Author Archives: iainthegreat

About iainthegreat

I am half way between A and B personality. I shot guns, went camping, play consoles. For meeting people and entertainment, I go to the same bar in River Falls for better or worse.

top 100 videogames 2015 edition

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Worms Armageddon
100. Worms Armageddon (1999). The feeling inspired most intensely by Worms Armageddon,
oddly but irresistibly, is helplessness—the sensation that, as a friend
locks you in the sights of a bazooka, you can’t do anything about it.
Chaos reigns: Grenades remain in thrall to the mercurial whims of the
wind, ping-pong wildly, as you seize up waiting to see that last,
unpredictable bounce. These are death matches in which you’re about as
likely to shoot your enemy as you are to shoot yourself, though with
mechanics so precisely engineered that the only blame for your mistakes
belongs to yourself. It was maddening. But futility proved fun.  Marsh

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
99. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium (1995). Phantasy Star
has its fans, a great many of whom jumped on when the series went MMO,
but it’s never been a franchise uttered in the same breath as Square
Enix’s best and Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium releasing hot on the heels of Final Fantasy VI didn’t help. The irony is that Sega’s magnum RPG opus does pretty much everything Final Fantasy
would offer in the years that followed way ahead of the curve: combo
spells, manga-inspired cutscenes, space travel, multiple vehicles to
play around in, and the best, delightfully earnest storytelling the
genre has to offer. This is the system’s quietly ignored masterpiece.  Justin Clark

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
98. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2005). The genius of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
is derived from a single word: “Objection.” The game imbued that modest
exclamation with the power to make or break a legal case entire,
invoked like a coup de grace to bring a 10-hour mystery to its final,
satisfying close. A handheld judicial comedy composed largely of text
and 2D animation, Phoenix Wright is clearly a video game apart,
beloved as much for its formal audacity as for its almost novelistic
density as a work of detective fiction. Gather clues. Build a case. And
prepare for a culminating moment of glory: a chance to yell
“Objection!”  Marsh

Wild Arms
97. Wild Arms (1996). Back in the olde days
of the PlayStation, developers seemed a lot more willing to make
reckless gambles, but it led to brilliant oddball titles like Wild Arms,
which combined western themes with science-fiction machinations. The
game freewheeled it from the start, allowing players to choose the order
in which they’d play through the initial three scenarios, and never
looked back. By settling on a small cast (going up against some very
large stakes), the game allowed for a depth of character development
that was missed in other, more well-known titles, to the extent that
even swapping between heroes (each had their own set of puzzle-solving
tools) felt like reacquainting oneself with an old friend. Whether
playing a guitar to summon a monstrous golem or using the power glove to
disrupt a satellite’s transmission, they just don’t make bizarre, wild
games like this anymore.  Aaron Riccio

Pokémon Gold and Silver
96. Pokémon Gold and Silver (2000). Superior in almost every way to their predecessors, Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced a number of significant advancements that have since become staples in modern Pokémon
installments. The real-time clock system, which allowed for certain
Pokémon to make their appearances at specific hours of the day, was a
landmark element that had gamers waking up in the dead of the night to
acquire rare critters. Pokémon item-holding, berries, the Pokégear,
defeated trainer rematches, shiny Pokémon, breeding, and the Dark and
Steel types were also first seen in Gold and Silver. To boot, Gold and Silver arguably boast the best starting trio, protagonist, and expansion edition (Pokémon Crystal) this fabled franchise has yet to deliver.  Mike LeChevallier

Dead Space
95. Dead Space (2008). Resident Evil 4 in space, or a video-game version of Event Horizon. That’s Dead Space
in a nutshell, but that also doesn’t do the game’s fierce commitment to
the horror element of survival horror nearly enough justice. This is a
game not above setting up creatures to jump from behind vents and
corners, or leaving the player low on ammo, but it’s in watching the
Artifact drive the USG Ishimura’s crew into violent insanity, the game’s
Kubrickian use of the cold silence and zero gravity of space, and the
dozens of visceral ways Isaac Clarke can die that raise this game far
above its lackluster peers.  Clark

Advance Wars: Dual Strike
94. Advance Wars: Dual Strike (2005). The most appealing feature of Advance Wars: Dual Strike
is also its most superfluous: Those gloriously, singularly animated
battle sequences, which hurl your tiny armies into split-screen combat
for a two-second rapid-fire skirmish. It’s an entirely unnecessary
design element—a quirky bit of ornamentation that visualizes the damage
calculations chattering away behind the scenes. And yet it’s precisely
what elevates the game from distinguished real-time strategy to
something altogether new. Precisely calibrated mechanics are a solid
foundation. Advance Wars delivers something more: a burst of aesthetic splendor and an inspired flourish of design.  Marsh

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
93. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1992).
In its halcyon days, the side-scrolling beam-’em-up genre produced a
number of standout games that could have easily landed on this list, but
Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time stands
as the king of its kind for a variety of reasons. It effortlessly
defined the comic book-reading, pizza-eating, cartoon-watching,
slang-spouting, arcade-inhabiting zeitgeist by using the then
mega-popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a faceplate for
what’s perhaps one of the most addicting cooperative multiplayer
experiences in video-game history. Teaming up with three friends as the
titular reptilian foursome and mowing down waves of Foot Soldiers and
various mutated hostiles, all set to composer Kôzô Nakamura’s consummate
16-bit score, is a riotous routine that never stales.  LeChevallier

Fallout 3
92. Fallout 3 (2008). The idea of walking
around a nuclear wasteland in 2077 is as much of a fantasy as anything
else in a modern role-playing games, but the attention to details
lavished by Betheseda upon their devastated, mutant-overrun version of
Washington D.C. made Fallout 3 feel all too real. That’s
because the game allowed you to literally choose your own adventure.
Because if you didn’t feel like exploring the various ruined landmarks,
subways, and museums that loosely connected the main plot, you could
simply scavenge the surrounding, fully rendered areas, stumbling over
old military bunkers and warehouses in the mountains, or picking through
suburban homes, supplying your own grim stories and making your own
brand of morality.  Riccio

Halo
91. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001). Halo
is about an intergalactic war between humans and aliens, interrupted
with the discovery of an ancient, sinister planet-sized artifact: an
enormous ringworld, with continents and oceans like Earth, that
stretches into an enormous loop. One can see everything continuing way
off into the distance, then look up to the sky to see the ring reach up
into the heavens. This dazzling vision defied the limits of previous
first-person shooters, set across uniquely huge landscapes that could be
freely traversed, and utilized vehicles as well as firearms, both for
travel and as armaments. Its addictive gameplay is accentuated by its
intriguing sci-fi narrative, wherein the player’s interaction with the
technology of an ancient species inadvertently instigates the end of all
life.  Ryan Aston

Saints Row: The Third
90. Saints Row: The Third (2011). You’re the
leader of a gang of ninjas dressed in an enormous pink cat suit,
driving your monster truck over pedestrians as you flee from a gang of
Mexican Luchadore wrestlers. Soon you’ll be flying overhead your bright
pink helicopter, shooting them with a rocket launcher that discharges
sharks. Dispensing completely with any notion of serious tone or
narrative, Saint’s Row: The Third embraces maximum lunacy to
create one of the more ridiculous, hilarious, and insane player
experiences ever offered by a video game. The open-world game to end all
open-world games, it offers players a dynamic sandbox within which to
cause havoc as the head of a fully customizable gang of crazies armed
with the most creative implements of destruction conceivable.  Aston

Valkyrie Profile
89. Valkyrie Profile (2000). More than a mere inoculation against the horrors of Game of Thrones, Valkyrie Profile
was a rarity among games: a mature, adult, unsparing tale of suffering
and struggle. To recruit your party of Einherjar, they first had to die;
to advance in the game, you had to offer them up a second time to the
pending apocalypse in Valhalla. The game played up its themes of
loss—items breaking in the middle of combat, an internal timer counting
down to the end of the world—so as to make the player appreciate all the
more what they had: a smart, challenging RPG in the body of a puzzling
platformer. Which is to say, a heartbreaking hybrid.   Riccio

Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening
88. Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (2005). For Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, Capcom wisely ditched Devil May Cry 2‘s
gloomy tonal approach in favor of a potent blend of extravagant gore,
tongue-in-cheek comedic jabs, and increased difficulty curves. Being a
prequel, the game was able to reintroduce the character of Dante, making
him less of a grim figure and more of a shamelessly cocky, conceited,
yet unusually magnetic antihero. A brilliant brother-versus-brother plot
sets the stage for a turbulent journey that takes Dante from his humble
shop in the grungy city streets to the innards of a massive flying
leviathan and the tip-top of a hellish tower where family values are put
aside in favor of unabashed personal glory.  LeChevallier

God of War III
87. God of War III (2010). It’s not always true, but in the instance of God of War III, bigger is
equivalent with better, and until this point, no game had ever fully
managed to get the visuals to line up to such larger-than-life
mythology. In this installment, gorgons were mere appetizers for Kratos,
and while he’d deign to spar with “mere” harpies, impressively rendered
and impassively sundered, the meat of the game had him running through
ever-more-colossal environments, at one point even rappelling alongside
the rippling, heaving bodies of the Titans themselves, stunning
destruction occurring all around him. It was the closest a game had come
to making a playable QTE, using its smooth controls to maintain an
illusion long enough to, at times, make the player actually feel like a
god.  Riccio

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
86. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004). Leave it to Hideo Kojima to follow the critical and commercial success of the second Metal Gear Solid with a sequel that abandons its most recognizable qualities. Snake Eater
dropped players into an unfamiliar jungle bristling with hostiles human
and animal alike, where they were left to fend for themselves without
the expected comforts—no radar, no high-powered weapons, and no easily
navigable map. And yet, despite the newfound emphasis on realism (a
respite from the meta-game artifice of its predecessor), this was still Metal Gear through and through: realism laced with the absurd. What else could it be?  Marsh

Child of Eden
85. Child of Eden (2011). Like its spiritual forebear, Rez, Child of Eden‘s
m.o. is the use of synesthesia—the sensory marriage of sight, sound,
and rhythm—as a core mechanic for what’s basically a wildly ambitious Space Harrier clone. Child of Eden
then goes the insane, amazing next step: The playing field here is a
computerized universe of music and natural beauty sent several rungs
down the evolutionary ladder by a virus, and life itself is now your
weapon. The purpose of every shot fired in Child of Eden is to
evolve and bloom, growing simple pulsing beats, tiny single-celled
organisms, and dormant seeds into breathtaking audiovisual glory. It’s
an experience that simply can’t be had anywhere else in this life but on
a console.  Clark

Grandia II
84. Grandia II (2000). Both Grandia and Grandia II are masterpieces of the genre—comparable, sometimes even superior, to Final Fantasy‘s finest hours. The Dreamcast’s Grandia II
is almost flawless, an epic adventure with an extraordinary cast of
protagonists who are constantly ripped apart and reunited again to
battle a treacherous enemy. Although its narrative is heavily focused on
misguided religions and shifting definitions of honor and evil, nothing
ever gets too heavy-handed, due largely to the blossoming,
down-to-earth central relationship between sullen mercenary Ryudo and
oppressed songstress Elena. Memorable for its sensational story alone,
stunning graphics and an immaculate turn-based combat system deftly
elevate the game to magnum-opus status.  LeChevallier

The Beatles: Rock Band
83. The Beatles: Rock Band (2009). By adding harmony vocals to Rock Band‘s already welcoming template, The Beatles: Rock Band
invited more non-gamers to join the fun, even as it led them from
breezy sing-alongs to vocal challenges as brutal as any in gaming. It
was all put together with a fan’s devotion, with nostalgic cutscenes and
marvelously obscure unlockables (for God’s sake, the Christmas
singles!). The collapse of the instrument-game market kept it from real
mainstream awareness. But since Rock Band was the greatest
communal experience in modern gaming, and the Beatles were the greatest
communal experience in pop culture, if it’s ever repackaged and
promoted, it could be the greatest family gathering event since The Cosby Show.  Daniel McKleinfeld

Halo 3
82. Halo 3 (2007). The alien vessel you’re trapped in is less a ship than a living thing.
The rooms are bordered with bloated, swollen pustules stretched from
wall to wall, while sacs of throbbing “organs” hang from the ceiling,
from which disgusting monsters emerge to attack—a stark contrast to the
large endless fields that comprised most of Halo: Combat Evolved.
Beginning on Earth with a bloody firefight in the jungles of Africa,
then teleporting to an ancient structure beyond the edges of the Milky
Way where multiple alien races feud, leading to the rescue mission in
the disgusting living alien ship, before concluding with a recreation of the original Halo, Halo 3 remains notable for its diversity of setting and how it complements its variety of action.  Aston

