Future Tense

The Worst Omission From Time’s Insulting “100 Most Influential Video Games” List

Still from Minecraft: Xbox360 Edition.

© Microsoft Studios/4J Studios/Mojang. All rights reserved.

Time is out with a new list. No, not its annual “100 most influential people” list—this one is way more controversial: the 100 most important video games of all time. The list—which calls out obvious game-changers like The Oregon Trail  and The Legend of Zelda, as well as smaller titles like Braid—seems innocuous enough at first.

But there is one glaring omission: Minecraft, the ground-breaking game in which you literally “mine” and then “craft” your environment, building almost anything you can imagine. In 2011, Time quite properly named Minecraft the video game of the year. But apparently that doesn’t mean Minecraft is influential or important enough to crack the top 100.


Minecraft, which revolutionized the industry by proving an independent studio could create a multimillion-dollar-grossing game (and inspiring indie video game developers the world over).


Minecraft, which Ian Livingstone, the founder of Games Workshop and an adviser to the U.K. government on video games, once told Wired, “singlehandedly changed the world of videogames.”

Minecraft, which disrupted the video-game studio arms race for “bigger and better” pictures, sounds, and adventures, and instead promoted a minimalist, sandbox approach to video games.

Minecraft, which made pixel art cool again.

Minecraft, which teachers love for its ability to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills in kids.

Minecraft, whose engine is now being used by United Nations Habitat and local youth in 300 urban-planning projects in places like Nairobi, Kenya.


Seriously? What constitutes as an important, influential game if it is not Minecraft

I can forgive the general-interest Time for mentioning only one racing game* and for inadequately representing the fighting game genre by no mention of 3D games (like Soulcalibur or Tekken).

I can forgive the magazine its failure to include the role-playing game Fallout 3, which I view as the best video game of all time; and I can forgive Time for not including City of Heroes, which boasts award-winning character customization; or Team Fortress 2, with its brilliant Norman Rockwell-inspired art direction. I can ignore Time’s ignorance of video game culture, as demonstrated by its overlooking Command and Conquer, Age of Empires: The Age of Kings, any of the Heroes of Might & Magic games, or the real-time tactical Total War series (of which my favorite is still Rome Total Warbecause I like trebuchets, OK?).

But given its impact on the video game industry, education, and urban planning, Minecraft’s omission means I can’t in good conscience take the list seriously now. Perhaps Time should stick to stuff it does best, covering pop politics and asking whether women are “mom enough,” and leave coverage of video games to people who actually pay attention to the industry.

Correction, Nov. 21, 2012: This post originally stated that the Time list did not include any racing games. It included OutRun, a racing game that was first released in 1986.