Top 10 greatest moments in games culture of the decade

There’s a bunch of game review websites doing their top 10 best games of either the year or the decade right now. I’m continually moved towards thinking that games that are inherently good can only be great through a combination of intrinsic qualities and external player dispositions, situations, settings, and communities. In other words, I’m inclined towards thinking about gaming moments rather than the game artifacts themselves. To take that thought further, I think what’s even more compelling are moments that stem from the culture around games. And so, here are some great moments that speak of our growing, diversifying (yet also moving towards homogeneity), deeply intricate games culture of the past decade.

I had meant to do a top 10 list, but there’s no way I can think of the best candidates in one sitting, so I’ll start with these and add as people comment (here, via Twitter, via Facebook, or via Google Reader). No particular order:

[Note Dec 18:] It seems like two categories can be made out of the list, those that are trends and those that are specific moments. I’ve tried to keep it to specific moments, but it’s blurry. Also, it’s of course subjective, and, apparently, I have short-term memory since most of these are from the past 5 years.

  1. 2007: Very touching story about a mom who sent letters to her son through Animal Crossing. The story is touching. The fact that the letters might have been auto-generated, well… it’s still a touching story. Read about it (joystiq) or watch the story (YTMND).
  2. 2004: “Bow, nigger” and New Games Journalism.
  3. 2008: Project Chanology and Anonymous. Ok, technically not exactly games specific, but its basically griefing writ large. Good summary of griefing: Julian Dibbell’s article in Wired on Patriotic Nigras and Second Life (yay, guildmate!).
  4. Terra Nova blog (speaking of guildmates). Games (virtual worlds) culture needs people to write about it. Read all about trading real-world currency for in-game gold and items, for example.
  5. 2006: Million Gnome March in World of Warcraft.
  6. 2006 and 2007: South Park episodes on WoW (info) (video) and Guitar Hero (info) (video). Good example of gaming hopping into other media. (via Jen Stone)
  7. Settlers of Catan more popular than Monopoly and taking top selling toys and games spot on Amazon. (via Chris Ferejohn)
  8. 2005: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Hot Coffee controversy. (via Sean Duncan)
  9. Pro gaming actually exists. Eg, Fatal1ty featured on MTV and owns h1s own product l1ne.
  10. MC Chris’s, Fett’s Vette in Star Wars Galaxy machinima. First, it’s an example of nerdcore hip hop (also see MC Frontalot and MC Lars). Second, it’s an example of machinima. Third, it’s an example of how all these different media are bleeding into each other.

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