Rayman Legends
81. Rayman Legends (2013). There’s a dream every kid from the 8-bit era had of platformers growing up: the ability to play a cartoon. Rayman Legends
is the grand-scale realization of that dream. This is a one-to-one
translation of the manic energy and musical genius of a Chuck Jones
cartoon to the digital realm, with full control over the mayhem resting
in the player’s hands. And the sheer amount of that mayhem in Rayman Legends—50-plus original stages, including 75% of Rayman Origins‘ stages and a full-blown mini-game—is staggering in a day and age where a platformer can be blown through in a weekend.  Clark

Snatcher
80. Snatcher (1994). Before Metal Gear Solid
consumed the man’s career, Hideo Kojima managed to fire off a single
bracing shot of point-and-click cyberpunk adventure brilliance before
going gentle into that batshit night. Snatcher is still,
undoubtedly, Kojima’s baby, in that it wears its sci-fi influences,
distrust of military-industrial complex, and its grounding in undeniably
Japanese quirk proudly and boldly. But in the telling of this story,
about body-swapping android assassins and the detective agency that
hunts them in the years after the Cold War goes hot, Kojima finds a
maturity, restraint, and scrappy ambition that, ironically, bigger
budgets and better technology haven’t granted him since.  Clark

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
79. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (2005). Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
is a massive game, so much so that booting it up is akin to getting in a
plane, taking off, and touching down in a foreign land. There are no
shortcuts to be found here, no TARDIS-like building substitutes that are
larger on the inside than the outside, no world maps that offer up
miniature views of the dungeons you’ll soon enter. No, by remaining true
to its own scale and scope, Dragon Quest VIII came closer than
any RPG before it to offering the freedom of a pure adventure, where
every lovingly animated nook could be explored.   Riccio

Kingdom Hearts II
78. Kingdom Hearts II (2006). The origin of Kingdom Hearts sounds like a joke. Shinji Hashimoto and a Disney exec walk into an elevator… The rest is history. Kingdom Hearts II
represents the series at its creative zenith, featuring a surprisingly
deep story that daringly fleshes out themes of everlasting friendship
and what it means to be truly heartless. The entire first act is
essentially devoid of main protagonist Sora, with the player taking on
the role of his Nobody, Roxas. It’s unlike an RPG of this sort to drop
twists in its prologue, but when Roxas’s trials are revealed to be
contained in a simulation, Kingdom Hearts II takes a thrilling, fanciful turn away from the norm and refuses to looks back.  LeChevallier

Myst
77. Myst (1993). In the days before
high-speed Internet connections, most computer games left you sitting
alone in a dark room, your face lit by a single glowing rectangle. Myst
had a unique understanding of the simultaneous feelings of solitude and
connection that come from sitting alone, reading words that someone
left for you. The game’s slideshow pace invited the player to linger,
absorbing the details of its proto-steampunk environments like the
reader of a dense novel. Just when computer games were becoming a
world-shaking medium, Myst looked back to literature with a
contemplative affection that was uniquely inviting for those
uninterested in gaming’s usual reflex tests.  McKleinfeld

Viewtiful Joe
76. Viewtiful Joe (2003). A dazzling homage
to movie magic, superheroes, and the 2D side-scroller that was warmly
praised when released on the then-floundering GameCube, Viewtiful Joe
employed a battlefield blueprint inspired by cinematic visual effects.
Its VFX powers (Slow, Mach Speed, and Zoom In) put the player in the
director’s chair (or, perhaps, that of the editor), giving them the
opportunity to control and cut their own stylish fight sequences while
dispatching foes and solving puzzles. And with its charming art design
(a nod to both Japanese tokusatsu and American B movies) and cel-shaded
graphics done oh-so-right, it remains a reminder of what enchantment
might result from the civil union of film and video games.  LeChevallier

Grim Fandango
75. Grim Fandango (1998). Grim Fandango
opens with something much scarier than being chased by necromorphs or
overrun by zergs: simply being dead. Plenty of people have nervously
speculated about the afterlife; this game reassuringly suggests that it
will at least look awesome, by mixing Aztec aesthetics with noir tropes
and presenting it with Tim Schaefer’s trademark wisenheimer goofiness.
The widescreen tableaux of the graphic adventure worked like Beckett
landscapes, adding a bracing chill to comic business. Amid the
uncomfortable chuckles of the game’s premise, the absurd logic of
adventure games is a welcome pal, and every hard-boiled cutscene is a
reward worth working toward.   McKleinfeld

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
74. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001).
It’s difficult to overstate the sense of betrayal you feel when your
favorite character is killed off roughly 90 minutes into a game you
assume will star him. It put many of us on the defensive: We resented
Raiden, the story’s makeshift second hero, because he seemed to take the
place of the avatar we wanted as our own. But the bait and switch that
defined Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was instructive,
teaching gamers to appreciate the importance of authorial control, which
we learned meant trusting a creative vision even when its decisions
didn’t cohere with our desires. Games can only be art if they are
governed by artists. Hideo Kojima was the first to risk alienating us to
prove that he governed his.  Marsh

Jet Set Radio
73. Jet Set Radio (2000). By the time Jet Set Radio
came out, the skateboarding game was already in its decadent phase,
with players forced to memorize lists of buttons like bored yeshiva
students reciting the Torah. JSR stripped the controls down to
one stick and one button, replacing combo-memorization with a zen focus
on the environment. Then that environment was filled with awesomeness.
The cel-shaded graphics, witty cutscenes, and hip-hop-meets-J-pop
soundtrack—still the best original music in gaming history—are a fervent
Japanese fan letter to American graffiti street art, imagining kids of
all cultures united against corporate blandness. The game uses style the
way a great pop star does: as the mortar to build a dreamed-for world.
  McKleinfeld

Grand Theft Auto IV
72. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008). Just as Niko Bellic comes to Liberty City to pursue the American dream, so, too, do players boot up Grand Theft Auto IV
for that thrilling fantasy of untouchable freedom. Its twisted version
of New York City, already a melting pot, perfectly conflated the
protagonist’s fantasies with the player’s, to the point that you could
spend hours surfing the (fake) Internet, watching (fake) cartoons on
television, or even attending (fake) live shows near a (fake) Times
Square while ignoring your (fake) girlfriend’s texts. Okay, maybe going
on a rampage and outrunning the N.O.O.S.E. authorities was a bit much,
but everything else vividly blurred the line between art and reality,
between having it all and having nothing.   Riccio

Shenmue
71. Shenmue (2000). To play Shenmue
for the first time was to be introduced to new possibilities for the
medium. A few minutes pottering around downtown looking for distraction
was enough to impress upon you a sense of Yokosuka as a place people
lived and worked and played in, and suddenly the world of gaming itself
seemed bigger: In this sprawling expanse, amid all of this activity,
there seemed an art of limitless richness. Yu Suzuki conceived of a game
that would look and feel as life ought to—bustling, beautiful, and,
yes, sometimes tedious—and, more incredibly, brought it to playable
life.  Marsh

Grand Theft Auto V
70. Grand Theft Auto V (2013). Grand Theft Auto V
was the culmination of a decade’s worth of trial and error in
open-world game design and mature, hard-nosed storytelling. Introducing
three playable protagonists, each wildly different in personality and
motivation, Rockstar created a digital melting pot of with such wide
appeal and expansive scope that its transportive mimicry of a natural
existence is something that won’t be so readily replicated. Hours turn
into days and days into weeks when sitting down to a session of GTA V
(a notion that’s repeatedly made fun of in its candid satirizations of
ultraviolent video games, among other common vices), only escapable when
the necessities of everyday life beckon, or when you simply collapse
from lack of actual sustenance.  LeChevallier

Amplitude
69. Amplitude (2003). Harmonix, a company
that started as makers of virtual instruments, had a unique idea of what
music gaming could be. Instead of using music to make people push
buttons, they used gaming to make music interactive. By visualizing a
musical score as a series of binary triggers, Amplitude drops
players into the staves, making polyrhythmic structures intuitively
visible. It was the rare music game that understood music, and it
remains the best explication of the formal structures of hip-hop and
dance music, two genres often disparaged by people who don’t understand
how they work.  McKleinfeld

Street Fighter II: Championship Edition
68. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition (1992). In the long, storied bible of fighting games, Street Fighter 2 is the first book of the New Testament, and the Championship Edition
is its King James Version. Everything we know about how a fighting game
is supposed to look, sound, and feel comes back to this game providing
the wide array of character designs and mechanics, tweaking the balance
of power between characters, and letting players be the bosses for the
first time. The fact that this is still just as easy to pick up and play
while still remaining challenging enough for tournament play makes it
superior to much of what would follow in its wake.  Clark

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
67. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007).
Updating the battlefield from Axis and Allies to a strife-ridden Middle
East sounded, at first blush, like a novelty designed to reinvigorate a
tired franchise, and yet Call of Duty‘s change of milieu proved
nothing short of revelatory. Few were prepared for the “completely
cynical amusement,” as Nicholson Baker memorably called it, of the
harried first-person blitzkrieg Infinity Ward delivered, a duly
contemporary spectacle replete with drone bombings and suicidal
insurgents. Bleak? Necessarily. But the tinny splink of an armor-piercing round landing in an enemy’s fleshy chest never felt so satisfying. There’s a cynic in all of us.  Marsh

Beyond Good and Evil
66. Beyond Good and Evil (2003). We’ve finally reached a point in gaming history where gamers are finally starting to ask more of The Legend of Zelda as a series, not realizing that what they’re asking for has been staring them in the face since 2004. Beyond Good and Evil
definitely owes much of itself as a collection of gameplay mechanics to
Ocarina of Time, but then takes that crucial creative next step for the
whole idea of what Zelda could and should be. It manages to stay
playful, colorful, and light in the midst of a heady sci-fi tale of
human trafficking and alien civilizations, coupled with the same diverse
world building and character design that Michel Ancel would bring to Rayman over the years.  Clark

Vagrant Story
65. Vagrant Story (2000). There was once a
time when Square, fire under their ass with the freedom afforded by the
PS1, would experiment far away from their comfort zone with formula,
with genre, with gameplay. Vagrant Story was the last of those
experiments that worked, and probably the only one to flirt this closely
with perfection. The video-game company’s typical fantasy affections
are stripped away, leaving a tricky political yarn about an assassin
sent to a Gallic labyrinth of a city to kill a cult leader. And it’s a
yarn powered by possibly the deepest, most intuitive combat and crafting
systems Square’s ever conjured up.  Clark

Donkey Kong Country
64. Donkey Kong Country (1994). Donkey Kong Country
wasn’t a rhythm-based game, but there was an ineffable quality to
it—perhaps the manic momentum and pumped-up precision—that made the
gamer feel as if they were swinging from vine to vine themselves.
Whereas other platformers followed tentatively in the footsteps of
predecessors like Mario, Donkey Kong simply barrel-rolled through,
trusting players to figure out a way through the complex bramble and
coral-reef mazes. Every inch of the game presented a lush,
well-considered obstacle, and never seemed content to repeat itself. It
was the king of the jungle.  Riccio

Silent Hill
63. Silent Hill (1999). Silent Hill‘s
strongest character is its setting, a town as a twisting manifestation
of a broken psyche. Harry Mason awakens from a car crash, his daughter
gone. The fog is thick around him, and he can only see a figure in the
distance: a young girl. She turns and runs, and he pursues her, but the
world around him warps into an evil that kills him. The deeper one
delves into the game’s unsettling, oppressive atmosphere, the further
the curtain is pulled back to reveal the nature of a place where
childhood terrors manifest as corporal demons and the fear of
menstruation makes walls bleed rivers of blood. Every element works in
peerless conjunction to serve the themes of familial loss, childhood
abuse, and the terrifying impact of religious extremism.  Aston

Star Fox 64
62. Star Fox 64 (1997). Rail shooters typically confine players to a predetermined route, but Star Fox 64
made the furthest reaches of the Lylat System feel as if they were
freely explorable, even when your Arwing was ultimately being guided
toward its terminus by unseen hands. On the very first level, swooping
through rocky archways and defeating a hovering assault vessel hidden
behind a waterfall bypasses the standard path to Meteo and sends you to
Sector Y, a starlit space mission complete with mobile suits and
plummeting debris. Select boss encounters even opened up to an
“all-range mode” that allowed for fancy direction reversals and
foe-discombobulating maneuvers. It was this surprising sense of freedom,
as well as clean graphics and spotless controls, that made the game a
classic.  LeChevallier

You Don't Know Jack!
61. You Don’t Know Jack! (1995). What does a Victoria’s Secret model and feldspar have in common? Which video-game series did Nostradamus not predict? You Don’t Know Jack!
offers players the chance to participate in the funniest, craziest,
most irreverent game show imaginable, where historical trivia about Joan
of Arc is filtered through the lens of Dr. Phil, and musical questions
about the 1812 Overture include actual cannon shots firing. The
snarky, insulting narrators allow players to gang up on each other, and
will even take a break from the prewritten multiple-choice trivia to
call up random individuals from the phone book to come up with
questions. It’s exactly the right blend of general knowledge and
insanity that’s kept the franchise strong for nearly two decades.  Aston

