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November 26, 2021

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We discuss the top five games from each decade, the most important, genre defining or iconic titles that changed the face of gaming through history. In 'Part 5' we look at our last decade.

Time to read article

10 mins

THE 2010's

So, how will we remember the last decade? Because of Instagram, was it that ‘selfies’ killed more people than sharks, or we took more pictures of our food than of our friends? We were given the iPad and Youtube where 2,147,483,647 of us broke the play counter from watching ‘Gangnam Style’. Or maybe we don’t want to remember that we ‘planked’ or tipped buckets of iced water over our heads, or that we said finally goodbye to that little wizard boy. The world didn’t end in 2012 as predicted, but the burning question of the last decade was probably…was that dress really blue and black?

The 2010’s were an important decade for the gaming industry which entered its fifth decade. Gaming became more accessible; portability brought to us consoles like Nintendo’s Switch and with the increased popularity of mobile gaming, the ability to never be without a gaming device. Twitch and live streaming globalised esports and with game subscription services, we didn’t need to leave our homes to make our purchases. Indie games exploded, remakes and reboots breathed life into classic franchises. Finally, the technological growth was the fastest of any previous decade, the introduction of VR bought the future to the present and consoles, desktops, resolutions and frame rates were now at aspeed that 80’s gamers would never have believed.

But what were the five most genre defining and influential games of this period…read on.

1. MINECRAFT (2011) Mojang Studios

For a game that looks like it is from the 80’s, this ‘survive and build’ indie game is considered to be one of the most important games of the last two decades and we agree. Its visual simplicity hides a beautifully constructed game that you can play in ‘survival’ mode, or where it really comes into its own, the freeform sandbox mode where you can create cities, seven kingdoms or Death Stars to name but a few.

Now taken over by Microsoft, who have kept the development process going by adding tons of new content, it has become best selling game of all time. With 200 million copies sold and 126 million active users makes Minecraft, not only a commercial titan, but a creative and inspirational one as well.

2. RED DEAD REDEMPTION (2010) Rockstar

OK, admittedly RDR2 is the better game, but this was the first. Redefining what an ‘openworld’ game was with its epic scale and cinematic approach, Rockstar made it’s Wild West adventure a worthy addition to it’s stable (pun intended).

It may be ‘GTA on horseback’ but with engrossing characters, main and side missions that are well crafted with distractions along the way, plus a multiplayer option, the scope of the game is as wide as it’s vistas. RDR became the benchmark for cinematic game-play and rightly so.

3. THE LAST OF US (2013) Naughty Dog

So, two games in our list that raised the bar for cinematic storytelling, RDR for the world it created but The Last of Us for the empathetic connection it makes between its characters and its players. Released at a time when people were hungry for zombie related television, movies and games, which undoubtedly aided its success, The Last of Us was met with universal acclaim.

You can review the game as you would a film, the character development and pace of their relationships to each other and you the player is beautifully worked, the combat styles are varied and resourceful and you are constantly aware of your vulnerability. It is also worth mentioning that it’s lack of sexualised female characters, a traditional fault of many blockbuster games, was extremely refreshing and ground-breaking.

4. POKÉMON GO (2016) Niantic

Let’s not forget our criteria…’Genre Defining’, this decade was as important for its games as its technology and no game illustrates this more than Pokémon Go. Embracing mobile technology and augmented reality, while encouraging people to get out and about, it was an instant success. Admittedly it was buggy, hit by technical problems (server outages due to demand) on release many people saw it as a summer fad… but it’s still here and going strong.

Bringing a unique social aspect to gaming was revolutionary and over a billion people can’t be wrong.

5. THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM (2011) Bethesda

RPG was seen as a niche genre in gaming until Skyrim came on to the scene and created the benchmark on which future RPGs would be measured against. An open-world, with character creation, the ability to craft your own story with dialogue choices that truly affected gameplay, these were the elements that put this game on our list.

The incredible work that went in to creating such a detailed and large environment that also incorporated spontaneous Bandit and Mudcrab attacks, provided countless hours of exploration. The deep game history and lore also allowed players to delve into Elven politics and uncover hidden mysteries, should they choose to.

What makes Skyrim a valuable contribution to the list is its overall richness and with its dedicated modding community, those glitches with the horses can be smoothed right out (almost).

As always there were others that some may argue should have been on this list but we didn't do a 'Top 10'. Most notably Portal 2, Fortnite, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, GTA V, Disco Elysium, Super Meat Boy, Death Stranding... the list could go on.

So that concludes our trip through video game history, we certainly found it fun compiling these lists and we hope you enjoyed reading them.