games are a larger industry that entertains people for more total hours than movies.  It's absurd to talk about how great various movie directors are from an artistic viewpoint while ignoring the much more important video game industry.  Granted, Charles Murray avoids this hypocrisy by throwing movies under the bus too (just like he throws rock music, television shows, comic books, and all other modern art under the bus), but that isn't a sane position so it isn't necessary to refute.

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