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
60. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011). What most stands out about Deus Ex: Human Revolution
is the profoundly detail-rich realism of its near-future world. Every
location is alive with propaganda streaming on billboards and
advertisements for and against the technological movement that drives
the narrative. In a world that changes based on player actions, and
often in subtle way, citizens mix and engage in conflict with criminals
and law enforcement alike. The game demonstrates the power of the
medium, wherein interactivity can reveal new ideas about the core themes
and narrative at every turn. A prequel about ethics and consequences, Human Revolution depicts a world struggling to adapt to changing technology and its often insidious consequences.  Aston

Hotline Miami
59. Hotline Miami (2012). Amid the arms race
of next-gen graphical evolution and the seemingly endless deluge of
triple-A blockbuster shooters arrived a veritable thunderbolt of weird, Hotline Miami, and the landscape of modern gaming would never again be the same. A hallucinatory top-down action game that plays like River City Ransom as imagined by David Lynch, Hotline Miami
is a fever dream of violence and retro gaming, pulling together the
tropes of the medium’s innocent infancy and turning them into something
altogether darker. Jonatan Soderstrom and Dennis Wedin didn’t simply
make a classic game; they burrowed their way into the deepest recesses
of gaming’s unconscious, and the result feels like a nightmare you just
had but only half-remember.  Marsh

Conker's Bad Fur Day
58. Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001). Considering
the reason so many of us play video games, it’s odd how often most
titles follow a very specific set of unspoken rules. Not so with Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a recklessly unfiltered, untapped, superego-filled romp through a parody of inanely inoffensive titles like Banjo-Kazooie.
Conker cursed and solved puzzles by getting drunk enough to extinguish
flame demons with his piss, blithely sent up pop culture as diverse as A Clockwork Orange, Saving Private Ryan, Alien, and The Matrix,
and still had time to lob rolls of toilet paper down the gullet of a
giant operatic poo monster. For sheer balls, lunatic ingenuity, and
crass charm, there’s never been anything like it.  Riccio

Xenogears
57. Xenogears (1998). Not one to play second fiddle to the likes of Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears
saw Squaresoft following its mammoth JRPG success with an even bigger
undertaking that pushed the cabalistic boundaries of video-game
plotlines to the extreme. To fully enjoy this complex, vast, and
exhaustively symbolic experience heavily influenced by Freud, Jung, and
Nietzsche, it takes an open mind and supreme dedication on the part of
the player. Its excellent battle system makes the spiritual prequel Xenosaga‘s simplistic combat regimen seem dull by comparison. The exquisite Xenoblade Chronicles did well to resurrect interest in the series, causing curious fans to seek out Xenogears and discover the wondrous origins of this under-appreciated property.  LeChevallier

Mass Effect 3
56. Mass Effect 3 (2012). Everything is on the line in the final chapter of the Mass Effect
trilogy, which profoundly views sacrifice as an imperative. Having long
ignored Commander Shepard’s warnings, every being in the universe now
faces destruction as the genocidal Reapers bring ruin to every world.
The theme of this series has always been inclusivity, and it’s with this
in mind that the player must travel the game’s large and multifaceted
universe to end wars, unite races, and build a resistance to an
absolutely devastating threat. All the way toward the largely
misunderstood climax that brings the game’s themes together in an
intelligent and metaphysical way, one is forced to make difficult and
heady choices, including sacrificing beloved characters and sometimes
entire species toward a common good.  Aston

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
55. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000).
The marriage of Marvel and Capcom was a match made in heaven.
Spider-Man versus Chun-Li. Wolverine versus Strider Hiryu. Captain
America versus Tron Bonne. The insane bouts went on and on, thanks to Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
and its benevolent roster of 56 fighters, each one able to be mastered
and used to promptly upset even the most skilled of opponents. The
balance in the game remains remarkable; selecting squads of three
fundamentally eliminated the unwelcome perils of facing a drastically
overpowered team. The winning formula carried over to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its imitators, but New Age of Heroes is doubtlessly the most seamless 2D brawler of its generation.  LeChevallier

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
54. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008). You get the sense, within a few minutes of playing Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots,
that Hideo Kojima has been waiting for technology to catch up to the
vision he’s realized here. The sheer breadth of this thing is
staggering: The globetrotting, continent-spanning action would have been
a technical impossibility before Kojima and Konami strained the limits
of the PlayStation 3 to make it happen. But this isn’t mere feat of
engineering. Kojima’s ambitions are chiefly artistic—idiosyncratic,
instantly identifiable, and utterly weird. Only the Metal Gear series could imagine a world so singular on a $60-million budget. Would that every blockbuster were so strange.  Marsh

Final Fantasy Tactics
53. Final Fantasy Tactics (1998). Not for nothing is one of the 20 main classes in Final Fantasy Tactics
labeled a Calculator. This is a game for math geniuses, with no end to
the mix-and-match job customization offered. Or it’s a game for future
military commanders, with over 60 chess-like scenarios to survive, often
at great odds. Or, with real-world inspirations like the War of the
Roses at heart, perhaps it’s a tale for historians. There’s magic, too,
and yards of in-game lore to read, so it’s for English majors as well.
Other games presented lessons, but Final Fantasy Tactics was
the complete package, a school unto itself. Many strategy RPGs preceded
and followed it, some even hewing closely to the same fundamental
systems, but none have managed to capture this blend of fact and
fantasy.  Riccio

Chrono Cross
52. Chrono Cross (2000). For half of its playtime, Chrono Cross
is simply Square at the height of their creative powers, telling the
tale of a teenager named Serge stuck in an alternate dimension where he
drowned as a child, essentially playing out a less confusing version of
the last two seasons of Lost. The question lingers in those hours of why exactly it invoked the holy name of Chrono Trigger
to tell it. The game starts answering that question in the second half
with the kind of reality-bending timeline gymnastics that would give
Shane Carruth a nosebleed, with the damage done to time in Chrono Trigger used here as a conceptual jumping-off point. The end result is one of the most satisfyingly dense RPGs ever made.  Clark

The World Ends with You
51. The World Ends with You (2008). If the world did indeed end with me, The World Ends with You
is the game I’d probably still be replaying. I might not even notice,
because it’s that absurdly inventive and addictive. This real-time,
dual-screen action RPG was so original that it still doesn’t
have any imitators (though others have borrowed from its customizable
difficulty). With its real-world portrayal of Shibuya, down to the
muddled masses and the mind-altering memes and status-influencing
fashion trends that controlled them, the game wasn’t just a hip response
that imitated life in the modern world, it was a cultural part of it.  Riccio

Bayonetta
50. Bayonetta (2010). One of the most hysterically ridiculous games ever made, Bayonetta
is the story of a super-powered 10-foot-tall dominatrix-librarian-witch
with glasses and a skintight outfit made of her own hair who battles
rival witches, heaven’s angels, and finally God himself. An empowered
female protagonist overfetishized to the point of parody, she’s a
corrective to gaming’s view of women primarily as eye candy or damsels
in distress. Bayonetta‘s universe is one in which men are
completely disempowered, impotent against a race of Amazonian women who
rule the world. The clever subversion of the typically male-dominated
action genre is complemented by stunningly deep, addictive, and
rewarding action mechanics, many utilizing Bayonetta’s own hair as a
weapon.  Aston

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
49. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002). No game had ever been as cinematic as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,
with a Hollywood actor in the lead and elegant visuals that leveraged
the precision of a virtual camera. But for all its movie envy, its real
greatness was its nonlinear sandbox. You spend a lot of time aimlessly
driving around, so it was a good trick to give every vehicle unique
handling and create so much entertaining audio content that tooling
around listening to the radio was fun. Especially if you set a few of
the NPCs on fire to launch a cheerfully debased Punch and Judy show.
Rockstar’s insistence on the surrealist comedy of pixilated mayhem has
always been controversial, which suggests that they understand their
medium far better than their detractors.  McKleinfeld

Journey
48. Journey (2012). A mute, red-cloaked idea
of a character trudges through a seemingly infinite desert, scarf
flapping in the gentle wind. The light from that far-off mountain
beckoned, but not urgently, not if you wanted to smell the digital
flowers. Pride came not from eluding enemies, or from conventional
progress, but from seeing something new. Stumbling over ruins in the
sand left players wondering not at the Ozymandius-like game they might
have missed, but at the dreamy fantasia left behind. And when the game
matched you with a second player, when it let you share that experience, and silently, save for the chirps that served as the game’s internal language, Journey was the Everygame.  Riccio

Max Payne
47. Max Payne (2001). On a winter’s night
some months after the death of his wife and child, renegade DEA agent
and ex-cop Max Payne takes to the streets of New York on a bloody Punisher-esque
quest to avenge his family, cleaning up the corrupt city and uncovering
the conspiracy that cost him everything. Combining graphic-novel noir
storytelling with addictive Matrix-inspired “bullet time” gunplay, Max Payne
still stuns for its rush of varied visual poetry. At the push of a
button, Max moves and aims in slow motion, giving him the edge against
his trigger-happy enemies, and these endlessly replayable sequences
evoke the fantasy-fulfillment of playing Neo in The Matrix‘s infamous lobby scene, or as one of John Woo’s renegade heroes.  Aston

Final Fantasy IX
46. Final Fantasy IX (2000). Final Fantasy‘s
last hurrah on the PlayStation pulled off a neat trick in that it
ditched the flamboyant character, environmental, and combat aesthetics
of FFVIII in favor of a more old-school approach that paid
homage to the pre-3D episodes. It allowed players to focus more on the
story, rather than absurdly large swords, guns, or swords that are also
guns. The saga of Zidane and Garnet remains a romance for the ages,
responsible for one of the most uplifting game endings of the past 20
years. And the battle system remains suitably uncomplicated, showing how
beneficial it can be when Square restrains itself from going over the
top.  LeChevallier

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
45. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995). A 2D pearl with enough creative energy and nuanced artistry to fill two games, this sequel to Super Mario World
gave the Yoshi clan their rightful time in the limelight, and in the
process developed a set of ingenious platforming mechanics that have yet
to be even shoddily imitated. Yoshi’s flutter jump, in combination with
his egg aim-and-throw technique, made for a unique variation on the
typical side-scrolling Super Mario escapade. Certain areas also
allowed Yoshi to transform into a multitude of vehicles that could
navigate previously unreachable areas. Yoshi’s Island is a game that’s absolutely brimming with pioneering ideas, representing Nintendo at its most fearlessly experimental.  LeChevallier

Katamari Damacy
44. Katamari Damacy (2004). It’s impossible to summarize Katamari Damarcy
with the language of literature or film: plot, character, iconic
images, expressive subjectivity. Instead it makes art from gaming’s
preferred values: accumulation, variation, interaction, progress. The
story is absurd, and its visuals and controls are willfully crude. Yet
it’s a well-honed machine that generates pure joy. Because lurking
behind the serious silliness is a glimpse of theme: The game is an
elegant metaphor for growing up, in which the world becomes fuller and
more detailed the bigger you get, beautifully conveying the thrill of an
expanding horizon. If that’s not art, what is?   McKleinfeld

Super Mario 64
43. Super Mario 64 (1996). We didn’t have a template for 3D games until Nintendo conceived of one for us. Super Mario 64
was an architectural marvel designed and built without a blueprint: The
rolling open-world hills and sprawling primary-color vistas that seem
as familiar to gamers today as the world outside were dreamed up out of
nothing more than programmed paint and canvas. Shigeru Miyamoto was
given the unenviable task of contemporizing his studio’s longest-running
and most prominent franchise while remaining true to its 2D legacy.
It’s a testament to Miyamoto’s accomplishment here that, nearly 20 years
later, the result feels no less iconic than the original.  Marsh

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
42. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997). Dozens of games have referred back to the things Symphony of the Night did back in 1997 to veer the traditionally linear Castlevania
series off into completely unknown open-world territory, and few have
done it as spectacularly. The main castle and its spectacular
upside-down counterpart are staggering achievements in art design, and
the score contains two or three of the best classical compositions of
the last two decades. But more than this, the experience of exploring
every haunted nook and cranny of this place, so drowning in secrets,
unique weapons, and non-repeating enemies, is astounding to this day,
whether the player is on his or her first or 40th playthrough.  Clark

Psychonauts
41. Psychonauts (2005). In a console generation starved for whimsy, the good-natured charm of Psychonauts
was shocking. There are gruesome scares a-plenty (the kids getting
their brains pulled out through their nostrils will linger in nightmares
for a long time), but the tone is always gleeful and the dialogue
always hilarious. The style makes a great first impression, but what
keeps it on so many best-of-all-time lists is the sugar-high creativity
of the level design. Each level of the game introduced new gameplay
elements that were easy to figure out and tied beautifully to the story.
Psychonauts fulfilled the ludological dictum of making gameplay into narrative, and the much harder trick of making it look effortless.  McKleinfeld

