bestnom1000x50

Battle royal: Introducing the Laser Orgy 500, the Phoenix's attempt to crown the best game of all time

GO VOTE NOW:  The Laser Orgy 500.

It all began, as most of our ideas do, with a silly argument at the Phoenix office. I don’t remember who started it, or even what got us going — but I do know that we found ourselves debating the relative merits of the educational PC games we all played when we were in elementary school in the 1980s. Most of my colleagues cited Oregon Trail as the gold standard, whereas I took the position that Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? was the superior product. And I stand by that — Oregon Trail isn’t really much of a game. The strategy is minimal. I don’t think I learned much about life as a pioneer moving West. The Carmen Sandiego games required genuine detective work, and you uncovered some neat facts about geography in the process.

But I digress. The point is, we realized we were getting worked up over two relatively insignificant games — none of us actually liked either Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego. Our thought: imagine this same level of intensity applied to non-educational games?

So that’s what we’re trying to do with THE LASER ORGY 500 — we’re trying to determine the best video game of all time. We’re not trusting a small panel of gaming pointyheads with this weighty task. Instead, we’re leaving it to our readers to decide. Having loaded more than 500 games into our battle engine (which you can find at thephoenix.com/laserorgy500), we’ll be pitting them against each other, head-to-head, Thunderdome style. Two games enter, one will leave. These battles will be generated randomly, and they’ll cross genres and eras, so you could find yourself having to choose between Pong and Starcraft II. Fair fight? Of course not. But it comes down to a simple question: which would you rather play? We’ll tabulate the results and count down your picks for the Top 100 both online and in print. Look for the results in early December.

Why do this now? Well, first of all, why not? But there are some good reasons in 2010 to examine games as a cultural phenomenon.

GAMES ARE MAINSTREAM NOW. As recently as a few years ago, gaming was derided as the domain of malnourished shut-ins and other socially maladjusted types. These days, the stereotype of the snot-nosed, nearsighted, noodle-armed gamer couldn’t be less accurate, as anyone who’s stood in line at a Gamestop behind a no-neck fratboy picking up his copy of Halo can attest. If the anecdotal evidence doesn’t convince you, there’s data to back it up. Consider that in consecutive years we crowned a new “fastest-selling game of all time,” Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008 followed by Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. The latter had racked up more than $1 billion in sales as of January.

GAMES HAVE HAD A PRETTY GOOD RUN LATELY. No matter which side you come down on in the tired, silly question of whether games are art, I think we can all agree that they’re doing some fascinating things with visuals, storytelling, and gameplay. Even if you prefer less heady fare, like Plants vs. Zombies, you’re still looking at something more advanced than Frogger. But that said. . . .

PEOPLE REALLY LOVE OLD GAMES. And we include ourselves in this. It’s just damn difficult to resist the charms of games from the 8- and 16-bit eras. We could go on for days about our old favorites. But it’s one thing to engage in nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake; what we’re asking here is, “Were the good old days really so good?” Do we expect to get the definitive answer to that age-old question? Do we think we’re going to discover something deep and meaningful about why video games have such a hold on our collective imagination?

Well, no. We don’t. But we’re looking forward to the results all the same.

Again, GO VOTE NOW:  The Laser Orgy 500.

 

| More


@LaserOrgy

Follow us on Twitter for updates and links to general coolness

ADVERTISEMENT
 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest Comments
ADVERTISEMENT
Search Blogs
 
Laser Orgy Archives