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
40. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009). Take Spielberg’s Indiana Jones
films, set them in the modern day, remove any limitations of budget, or
respect for public property or stuntman safety. That’s the Uncharted series. But where the first Uncharted almost feels timid, the work of a studio getting its bearings with the PS3, Uncharted 2
exudes a more confident swagger. Naughty Dog knew the first time they
could craft any adrenaline-pumping set piece imaginable. It’s in how
much effort they’ve spent making Nathan Drake and his supporting cast
feel like fleshed-out, vulnerable, nuanced human beings who make very
human mistakes, even in the middle of those set pieces, that makes Uncharted 2: Among Thieves seem like a Herculean jump ahead of its predecessor.  Clark

Final Fantasy VI
39. Final Fantasy VI (1994). There’s a classic South Park episode that mocks the fact that if there’s a joke you like, chances are The Simpsons already did it. The same can be said for Final Fantasy VI,
which basically broke and reset every rule for the modern RPG. It would
have been impressive enough to feature 14 playable characters, each
with their own unique abilities (like Sabin’s Street Fighter¬-like
combinations); or to introduce the steampunk combination of magic and
technology to the genre; or to offer branching narrative paths; or to
stuff the game with enough side quests to fill an entire sequel, but Final Fantasy VI
did it all—first and flawlessly. That a game in which the world is
destroyed halfway through also finds time for humor, thanks to a certain
cephalopod, is just icing on an already gluttonous cake.   Riccio

Banjo-Kazooie
38. Banjo-Kazooie (1998). Here’s the odd
game that boasts a split-personality protagonist: an amiable bear
representing the superego and an obnoxious bird representing the id.
While Nintendo created the 3D-platformer template with Super Mario 64, Rare refined it with their tongue-in-cheek Banjo-Kazooie.
The humor and game mechanics simultaneously develop all the way through
to the hysterical game-show finale and subsequent boss battle that
effectively takes advantage of all skills acquired across the game.
Subbing the blank-faced plumber with a chilled bear and his sassy
backpack-bound avian sidekick, the game stands out for its
self-awareness: An unusually meta experience, it constantly pokes fun at
its contrived storyline, limited characterization, and other gaming
tropes. Few games are so accomplished in both personality and
gameplay.  Aston

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
37. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002). Five hours into Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem,
it asked if I wanted to delete my saved game. I declined, then watched
in horror as my progress was irrevocably erased anyway. This can’t be happening, I thought to myself, gripping my controller in shock. And, in fact, it wasn’t happening, as this was just one of the many meta frights that turned Eternal Darkness
from internal, character-focused survival horror to an external
psychological horror game that messed with players. Were you
accidentally sitting on the remote, or was the game turning the volume
down for you? Were you missing a hidden switch in the room, or was every
door just temporarily locked? There has yet to be a game as
delightfully maddening.  Riccio

Rock Band 3
36. Rock Band 3 (2010). From singing vocals in harmony to hammering away at a four-piece drum kit, Rock Band makes players feel like they’re part of the music. The series hit its apex with Rock Band 3,
the natural evolution of the series that introduced the keyboard to
accompany the drums and guitars, and upgraded the plastic guitar with a
real one. While Activision’s competing Guitar Hero franchise fell apart with unwelcome, irrational, and incompatible yearly iterations, Harmonix treated Rock Band
as a platform, allowing players to buy whatever songs they wanted and
adding valuable features with each release, like the ability to play
music online, expanding the party internationally. How else can I sing
Journey with my friend in Canada from my house in the land down under?  Aston

Power Stone 2
35. Power Stone 2 (2000). Power Stone 2 one-ups its predecessor by introducing four-player battles that, at their craziest, make Super Smash Bros.
and its sequels look comparatively tame. Running around hazardous,
item-heavy warzones, with the short-term goal of repeatedly amassing
three of the titular gemstones, prompting an all-powerful transformation
that decimates opponents with arena-filling special moves was an event
likely to instantaneously change the mind of any Dreamcast naysayer upon
round one of play. With all the chaos at hand, it was astonishing how
little slowdown ever occurred. Power Stone 2 remains exhibit A
to showcase the prowess of the once mighty Sega Dreamcast, a console
that went the way of the dodo long before it should have.  LeChevallier

Dance Dance Revolution
34. Dance Dance Revolution (1998). Dance Dance Revolution
introduced gamers’ feet to the thrill that their hands had long known:
high-speed patterned motion. Or as humans call it, dancing. And it felt
great, because, as people who weren’t spending their nights hunched over
computers knew, dancing is fun. Suddenly a whole generation of kids
returned to the arcades, made abruptly relevant again by the space
requirement of full-size metal dance pads. Long before televised dance
competitions returned to prime-time television, YouTube was packed with
hot-shit kids racing through steps like vaudeville hoofers. Dance Dance Revolution
convinced non-gamers that video games weren’t just for
basement-dwelling trolls, and convinced gamers that their body wasn’t
just something to abandon in a chair.  McKleinfeld

Super Smash Bros. Melee
33. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001). The best games of all time invoke an almost instant sense of nostalgia. Make no mistake: Super Smash Bros. Melee‘s
charms aren’t simply generated from the goodwill of its roster of
characters, classic heroes like Link or Mario, but from its own chaotic
twist on combat, as much a matter of playing evasion ballet as of
mastering the various power-ups and environmental hazards. That said,
taking such a deep bench of characters out of their elements and into a
brawler was not without a special sort of charm, as watching F-Zero‘s
neglected Captain Falcon take revenge on an overstuffed Kirby or having
Jigglypuff knock-out Luigi will simply never get old.  Riccio

Batman: Arkham City
32. Batman: Arkham City (2011). Before him
lay two bodies. One is his nemesis, a deranged serial killer behind
fanatical displays of destruction, the other his lover, a once-innocent
girl caught up in the plots to overthrow Gotham. Only one matters to
him, and Bruce Wayne carries his body out of the tomb for everyone to
see. Arguably the only downfall in Batman: Arkham Asylum was
its finale, a tonally and narratively incoherent victory against the
Joker that went against the bleakness of everything prior, but not so
with follow-up Arkham City,
which boasts one of the most aggressively nihilistic endings in the
history of the medium. As the game’s setting expands from the smaller
sanitarium to the larger city, so does the sense of hopelessness for the
characters, rendering every victory pyrrhic in nature.”  Aston

Tetris
31. Tetris (1986). Tetris is a game
of pure abstraction, its mastery of the simplest possible visual units
as ideal and impersonal as the Helvetica font. It’s no coincidence that
it came to America as an ambassador from a foreign country; like the
math equations on the Voyager shuttle, it speaks a language even space
aliens could comprehend. The fundamental gameplay imperative of fitting
blocks together is almost offensively infantile, but players who master
the game can feel neurons growing as they learn to stop just seeing the
shapes, and start seeing the negative space around them. The system
recalibrates your perceptions as you explore it, and that’s what a great
game is about.  McKleinfeld

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The Walking Dead
30. The Walking Dead (2012). No one would’ve faulted any developer for slapping The Walking Dead name on a lackluster Left 4 Dead rip-off, and waiting for the cash to roll in—like Activision tried to do with Survival Instinct. But instead, in Telltale Games’s hands, The Walking Dead
is going to go down as not only the game that shocked the entire
adventure game genre out of atrophy, but as a brutal and brilliant
Cormac McCarthian tale of terror and human loss unprecedented in this
medium. This is a game where success is almost entirely measured in the
structural integrity of a little girl’s soul, and the decisions you’ve
made to keep it intact. This is the story the AMC show only dreams it’s
built across its four seasons.  Clark

Pokémon Red and Blue
29. Pokémon Red and Blue (1998). The
Internet can be a heinous place, but when the masses use it to cooperate
on a joint task, no matter how seemingly insignificant, wonderful
things can occur. That happened earlier this year with the social
experiment dubbed “Twitch Plays Pokémon,” wherein a populous chat room of participants could input commands that would control an emulated version of Pokémon Red,
painstakingly completing a single run-through of the main game in 16
days’ time. This strange yet continuously alluring examination of
interests and correspondence highlighted, more than 15 years after its
original release, how pivotal, ageless, and unifying the introductory Pokémon games are. The methodology holds strong: see Pokémon, catch Pokémon, live Pokémon. Together, now and forever.   LeChevallier

Rez
28. Rez (2002). It takes about five seconds to understand the appeal of Rez.
Its aesthetic is so distinctive, its style of play so radical, that
finding yourself attuned to its wavelength is as easy as turning it on.
The tactility of video games, of course, make them an almost synesthetic
experience, drawing a connection between image, sound, and touch. Rez
seizes on that connection and deepens it, until you believe you can see
and feel the sound around you. The rhythmic touch of a button creates a
flash of DayGlo color and a burst of techno music, all of it pulsing in
the air you’re flying through.  Marsh

Metroid Prime
27. Metroid Prime (2002). On paper, Metroid Prime should’ve been the game that made us all believe that the Metroid franchise should’ve stayed dead after that excruciating eight-year gap between Super Metroid
and this release. In reality, Retro Studios defied every expectation
that came with dragging a side-scroller kicking and screaming into 3D.
Everything that made Super Metroid brilliant—the isolation,
Samus’s varied arsenal, the sheer size of the world—remains. What Retro
added was grand, evil beauty to Samus’s surroundings, a subtly creepy
story of ill-fated alien civilizations told entirely without breaking
gameplay, and a laundry list of FPS innovations that felt next-gen, and
in more than just the graphics, even when the game got prettied up for
the Wii.  Clark

Super Mario Bros.
26. Super Mario Bros. (1985). It’s such a great day when you start up Super Mario Bros.,
skipping across the grass under blue skies while happy music plays. No
platformer had ever made jumping feel so instinctively right—so brisk at
the start and so smooth on the drop. With Super Mario Bros.,
Nintendo unleashed the ability that’s served them well through all
subsequent console generations, a knack for making the repetitiveness of
8-bit physics feel warm and organic. The game went on to work changes
on the theme like a Bach fugue, with secrets that anticipated
world-building games like The Legend of Zelda. But even at its
most controller-smashingly frustrating or obscure, it’s the controlled
delight of the jump that holds the player in a perfect little pleasure
loop.  McKleinfeld

Resident Evil 4
25. Resident Evil 4 (2005). In Resident Evil 4,
your mission to save the president’s daughter from kidnappers quickly
goes south, stranding you in a rural village surrounded by crazed
villagers infected with something very, very wrong. The game offers no
guidance as to how to react or escape, leaving the player in a state of
anxiety as Leon Kennedy attempts to flee only to be quickly cornered and
overcome. The series’s transition here from the stationary camera of
the previous games to a fully 3D environment was a major step forward
for third-person action games, but the sense of uncertainty that wracks
the player throughout the lengthy narrative, of being made the center of
a horrific, frenzied nightmare, is what made this game one of the most
profoundly discomfiting experiences video games have ever seen.  Aston

Ico
24. Ico (2001). Single-player video games are lonely. Ico
made loneliness feel magical by giving you a companion, even as it
constantly reminded you how alien her mind must be. Just like Princess
Yorda’s gnomic utterances imply a story that she just can’t share with
you, so does the game’s environment imply a vast narrative of which this
story is only a part, creating a potent illusion of context by
withholding backstory. While the gameplay itself is basic puzzle-solving
and crude combat, it’s the mood that makes it special, the constant
sense that there’s something vast just outside the frame.  McKleinfeld

Final Fantasy X
23. Final Fantasy X (2001). Final Fantasy X
was a great big teenage yawp of a game. But for all the adolescent
strum und drang of the my-father-is-a-monster plot, it’s the
good-natured physical enthusiasm of jocky bro-tagonist Tidus that made
all the wandering around a joy. The game unapologetically embraces
grinding, while decorating the long string of encounters with baroque
style. Of course, it looks cutting-edge gorgeous and has a big,
emotional story—this is Final Fantasy after all. But what made FFX
special was how it cut away the dross of JRPG battles mechanics.
Instead of making the player mindlessly tap the “Fight” button for the
first several hours, the game demanded strategic choices from the
beginning, so that every battle provided satisfying strategic challenge
along with the groovy combat animation.  McKleinfeld

SoulCalibur
22. SoulCalibur (1999). You know a game has
done something spectacular when most of the people who love it forget
its predecessor ever existed. Considering Soul Edge is one of the best PS1 games in its own right, that should say everything about how far SoulCalibur
pushed the envelope: full 3D movement, stunning environments, one of
the best, rousing scores ever composed, and, of course, the fast, fun,
and fluid combat. Not since the first Samurai Shodown‘s heyday had a developer managed to make epic swordfights feel like, well, epic swordfights, and yet SoulCalibur‘s brand of flying-spark chaos manages to deliver that experience to everyone, regardless of skill.  Clark

EarthBound
21. EarthBound (1994). There has never been a game as irreverently comic and deceptively touching as EarthBound.
It takes place in a darkly skewed version of Earth, with 13-year-old
Ness’s “rockin'” telekinetic powers and trusty baseball bat going toe to
toe with local gangs and bullies, Happy Happy cultists, and drugged-out
hippies. Despite liberally borrowing from RPG conventions (including an
emphasis on grind-heavy gameplay), the game oozed originality in just
about every other aspect, offering more than just escapism, but, in its
battle against loneliness and negative emotions, a reason to ultimately
set the controller down.  Riccio

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991). In 1991, a console game of such depth and sophistication as boasted by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
was simply beyond conception. In fact, it was almost beyond
possibility: Nintendo had to expand the capacity of their console’s
cartridges to make room for the breadth of what they’d hoped to do here.
The results were well worth the expense and effort. You didn’t just
play this game, but plunged headlong into its adventure, entering a
story and a world whose fate you felt lay in your hands. Today, though, A Link to the Past ought to be regarded as more than a milestone for a franchise still evolving. It is what is in its own right: a legend.  Marsh

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
19. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996). There was once a time when Square and Nintendo held hands and skipped merrily through fields of sunflowers, and gems like Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
remind us of how awesome it was when these two industry titans partied
together. The game turned the Mushroom Kingdom on its head by thrusting
the famous plumber into a quest that was anything but a run-of-the-mill
Mario venture. Bowser wasn’t the Big Bad, but instead a comrade,
fighting alongside his adversary in addition to Princess Toadstool and
newcomers Mallow, a cloud boy, and Geno, a possessed doll. The game’s
razor-sharp wit and intuitive battle system made Super Mario RPG a success and paved the way for the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series.  LeChevallier

Portal
18. Portal (2007). One great thing about
video games is that every aspect of them, from how trees look to whether
gravity works, is a decision. Valve’s previous games had expertly
simulated physics; Portal asked what would happen if, like God,
you could make physics different. And it presented that slapstick joke
with sophisticated narrative panache. Melding wunderkind student
designers with veteran comic writer Old Man Murray, Portal
grounded its spatial wackiness in recognizable (in)human resentments.
The story of GLaDOS and Chel is one of the great, Bechdel-test-passing
double acts in gaming history, made all the funnier by Chel’s
classic-FPS taciturnity.  McKleinfeld

Super Mario World
17. Super Mario World (1990). Super Mario World
feels like Nintendo’s own technology finally catching up with every
lofty, unattainable gameplay idea they couldn’t implement between 1985
and 1990. This is from an era where the first game a developer released
on a new system had something to prove, and the chip on Nintendo’s
shoulder shows here. The game still feels massive, teeming with secret
stages, alternate exits, stylish, Rube Goldbergian stage design, and
verticality the likes of which could never have been done prior, and
hasn’t really been done as expertly since. Add the fact that this is a Super Mario Bros. game that actually gives Super Mario a cape, and contains Yoshi’s first appearance, and this is still one for the ages.  Clark

Final Fantasy VII
16. Final Fantasy VII (1997). The death of Aeris Gainsborough heralded a new truth about the medium: Video games can make you cry. The sweep and thrust of Final Fantasy VII
engrossed as few adventures do, of course, but to be moved by the
emotional dimension of this story—to be invested in the lives and deaths
of Cloud Strife and his crew of AVALANCHE eco-terrorists, to feel
compelled to save this world as if it were your own—suggested the
beginnings of a new kind of video-game experience. Love and pain and
beauty are coursing through this thing. Action and adventure are at its
core. But emotion is its lifeblood.  Marsh

Silent Hill 2
15. Silent Hill 2 (2001). Silent Hill 2
is a game about grief. The story is simple: A widower is drawn toward
the eponymous side-side town after he receives a letter from his dead
wife, who asks that he meet her in their “special place,” a hotel off
the shore. In Silent Hill he finds terrible things: monsters, demons,
all glimpsed hazily through a shroud of impenetrable fog. But worst of
all he finds the truth. This isn’t a game about battling creatures or
solving puzzles; those elements hang in the background like the
ornamentation of a bad dream. In Silent Hill 2, you find yourself asleep, and the game is about needing to wake up.  Marsh

Mass Effect 2
14. Mass Effect 2 (2010). In Mass Effect 2‘s courageous opening, Commander Shepard and his personal Enterprise,
the Normandy, are obliterated by an unknown starship. Years later,
Shepard’s body is recovered by shady terrorist-cell Cerberus, who revive
the Commander, then take him or her under their employ, offering their
unlimited resources in exchange for “serving” humanity. It’s a risky,
morally uncertain opening that prefaces BioWare’s emotionally rich space
epic, allowing the player to create their own protagonist and
subsequently form a team to battle a universe-threatening menace, all
the while questioning the morality of their actions and benefactors. The
game allows individual characterization, and the power of one’s
decisions illustrates the great strength of this medium over other art
forms.  Aston

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
13. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003).
Link’s Odyssean adventure is a voyage of discovery, of sailing across
vast oceans and encountering islands where different species inhabit.
Unlike other 3D games whose graphics quickly become ugly with
technological obsoletism, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker‘s
cel-shaded aesthetic suggests a timeless Hayao Miyazaki film made
effortlessly playable, of childhood dreams come to life. Its richness
also derives from the genuine depth and maturity to its narrative, so
redolent of Greek mythology, of children suffering for the sins of their
ancestors and given the lofty task of saving the world from ancient
evils long thought buried, undergoing experiences that will forever
change them.  Aston

Ōkami
12. Ōkami (2006). The sun goddess Amaterasu,
taking the form of an angelic white wolf, sets out to vanquish the
eight-headed demon Orochi from Nippon. So begins a tale worthy enough to
follow any of the most revered Japanese folk legends in a
century-spanning anthology. With aesthetics that pay tribute to the
ancient art of calligraphy and the soulful connection between painter
and brush, Ōkami bleeds beauty from every pore. Combat, too, is
akin to the elegant strokes of bristles on parchment, smoothly
interweaving Amaterasu’s lightning-quick attacks with swipes of the
Celestial Brush, a tool that allows for on-screen drawings to come to
life, aiding in both battle and puzzle-solving. A charming sequel, Ōkamiden,
was later released for the Nintendo DS, but its lack of lasting impact
proved the peerless original wasn’t in need of a continuation.  LeChevallier

Goldeneye 007
11. Goldeneye 007 (1997). Not only was Goldeneye 007
one of the rare film-to-game adaptations that worked, featuring complex
level designs (and bonus objectives scaling to difficulty) that
required equal measures of stealth and shooting, but it also defined an
entire generation of FPS gamers with its heated four-player split-screen
multiplayer. The film lasted only a few brief hours, but the experience
of sitting beside three dear friends, sneakily watching their
screens to get a better read on their position, and then watching as
they accidentally walked into the corridor you’d just riddled with
proximity mines was the sort of halcyon summer haze that memoirists
dream of.  Riccio

;

BioShock
10. BioShock (2007). BioShock had
greater narrative and thematic ambition than any previous big-time
first-person shooter. But the real magic came—as it always does in great
art—in how it was told. The FPS is well-suited to immersive
exploration, and every corner of BioShock had some detail that
expanded the story. Even the enemy AI, which gave all NPCs background
tasks, convinced the player that Rapture was a world going about its
business before being interrupted by your murderous intrusion. And no
game has ever been so smart about cutscenes, the bane of most narrative
FPS titles. Bioshock elegantly led you through its levels with
subtle environmental cues, and when it took away control, it did so for a
very good reason.  McKleinfeld

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000). The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has Link living his own personal Groundhog Day
scenario to prevent a very-pissed-off-looking moon from crashing into
the world, and right off the bat with that premise, the series is in
heavier and more innovative territory than usual. The game still manages
to reuse everything worth taking from Ocarina of Time‘s
template, but also adding just a drop of haunting, elegiac melancholy,
casting a much different and enthralling pallor over the whole thing
than anything the series has seen. Majora’s Mask is as close to grim-and-gritty as The Legend of Zelda
ever needs to be, but it’s also the one game in the series that every
developer, Nintendo included, can learn the most from, when it comes to
adding depth, not darkness, to a series such as this.  Clark

Braid
8. Braid (2008). Braid was the
first art game to combine highbrow ambition with rock-solid gameplay.
Like most pioneering works, it’s largely about its own medium,
appropriating the inexorable left-to-right movement and
damsel-in-distress story of a certain famous gaming icon and using it as
a metaphor for…life? Guilt? L’amour fou? Braid doesn’t
answer all the questions it raises, and that’s a good thing. Better
still is how elegantly the story and the game mechanics work together,
with time-reversing levels exploring remorse and single-key puzzles as
metaphors for loss. Like the games it parodies, Braid makes
walking and jumping feel great, but it uses that visceral satisfaction
to draw you into something profoundly disquieting.  McKleinfeld

Portal 2
7. Portal 2 (2011). It’s one thing to outthink a psychopathic computer program, as players did in the original Portal. But this brilliant sequel took things leaps and bounds beyond by asking players to outthink one another.
In a co-op mode to rival all others, players were forced to work
together, but never punished for betraying each other instead. In a meta
move, the real cleverness wasn’t in the exponentially more complex
puzzles, but in the way it asked players to trust in that Charlie
Brown-like way that their friends wouldn’t infuriatingly, comically
sabotage them at the last second. Shooting your friends was simple;
trapping them in an infinite, head-spinning loop was impressive.  Riccio

Half-Life 2
6. Half-Life 2 (2004). The original Half-Life redefined the way players experienced first-person shooters with heavily scripted sequences and a well-written narrative. Half-Life 2
took this to the next level, as silent protagonist Gordon Freeman is
removed from cryostasis and plunged into a future dystopia—a formerly
human-populated city now turned zombie nightmare—reminiscent of Nazi
Germany where the last remaining humans reside, enslaved by an
unstoppable alien threat. Without ever relying on cutscenes, the game
makes you a first-person participant in its storyline, one that turns
the tide from oppression to rebellion fighting for the future of
humanity. It’s a classic whose thrills best those of most action movies
and demonstrates the remarkable innovation the medium is capable of.  Aston

Shadow of the Colossus
5. Shadow of the Colossus (2005). The death
of a colossus is a terrible thing. It feels all wrong: You thrust your
sword into the softness of a great beast’s neck as instructed until it
lurches forward and falls. The only thing you’re asked to do in Shadow of the Colossus
is extinguish 16 impossibly beautiful creatures. There are no hazards,
or enemies, or side quests. There are no power-ups or upgrades to be
found. There is only you, the colossi, and the suffering you inflict
upon them. Every video game is founded on a pretense of control—an
illusion that you have a choice. Shadow of the Colossus dispels the myth by posing a simple question: Why? We should all think hard about the answer.  Marsh

Red Dead Redemption
4. Red Dead Redemption (2010). A true western can’t be afraid to back down from its gritty substance, and Red Dead Redemption‘s
final, unwinnable mission lives up to consequences often promised by
the grim story. But that semi-tragic ending is earned by the
plausibility of its rich open world, which is filled not just with
outlaws to shoot, but also with cattle to herd and tame, animals to
hunt, trains to rob (or protect), and townsfolk with whom you fight,
drink, and gamble. But perhaps the grandest accomplishment was the sheer
beauty of the territory, such that stumbling upon a rare sunset-lit
vista while hunting for buried treasure was often reward enough.  Riccio

Super Metroid
3. Super Metroid (1994). Perfection in game design is like pornography: You know it when you see it. And in Super Metroid,
it’s plain as day. It isn’t exaggeration to say that every element of
the game has been conceived and calibrated to something like a platonic
ideal: its level design feels complex but comprehensible; its difficulty
is precisely balanced; its controls are as smooth as buttercream; and,
perhaps most crucially, its sense of atmosphere is richly palpable. The
greatness of Super Metroid is apparent from the moment Samus
Aran floats up from within her Gunship to stand poised and ready in the
rain. It’s achingly beautiful. This is game craft at the height of
elegance.   Marsh

Chrono Trigger
2. Chrono Trigger (1995). Chrono Trigger
is the easiest, conversation-ending answer to the question, “Why do you
like RPGs?” It’s in the wonderfully written, infinitely endearing
characters that are the best examples of each of their archetypes. The
great, smart-alecky humor balanced with the impending doom waiting in
1999. The twists and turns in the plot, few, if any, of which are
telegraphed from miles away. The consequences of your actions across the
multiple timelines. The combat. The lack of random encounters. The
score. That Mode 7 clock at the start that still feels like the
beginning of something epic 20 years later. This is every JRPG element
working in total harmony.  Clark

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (1998). During the lengthy, groundbreaking development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,
Shigeru Miyamoto envisioned a worst-case scenario in which Link would
be restricted to Ganon’s castle throughout the game’s entirety, jumping
through portals to enter mission-based worlds a la Super Mario 64.
Let us be eternally grateful, then, that Miyamoto-sensei and his
colleagues got a handle on their newly broken-in hardware before
submitting their final product. There aren’t enough superlatives, in any
language, to describe how important Ocarina of Time is, not
only to the medium of video games, but to the act of telling and being
enveloped by stories. You start the game as a child, and finish it as an
adult, having traveled countless miles, meeting all sorts of different
creatures, both familiar and foreign, and being tested in battle and by a
slew of imaginative puzzles. The Great Deku Tree. Dodongo’s Cavern.
Jabu Jabu’s Belly. The Water Temple (oh God, the Water Temple). Your
premier foray into any of these environments isn’t easily forgotten, and
the dungeons comprise only a fraction of the fantastical pleasures
found in Ocarina of Time, a game that’s not just a game, but the birth of a memory that will be held dear for eternity.  LeChevallier

New Xbox 360 emulator for Xbox One

I also remembered the xbox 360 had a xbox emulator.

Millions of people made investments in 360 content,” he said. “We thought the right thing to do was to make that content go forward, but we didn’t know [how difficult it would be].”

“[Emulation] is hard,” admitted Spencer, explaining that the company was dealing with having to harmonise PowerPC architecture with x86.

“The approach that we’ve taken is to actually emulate the full Xbox 360 hardware layer. So the [operating system] for the 360 is actually running when you run the game,” Spencer explained.

“If you watch the game’s boot you’ll see the Xbox 360 boot animation come up. From a performance standpoint it allows [emulation] to work. We’re able to get frame by frame performance equivalents.”

“[Xbox Live] thinks you’re on a 360, so people have been asking ‘hey, why are you playing Mass Effect on the 360?,’ I was actually playing on the Xbox One.”

Spencer continued to explain that, since the Xbox One thinks it’s playing a normal game, features such as streaming and screenshots are supported.

“The 360 games think they’re running on the 360 OS, which they are. And the 360 OS thinks its running on the hardware, which it’s not, it’s running on an emulated VM. On the other side, the Xbox One thinks it’s a game. That’s why things like streaming, game DVR, and screenshots all work, because it thinks there’s just one big game called 360.”

Delving deeper, Spencer explained exactly how the emulator packages the Xbox 360 games, and how it compares to Xbox 360’s emulation of original Xbox games.

“You download a kind of manifest of wrapper for the 360 game, so we can say ‘hey, this is actually Banjo, or this is Mass Effect. The emulator runs exactly the same for all the games.

“I was around when we did the original Xbox [backwards compatibility] for Xbox 360

where we had a shim for every game and it just didn’t scale very well. This is actually the same emulator running for all of the games. Different games do different things, as we’re rolling them out we’ll say ‘oh maybe we have to tweak the emulator.’ But in the end, the emulator is emulating the 360, so it’s for everybody.”

Asked about whether Microsoft would require permission from game publishers to adjust game code, Spencer clarified it would not be interfering with code.

“The bits are not touched,” he said. “There’s some caveats, and as always I like to be as transparent as I can be on this: Kinect games won’t work from the 360, because translating between the Kinect sensors is almost impossible.”

Finally, the subject of multi-disc games was also addressed. According to Spencer, it’s an issue engineers are looking into.

“We’re still working on multi-disc,” he said. “Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon are some of my favourites from the 360. There’s actually work in packing a multi-disc into single that requires us to go back and look at the original package on the multiple discs and reconfigure that.”

Microsoft announced Xbox One backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games at its E3 press conference. According to the platform holder digital Xbox 360 titles already purchased via XBLA, as well as retail discs of last-gen titles, will eventually be “natively” playable on Xbox One.

PCSX2 full speed is an absolute blast.

I can play 100% of my PS1 and PS2 games on PC with a Dual Shock 3 or Sixaxis. Games work at 60 fps and are fully playable.   I checked this emulator out in 2008, but now it works 60 fps on older hardware.  PCSX2 also uses the Radeon’s anti-alasing.   This should save my ps2 a bit longer.  I have JRPGs and other games.  I needed to burn the isos. I wonder how long it takes until PCSX3 PS3 emulator is out. This is added to my huge Rom collection. I used to play Sega Saturn games on the SSF emulator.

Valerie Jarrett

Newly released FBI documents confirm, just like President Obama, hard-core communism runs deep in the family of his most influential and trusted advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Ms. Jarrett is the one some describe as Mr. Obama’s puppet-master…the wind beneath his wings…the real president.

The FBI documents reveal Ms. Jarrett’s late father, James E. Bowman, was in contact with a paid Soviet agent wanted for espionage and was also involved with communist front groups in the 1950s. Her mother’s father, Robert Rochon Taylor, was in a business relationship with the same Soviet agent linked to her father and also investigated by the FBI for his affiliation in communist groups. The FBI also flagged Ms. Jarrett’s late father-in-law, Vernon D. Jarrett, as a domestic security risk, raising money and openly supporting communist candidates. He was assigned by Communist Party USA to a special cultural arts group whose mission was to propagate the Communist Party line through indoctrination using the media of the day, including newspapers and radio.

In a nutshell, according to the FBI file, Ms. Jarrett’s relatives were heavily involved with a group, Communist Party USA, whose mission was to fundamentally transform the American form of government and way of life.

The FBI report finally gives proof to support what many who’ve watched this White House with eyes wide open have long suspected: The children of communists are running our country in a way that would make their folks proud. But, to quote Hillary Clinton, using her most-annoying-sound-in-the-world-Benghazi-screech: “What difference does it make?” To answer, it makes a world of difference, considering there is no such thing as good communism, just bad and worse.

So does our upbringing matter? Do the things our parents say and do influence us long-term? Can we control our behavior, or does our behavior control us, thanks to what’s passed on to us by our parents, and theirs? President Obama seems to think it does. During a recent podcast interview with comedian Marc Maron, the president suggested America has nearly a genetic bent toward racism; intimating discrimination is “still part of our DNA.” With that logic, maybe it was the “devilish” white half of Mr. Obama’s “DNA” that coerced him to use the “N-word” during the same podcast. Maybe that logic should be applied to Mr. Obama’s and Ms. Jarrett’s anti-American upbringing

An enlightening article at ethicsusa.org, “Ten Reasons to Teach Your Children Values,” highlights that children learn their value systems from their parents and learn to become “ethical decision makers when parents focus on ethics, not just rules.” That’s why people like Mr. Obama can justify their “evolution” on things like gay marriage, allowing the rule of law to overrule what is morally right. Someone failed to teach him and certain members of the Supreme Court that what’s legal does not necessarily make it ethical.

Good or bad, it’s what we choose to do with what we learned from our parents that matters. You see, ever since Eve’s first bite of Eden’s forbidden fruit, mankind’s had a genetic bent toward isms like racism and communism that we’ll never rise above without Divine intervention…repentance…grace. That’s how family members of the massacred South Carolinians were able to gracefully extend genuine forgiveness to the alleged shooter last week. It’s the kind of grace President Obama sang about at the eulogy in South Carolina, but is glaringly absent in word and deed when he’s dealing with those to which he disagrees.

Sadly, it seems rather than rising above their own ancestor’s sins, Mr. Obama and Ms. Jarrett proudly stand on their shoulders. Indeed, the sins of our ancestors are carried on generationally, but only when we choose to allow it.

Working for Harold Washington

After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, she went to work for Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, whose election many Sixties radicals attributed to themselves. After Washington’s death in 1987, she stayed on under his successor, Richard Daley. In City Hall, she and her colleague Susan Sher recruited Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama, and Jarrett quickly melded her way into their lives.

Business Career

Jarrett became the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007. She had served as Executive Vice President of Habitat for 12 years. Prior to that, Jarrett served for eight years in Chicago government as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Before her city government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms. From 1995 to 2003, Jarrett served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. Jarrett also served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange from April 2004 through April 2007. She was a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from January 2006 through April 2007.[1]

Housing Controversy

Jarrett is the chief executive of The Habitat Company which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems. Officials at Woodlawn Preservation say the government didn’t give them enough money to properly maintain Grove Parc. Habitat’s Jarrett declined to comment on Grove Parc in particular but said it is hard to manage something you don’t own. However other Chicago developers and housing activists said that federal subsidies can be adequate if managed properly. They said Grove Parc stood apart for how badly it fell into disrepair.[4]

Advocacy

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Jarrett served as a Director of corporate and not for profit boards, including Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Vice Chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees. She was a Director of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, and a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.

Hiring Michelle

Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama are close friends. Photo: NYT, Jan 2008

A former Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development under Harold Washington, Jarrett continued to work in the mayor’s office into the 1990s.

In 1991, while Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley, Jarrett hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama.

Finance responsibilities

Valerie Jarrett ran the finances for Obama’s 2004 Senate bid and served as treasurer of Obama’s HOPEFUND.

Friendship with Marilyn Katz

Marilyn Katz worked with Students for a Democratic Society. She is a personal friend of Jarrett’s.

Election Campaigns

2004 Election

Jarrett served as Finance Chair for President Obama’s 2004 run for the U.S. Senate.[1]

“Progressive” Cabinet “nominee”

In September 2008, Chicago based socialist journal In These Times asked its editors and writers to suggest their top progressive choices for a potential Obama Cabinet.[5]

We asked that contributors weigh ideological and political considerations, with an eye toward recommending people who have both progressive credentials and at least an arguable chance at being appointed in an Obama White House.

This group of people would represent at once the most progressive, aggressive and practical Cabinet in contemporary history. Of course, it is by no means a definitive list. It is merely one proposal aimed at starting a longer discussion about the very concept of a progressive Cabinet—and why it will be important to a new administration, especially if that administration is serious about change.

Laura Washington suggested Valerie Jarrett for Urban Development Secretary:

Valerie Jarrett’s blue-ribbon résumé delivers a potent blend of corporate, government and civic “street cred.”

Jarrett, 51, is CEO of the Habitat Co. — a clout-heavy Chicago real estate firm — and the court-appointed overseer of the city’s massive plan to transform its notoriously decrepit public housing developments.

A lawyer by trade, Jarrett has served as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deputy chief of staff and planning commissioner, and has chaired the boards of the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Stock Exchange.

In 1991, Jarrett recruited Obama’s then-fiancée Michelle Robinson, for a job in Daley’s office. But first Jarrett had to pass muster with Obama. They sealed the deal over dinner, and today, Jarrett is a tight family friend and indispensable Obama confidante.

She’s well prepared for the treacheries of the Washington Beltway. Jarrett has stood down an array of Chicago characters, like cranky transit riders, vociferous public housing activists and mendacious aldermen. Friend and foe consider her a no-nonsense, astute operative.

The first woman at Housing and Urban Development’s helm will need to navigate multiple threats to the American Dream of home ownership: the subprime loan debacle, an affordable-housing crisis and skyrocketing foreclosures, to name a few. Whatever her prescriptions, she’ll have the president’s ear.

Then again, Jarrett — who has been called “the other side of Obama’s brain” — may be better suited for a Karl Rove-ian role in the White House.

Adviser to President Obama

Valerie Jarrett

In an article in The Huffington Post on Sept. 21, 2007, reporter Lynn Sweet wrote about Valerie Jarrett’s influence on the then Senator, Barack Obama:

“She’s always been the other side of Barack’s brain.” That’s how an Obama insider described Valerie Jarrett as an Obama campaign aide announced Thursday night the former CTA chief and current Habitat Co. CEO is taking on a larger role to help her close friend win his White House bid.

The development comes as Jarrett, a charter member of Sen. Barack Obama’s kitchen cabinet, has been formalizing her portfolio and stepping up the pace within the past few weeks as a top advisor within the campaign.

Jarrett has a close, long relationship with both Barack and Michelle Obama. Like the Obamas, Jarrett is a South Sider with deep ties to the University of Chicago.

Though she will be part-time, Jarrett will be one of the most visible and powerful African-Americans in the top rungs of the Obama operation…

In an article by Robert Draper published on July 21, 2009 in the New York Times, Obama stated that he considered Jarrett as family, that she was like a sibbling to him, and that he trusted her completely. He further stated that he trusted Jarrett to speak for him, particularly when dealing with delicate issues, and runs every decision past her.

Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, Netroots Nation Convention August 12, 2009

Valerie Jarrett talked about Obama Green Jobs Czar Van Jones at the Netroots Nation Convention on August 12, 2009 . She was highly complimentary and stated “we were so delighted to be able recruit him into the White house” and “we’ve been watching him…for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland”.

Still in war, very lethal world, yet Gay Marriage sounds justified to the government

The President should be impeached, because the judicial branch cannot make laws.  Only Congress can make laws.   This is tyranny, because  Like Marxism-Leninism (New Party, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism), the Democratic Party wants an atheist state so the executive branch and judicial branch cannot make laws, but do so regardless.

course, Christians, as does the Christ to whom we belong, desire nothing of the sort. We want nothing short of eternal life for all humanity, including homosexuals. We are “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (see 2 Peter 3:9).

Now, Muslims, on the other hand …

The dhimmi left largely refuses to mention it, so I will. Homosexuals are, right now, actually being “lawfully executed” in Iran and other Muslim nations across the globe. To my fellow followers of Christ, I say this: They need our fervent prayers, deepest sympathies and unconditional support. Not in affirmation of their sexual sin, which the homosexual lifestyle remains, but because they are victims of Islam – because they are deeply loved by their Creator, Christ Jesus, who wants desperately for them to repent, accept Him and believe upon His Holy Name.

It’s a strange dichotomy. “Progressive” propaganda notwithstanding, and absent the rare anecdotal exception, homosexuals are decidedly not being persecuted in the West. In fact, homosexual activists wield unparalleled political power in both Europe and North America. This power, and its universal abuse, is on display for all to see. Truth be told, if someone, anyone other than a Muslim that is, even looks sideways at a homosexual, it becomes a liberal cause célèbre. It’s front-page news.

Indeed, the self-styled arbiters of “tolerance” and “diversity” are the most intolerant and monolithic among us. Their anti-Christian bigotry is well documented. Homosexual activists are frequently the crème de la crème of these left-wing extremist goose-steppers. Their hatred and intimidation of any who dare disagree are especially nasty.

By contrast, in the West it is Christians and conservatives who are discriminated against, bullied, hated, publicly mocked, fired from jobs and even threatened with jail time for acknowledging God’s natural design and moral mandate for human sexuality. It’s tyranny of the minority, and it’s reaching unprecedented heights.

Still, in Muslim nations both Christians and homosexuals are persecuted. That’s Islam. Each are systemically jailed, tortured and even executed. Curiously, it’s the same cowardly leftists who disingenuously accuse Christians of “anti-gay hate” at home who remain silent while homosexuals are, in point of fact, tortured to death by Muslims abroad.

Now that is hate.

Both this silence, and the burgeoning anti-Christian persecution by “progressives” in the West, is due, in part, to the fact that orthodox Christians, who are Spiritually imbued with the love of Christ, are perceived as soft targets, while orthodox Muslims, who are spiritually imbued with the hate of Muhammad, are not.

In other words, bullies steer clear from picking fights with bigger bullies.

But it’s also because Christ is Truth. Truth is the enemy of “progressivism,” just as Truth is the enemy of Islam. They each derive from an antichrist spirit.

Even so, Muslims in the Middle East missed the “Hey-we’re-on-the-same-side-here!” memo. While politically correct “progressives” will trip over themselves to avoid criticizing Islam and, with perplexing incongruity, even promote it, adherents to “the religion of peace” will gleefully murder them while they do so.

Islamic apologist and suspected Muslim Barack Hussein Obama is exhibit “A.” If Islamists blew up the White House and the Pentagon (my bad, they already nailed the Pentagon), he’d blame it on the Christian Crusades, the Inquisition and “right-wing extremists.”

No, really, he would.

A few years back, homosexual columnist Andrew Sullivan declared Barack Obama to be “the first gay president.” While this was intended to be a compliment, meaning that Obama had fully embraced and unilaterally implemented the political demands of “LGBT” pressure groups, it turned out to be a premature accolade. Consider the indisputable fact that our “gay president’s” BFFs in Iran summarily execute those they suspect of practicing homosexuality. Whether they catch you cold in the bathhouse, or you simply walk with a wisp and speak with a lisp, if they even suspect you’re a homosexual, the Iranian government will publicly hang you as a matter of official government policy. These are the evil tyrants with whom our own evil tyrant chooses to play footsie – the Islamic terrorists he intends to arm with nuclear weapons.

Pick a side, Barry. Is it the “gays” or the Muslims? You can’t swing both ways on this one.

Recently, CNN reported similar details on the Islamic State. ISIS is now executing suspected homosexuals with even greater fanfare:

“Three men on top of a building, faces covered in black balaclavas, stand on either side of their victim, while a fourth seems to be taking a photo or video.

“Their victim is thrown off the building. In the last photograph, he is seen face down, surrounded by a small crowd of men, most carrying weapons, some with rocks in their hands. The caption reads ‘stoned to death.’

“The victim brutally killed because he was accused of being gay.”

This weekend I am honored to once again share the stage with the who’s who of America’s Christian leadership at The Awakening 2015 Prayer and Patriotism event in Orlando Florida. Among the featured speakers is the Rev. Franklin Graham. In recent years, Rev. Graham has emerged as one of the Christian world’s foremost defenders against threats posed by both radical Islam and radical “progressivism.” He’s also a loving defender of the self-described “LGBT community.” I say defender, because, rather than enabling them in their self-destructive, sin-centered lifestyle, he fearlessly shares with them the truth of where that lifestyle will inevitably lead and to whom, exclusively, they can and must turn to escape its spiritual dead end.

“A recent news report shows Islamists throwing gays off rooftops and then stoning them when they hit the ground,” Graham recently posted on Facebook. “Does this sound like a peaceful religion to you, as the president has said?”

While refusing to waiver on the biblical truth that homosexual behavior is sin, Graham went on to share the hope found in Christ alone.

“I love gay and lesbian people,” he wrote, “and I want them to know that God loves them too, and He is willing and eager to forgive sin – all sin – however, we must repent and turn from our sin and believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Amen, Rev. Graham. This is our prayer for homosexuals, the Muslims who kill them and every other living soul on earth.

Linux Mint 17.1 review

The Linux Mint team recently released Linux Mint 17.1—a somewhat
minor but still welcome upgrade to the Ubuntu-based ecosystem. And while
Linux Mint 17.1 arrives as it usually does (a few weeks after the
release of a new version of Ubuntu), version 17.1 is not based
on Ubuntu’s latest effort, 14.10. Instead, this edition of Mint remains
tied to the last Long Term Support (LTS) release, Ubuntu 14.04.

This
marks the first time Linux Mint has not used the newest version of
Ubuntu for a release. But if you paid attention to the curious approach
of Linux Mint 17.0, you’ll know that was the plan all along. These days,
Mint will not be changing its Ubuntu base again until the
next LTS release—Ubuntu 16.04—arrives in 2016. And at first glance,
it might seem like a bad thing. After all, Mint is missing out on
whatever new stuff is in Ubuntu 14.10 (in this case it’s not much, but
15.04 will have plenty of changes).
However, Mint 17.1 is in fact a very good sign for fans of the
distro’s own tools, like its homegrown Cinnamon desktop. By relying on a
consistent LTS release, Mint developers can more or less ignore the
base system. Instead of spending all their time and effort making sure
whatever Ubuntu has changed works with Mint, they can focus on what
makes the ecosystem great—namely, its two primary desktops, MATE and
Cinnamon.

Linux Mint 17.1—a new leaf

While most of what’s new in Mint 17.1 will be seen in the updated
desktops, there are some common components to both Cinnamon and MATE.
While accessing some of these new tools varies slightly by desktop, the
results are the same in both. Right away, you’ll notice the login screen
is among these new and improved elements.

If you start the Mint installation process and walk away, you’ll
likely come back to an image slideshow that’s slowly flipping through
all the various wallpapers that Mint 17.1 offers. The choices are
vast, since Mint 17.1 contains not only wallpapers that are new with
this release but all the options that came with every previous Mint
release. Suffice it to say that if you need an aesthetic desktop
refresh, Mint 17.1 has you covered.

Enlarge / The new Mint 17.1 login screen, complete with slideshow controls.

The slideshow is a nice touch, and you can control how it behaves
with the Login Window Preferences menu. This menu now has Theme, Auto
Login, and Options items to access different settings. There’s also a
theme preview button to test out other available choices (or any options
you install yourself).

While the newly polished login screen is nice, a far more useful
change comes in the form of a revamped Update Manager. Mint has been
refining this for some time now. The last release
saw the introduction of some new icons and a numbered rating system
that lets you know which updates are essential and which can be safely
ignored. Mint 17.1 builds on those improvements with a new feature that
groups package updates together based on source package.

That is, rather than just list every new package that’s going to be
updated, Mint 17.1 will group everything you need to update in a single
package—say, LibreOffice—into one line in the Update Manager. Select the
update and you can see the individual packages listed in the bottom
pane. If you want more information on what’s new, there’s a Changelog
tab that will download details on what’s new in that package.

Enlarge / Mint 17.1’s Update Manager.

The new grouping system will help users avoid selectively updating
packages and potentially breaking the whole because not every necessary
part is up to date. Mint’s lead developer Clement Lefebvre described how
it used to be on the distro’s site: “When a developer fixes a bug or
writes new features, the source code is modified and all packages which
are related to it become available under a new version… it is
therefore futile and sometimes dangerous to apply some package updates
and not others within the same source package.” But because Mint 17.1
groups updates, you’ll never apply something incomplete. It’s now
considerably easier to review exactly what’s being updated in each
source package because everything is shown together in one place.

Among other notable tweaks, the Update Manager in Linux Mint 17.1
features a redesigned kernels menu that makes it easier to see security
updates and any regressions in each kernel update. Linux Mint 17.1 also
ships with a new font, Google’s Noto font, which is Google’s attempt to
create a font family that supports all the world’s languages. And while
the trademark minty green is still the default, Mint’s theme gets quite
an overhaul in this release. Those that don’t like the default green can
banish it in favor of quite a few new colors, and there are a number of
dark-on-light theme options available if the default light-on-dark
interface isn’t what you want.

As noted previously, this release sticks with the Ubuntu 14.04 base,
meaning the kernel is v3.13. That’s a little behind what most distros
released in the last couple of months are using. If you’re already
running Mint 17 without issues, then you’ll likely be fine with 3.13.
The main issue you may run into is if you have any brand new hardware
that requires a newer kernel for full support.

On the other hand, one bit of hardware that does get some love in
this release is the single-button trackpad (like, for example, those
used in Apple laptops). If you’re planning to run Mint on a Macbook of
some kind, this release is a must-have. Be sure to check out the new
Mouse and Touchpad panel in the System Settings, which now allows you to
configure which actions apply to two-finger and three-finger clicks (by
default it’s right and middle click, respectively).

Cinnamon is Mint’s homegrown flagship desktop. If you’re not
interested in new approaches to the desktop like those being pioneered
by Ubuntu’s Unity or GNOME 3’s Shell interface, Cinnamon offers a more
traditional interface based on familiar ideas like a task bar and main
menu. Cinnamon is not breaking any new ground on the UI front, but it’s
polished, fast, and reliable.

We’ve been using Cinnamon nearly full time for quite a few releases
now. When it first arrived, it was the desktop you knew had potential,
but it was buggy enough to create a bash alias to restart things after a
crash. Thankfully those days are long gone, and Cinnamon has been rock
solid in use ever since Mint 15.

For Mint 17.1, Cinnamon has been updated to version 2.4. This release
focuses on reducing memory use and speeding things up. While Cinnamon
will never be as lightweight as something like LXDE or Openbox, Cinnamon
2.4 is considerably snappier than its predecessor, even on underpowered
hardware like my aging Asus EeePC 1005.

When you install the Cinnamon version of Mint 17.1, once you get past
the slideshow login screen you’ll be greeted with yet another new
animation—a GNOME-inspired desktop zoom that gives the Cinnamon boot
experience a more polished feel. It’s a small thing, but it sets the
tone quite nicely for Cinnamon 2.4. The Cinnamon interface remains
light-on-dark by default, but as noted earlier, there are numerous new
theme options and colors to customize things to your liking (most GTK 2
and 3 themes should work as well).

Among the more visual changes in this release are a slew of new
features in Nemo, Cinnamon’s file manager. The latest version of Nemo
adds support for colored folders, new ways to customize the sidebar, and
what Mint calls “emblems.”

Enlarge / Adding color and emblems to the Documents folder.

The emblems are little sub-icons that are displayed on top of the
base icon—for example, the musical note emblem overlays the Music folder
by default. You can now apply any emblem to any folder or file. The
emblems make it a little easier to find the folder or file you’re
looking for in the sidebar or list views (as do the new colored folder
options). The emblems and colors would be even better if they showed up
in open/save dialogs in other apps, but unfortunately they do not.

Nemo’s toolbar has been redesigned, and its buttons are now
configurable. For example, there’s an especially handy button that will
open a terminal window in the current directory. It’s not there by
default, but you can enable it under Edit > Preferences.

Enlarge / Customizing Nemo’s toolbar.

The Cinnamon settings panel has been revamped for this release, with
panes now displayed in alphabetical order within each section. There are
also a couple of new panes, including one for controlling
notifications. The Privacy pane is particularly of note, as it’s based
on the same tool in GNOME 3 and allows you to control how long recent
items are stored.

Other improvements in Cinnamon 2.4 include support for multiple panel
launchers, improvements in the sound applet, and the usual slew of bug
fixes that come with any major update. Between the new features, themes,
added polish, and speed improvements, Cinnamon 2.4 feels (to at least
one Linux enthusiast) like simply the best desktop to use on any OS,
including Windows and OS X.

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE desktop

The MATE desktop began life as a fork of GNOME 2, a response to GNOME
3’s radical departure from GNOME 2. Since then, MATE has gone on to
become very much its own thing

That’s not to say that the latest, MATE 1.8, has strayed too far from
its GNOME 2 roots. This release is still aimed at GNOME 2 fans and
those looking for a lightweight but full-featured desktop. In fact,
those GNOME roots are strengthened in this release with the addition of
Compiz support. Yes, it’s true, MATE and Compiz can be joined for a
return to the halcyon days of rotating cubes and wobbly windows.

Enlarge / Compiz and MATE, together at last.

To keep MATE true to its lightweight past, Compiz is not enabled out
of the box, but turning it on is just a matter of opening Desktop
Settings > Windows and switching from the default Marco window
manager to Compiz. MATE will warn you that Compiz’s Settings Manager is a
powerful tool capable of rendering your desktop unusable, but once you
ignore that, you’ll be able to tweak and break Compiz just like you did
when Ubuntu 8.10 was the best thing in Linux.

Enlarge / Compiz and MATE… you’ve been warned.

That said, we would not recommend using Compiz with MATE. We found
the Compiz support to be a bit buggy, and of course Compiz requires more
powerful hardware, which negates part of the appeal of MATE. If you
want more bang for your desktop buck, go with Cinnamon. That is, unless
you really love rotating cubes and wobbly windows. In that case, perhaps
you’ll have better luck.

The Mint-X theme options mentioned earlier give you a few new ways to
customize MATE, and the new font provides better support for some
languages (CJK in particular). Under the hood, this iteration comes with
some bug fixes and stability improvements as well.

If you pine for the days of GNOME 2, complete with Compiz wobbly
windows and the rest of the desktop effects that once said “this is a
Linux desktop,” then MATE 2 fits the bill. If you prefer a lightweight
desktop that just stays simple and out of the way, MATE is still a great
choice… just stick with the default Marco window manager.

Mint 17.1 software stack

When Mint first announced its intention to stick with an Ubuntu 14.04
base for a few years, many users were concerned about what that would
mean for application updates. As noted, the kernel is not as up to date
as what you’ll find in the latest version of Ubuntu, openSUSE, or the
upcoming Fedora 21.

On the application front, though, things are looking much better.
Mint continues to ship with just about everything you need for
all-around desktop use, and it even includes some useful apps often left
out of other distros by default (like GIMP and VLC). Note, however,
that this does make the Mint DVD a little on the large size (1.4GB for
the Cinnamon DVD).

Both the Cinnamon and MATE versions of Mint 17.1 ship with the latest
stable versions of all its included apps: Firefox, LibreOffice,
Banshee, VLC and other common applications. Apparently Mint can keep its
base system and eat its application updates, too.

Small, but upgraded for a reason

Mint 17.1 is well worth the upgrade, though as Lefebvre writes in a post on how to upgrade from Mint 17, you should “upgrade for a reason.”

“As excited as we are about 17.1, upgrading blindly for the sake of
running the latest version does not make much sense, especially if
you’re already happy with 17 and everything is working perfectly,” the
post says.

That refreshing bit of pragmatism is worth keeping in mind regardless
of which distro or desktop you use. But again, we had no trouble at all
upgrading from Mint 17—everything is once again working perfectly. All
you need to do is open Update Manager and head to the Edit menu, where
you should see an option to “upgrade to Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca.”

The only problem we’ve encountered so far in use is the known bug
involving problems with Skype on 64-bit versions of Mint 17.1.
Fortunately, there’s already an easy fix.

Linux Mint 17.1 will receive security updates until 2019, and until
2016, all Mint releases will continue to use the same base package
system, AKA Ubuntu 14.04. So far, abandoning the newest base for an LTS
option looks promising. Moving from 17 to 17.1 has proved painless,
which means that upgrading to 17.2 and beyond should be more of the
(delightful) same.

Videogames bigger than movies

The majority of video games in the U.S. are purchased and played by adults. The largest titles make money that Hollywood films could only dream of raking in, and the biggest players in the industry run multibillion-dollar multinational operations that employ thousands of people. Yet many consumers still think of gaming as a kid’s thing that doesn’t merit serious consideration or scrutiny. In an age where our culture recognizes previously sniffed-about industries like professional sports as much more than child’s play, it’s time to get over that same hump about video games.

Games, like film, TV, and literature before them, are commercialized art and products of our culture. They can be great or terrible, memorable or forgettable, and everything in between. They can be five minutes of dreck you play on your phone on the bus, or 500 hours of life-changing tramping around a richly imagined virtual world.

In 2013 alone they were also a $21 billion business in the U.S. And still, in the rare instance that the nightly news even mentions video games, it’s likely to be an ill-informed pundit grandstanding about violence in games, or video footage of “booth babes” and cosplayers at a convention, without considering the huge amount of money, time, and people involved.

This week, as they do every June, about 50,000 video game industry professionals and game-focused media will descend on Los Angeles for E3.

Nominally a trade industry conference, E3 has for nearly 20 years been not just a trade show but rather, a caffeine-fueled orgy of blazing virtual guns, polygon-count comparisons, and top-volume trailers for the Next Big Game.

By the numbers…

• 59% of Americans play video games

• 51% of all American households have a dedicated video game console

• 58% of all American adults have a smartphone

• 71% of players are over age 18

• 81% of young adults ages 18-29 play games

• 23% of seniors over age 65 play games

• 48% of players are girls or women

• 36% of players are women over age 18

• 17% of players are boys under age 18

Sources: Nielsen, Pew, and the ESA.

Large international companies dominate the show floor, with smaller developers scattered through hundreds of side-rooms, all of them holding endless screenings, demos, and interviews, clamoring for attention.

Major tech companies like Sony and Microsoft use the event not just to show off their games but also to announce major hardware launches, like last year’s PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

But why does it matter, you might ask? Why do so many people get so caught up in the announcements, the trailers, the projections, the marketing, and the hype? Why should anyone except the most hardcore of console enthusiasts care about a single word that comes out of the L.A. Convention Center this week?

Because despite the lingering popular conception of video games as child’s play — and, specifically, boy’s toys — they are anything but. The business is, well, serious business.

What Does A Gamer Look Like?

There is a tendency almost toward ethnography in the mainstream media whenever video games come up.

Earnest news anchors and reporters approach “the gamer” as a heretofore unknown species, a sub-type of aggressive young man whose befuddled mother doesn’t understand his “Nintendo” but who nonetheless stands a very good chance of growing up to be a productive member of society.

And sure, teenage boys like to play video games. But the truth of the matter is, they are far from alone.

In 2014, one might as well talk about a “TV-er” or a “movie-er” as a “gamer.”

About 59% of Americans play video games, according to estimates from the ESA (the gaming industry’s major trade and lobbying group).

Some quick math says that in a country of about 315 million, that’s just shy of 186 million players.

How does that compare to other media?

Movies: about 68% of Americans (214m) see movies in the theater (MPAA – PDF)

Cable: roughly 100 million Americans have paid-TV (cable/satellite/fiber) subscriptions

Premium cable: Game of Thrones, considered wildly successful, has about 18 million viewers per week.

Broadcast TV: The top-rated show the week of May 19 (ABC’s Dancing With The Stars) drew 15.5 million viewers

Netflix: Had a little over 33 million U.S. subscribers at the end of 2013.

Games now are at least as mainstream as any other pop culture in our fragmented media landscape.

Who’s playing? Pretty much everyone.

Having “a Nintendo” just isn’t what it used to be. In 2014, there are lots of players competing in the video game space — but the biggest competitor is one that makes the smallest devices.

It’s Not Just Shooters

The following list of 2013’s best-selling console games makes it clear that while big-budget, violent blockbusters are big business, so too are plenty of other kinds of games:

Grand Theft Auto V

Call Of Duty: Ghosts

Madden NFL 2015

Battlefield 4

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

NBA 2K14

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

Just Dance 2014

Minecraft

Disney Infinity

According to ESA data, 32% of 2013’s top games were “action” and another 20% were specifically shooters, meaning half of all top-selling games fell outside of those two categories.

For PC-only games, strategy (38%) and casual (28%) titles take the day, while shooters and action titles together come to less than 10%.

Enter Apple, and the more than 500 million iPhones they’ve sold since 2007. Sure, mobile devices let us use Facebook and access mobile boarding passes and stream video and all the rest — but what they mostly let us do is play games.

In 2013, the most-downloaded and highest-grossing iOS app — ahead of YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, SnapChat, and Instagram — was Candy Crush Saga.

Candy Crush has seen its star fall a bit since it dominated the mobile airwaves last year, granted. But when publisher King prepared for their IPO this March, they claimed 408 million monthly active users.

That’s not 408 million people who downloaded the app once because some friend told them to and forgot about it; that’s players who actually open it and play the game somewhat regularly.

Predictably, Candy Crush and other “casual” puzzle, card, trivia, and social (think Words With Friends) games dominate mobile gaming. But what of all the “traditional” console and PC players out there?

Back in the land of “traditional” or “hardcore” gaming, the field is more evenly split.

Microsoft has sold about 83 million Xbox 360s, Sony’s sold a similar 80 million PlayStation 3 systems, and Steam, the most heavily-used PC gaming service, has over 75 million users.

Specifically tracking who’s playing what and where can be very difficult. Although every publisher knows exactly how many copies of every game it’s sold, the numbers are rarely public. And while the numbers of physical retail copies — the actual discs– of games sold are closely tracked, physical copies now account for less than half (47%) of estimated video game spending.

Although in 2014 the major industry market research group has started tracking digital sales, for the most part that remaining 53% remains largely mysterious, as each digital storefront — including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and other, smaller outlets — keeps its own numbers proprietary.

Billions… With A B

There is a whole enormous world of cheap and free small, independently developed and produced games out there.

But, as with movies and books, the big-budget blockbusters tend to make headlines and grab attention.

When Grand Theft Auto V launched, it reached $1 billion in sales in three days.

Seeing a large studio spend between $50 and $100 million on a video game is no longer uncommon. The most expensive video game produced so far is Grand Theft Auto V, which cost a reported $265 million to make.

That puts the big-budget blockbuster games about on par with big-budget blockbuster films, money-wise. Legendarily pricey Avatar probably cost Fox about $280 million, and three years later Disney spent a reported $220 million on The Avengers. So GTA V fits right in that range.

But gaming publishers, like Hollywood studios, are finding that the rate of return on that ludicrously large investment can sometimes be worth the risk.

In the history of the American box office, there are 18 movies that have grossed $1 billion or higher. The fastest to do it was Avatar, which hit the 10-digit gross mark in a scant 17 days.

When Grand Theft Auto V launched last September, it reached $1 billion in sales in three days.

That’s three days. Less than a week. The game hit store shelves and digital storefronts on Tuesday morning, and by Friday had sold $1 billion worth of copies.

Even acknowledging that many of the sales were pre-orders that took place over the months beforehand, and even accepting that a $60 game reaches money-based milestones faster than a $10 movie ticket does, that’s ridiculously fast. The previous record-holder was 2011’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which cruised to an easy 15-day billion after making the first half in just 24 hours.

But smaller-budget games, in the mobile-friendly era, can make bank even more reliably than their big-budget cousins. Those “free” Facebook and mobile apps, laden with microtransactions and $0.99 shortcuts, are cash cows for their publishers.

The specific numbers are tightly-guarded, but back in February, a hacker released what was allegedly the financial information from mega-hit Clash of Clans (the new Candy Crush Saga, as these things go).

Nobody verified the data, so it’s worth taking with a grain of salt, but the images released claimed that developer Supercell takes in $5 million per day from its free-to-play games.

How The Game Makers Fail Gamers

Whenever there are billions of dollars at stake, there are companies who will try to make a few million more by cutting corners and not caring how it harms workers or consumers.

For example, video game publisher EA managed to take Consumerist’s Worst Company In America trophy two years running before losing out to Time Warner Cable (and ultimately, to Comcast) this spring.

That’s a lot of ill-will for an entertainment media company to have built up over a few years, particularly as their games remain generally well-liked top sellers. But when consumers vent their hostility at the way EA has treated them, they have ample targets just from the last 2-3 years:

The class-action price-fixing suit in which EA was found to be “anticompetitive” with its sports games

The complete and utter debacle of the always-online (until it wasn’t) SimCity (2013) launch

Using college athletes’ likenesses without their permission to sell more sports games

Slyly trying to discourage negative reviews of a (pretty terrible) mobile game

Allegedly knowing ahead of time a $60 game was shipping with game-breaking bugs and lying about it

As games become more popular, more ephemeral, and more and more part of a streaming on-demand or rental-access future, consumers have more chances to get screwed over and less opportunity for recourse, meaning game publishers will only continue to ship more titles that are broken and incomplete.

If the movie studios sent films to theaters with missing reels and promised to send out the missing minutes a within a few weeks of release, it would be front page news.

If book publishers knowingly sent out books with screwed-up page numbers and chapters in the wrong order with the promise that you’d get a fixed version in a month or so, and another fixed version a few weeks later, then another, and another, no one would buy books anymore.

We should be holding video game publishers to the same standards.