Best Video Games of All Time


From arcade classics to recent console hits, these are the 50 greatest games ever.

Whether you play video games or not, they’ve become an integral part of our culture. For some, it’s hard to imagine a world without video games—the chup-chup-boop of an arcade legend like Space Invaders or the growling “Finish Him!” in Mortal Kombat can be as evocative as a Michael Jackson or Beatles tune.

Representing multiple generations of gamers, TIME’s tech team put more than 150 nominees through a multistage ranking process to compile a cross-section of gaming’s best ideas across nearly four decades. Here are our picks for the 50 greatest video games of all time.

50. King’s Quest III: To Heir Is Human

In the 1980s, the years that led up to Nintendo’s reign were dominated by PC titles, and of these none were better imagined than Sierra’s. When honoring their adventure line, critics typically laud the original King’s Quest. But it’s the third installment released in 1986 that deserves the most acclaim, because it was also twice as big as the first two installments, and as clever as any in the series. Following the adventures of Daventry’s 17-year-old Prince Alexander, the game hit closer to home with its primary players, who like it or not were pretty much boys. Yet despite the outmoded graphics (or maybe because of them), the keyboard-controlled adventure is still a joy to play (try it yourself). From amassing all the ingredients to make potions, to avoiding the wizard’s evil black cat, to stealing the pirate’s treasure, it’s pure magic.

49. Dota 2

The improbable sequel to a fan mod for a Blizzard game that came out in 2002, Dota 2 stormed the e-sports scene in 2013 with its sophisticated twist on real-time resource management and turf control. Arguably the pinnacle of the multiplayer online battle arena genre (or MOBA, which is just another way of saying “competitive real-time strategy game”), it sees two teams of five jockey for sway over lush, jungled terrain beset by ever-spawning computer armies, locking horns at a river that cuts diagonally across a symmetric map. Difficult to master but thrilling to watch, Dota 2 matches unfold like frenetic attention-deficit sprees, camera views pinballing around battlefields flush with antagonists converging on dozens of flashpoints, as players battle to demolish the other team’s “ancient.”

48. Angry Birds

Rovio’s debut 2009 mobile game, now one of the most recognizable franchises in the world, definitely benefitted from being one of the earliest titles for the iPhone. But the studio’s quirky avian-flinging physics puzzler—players have to slingshot roly-poly birds at likewise rotund, entrenched pigs—also honed in on key elements of smartphone gaming’s then-nascent purview: bite-sized levels for on-the-go play, easy to pickup (if grueling to master) gameplay, and eventually a free-to-play biz model built on micro-transactions. It’s safe to say Angry Birds established the template for all the untold numbers of mobile games vying for our e-wallets since.

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23 best sports video games of all-time

From the gems of the 1980s and ’90s to more contemporary titles, we rank the 23 best sports video games of all time.

We all, at some point in our lives, have dreamed of what it would be like to be a professional athlete. To hit a home run in the World Series, to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, to swish the game-winning shot in the NBA Finals — these are all feats that sports fans have played out in driveways, parks, and fields around the world.

Sadly, we are but mere mortals; these visions, little more than dreams. The best we can do is to live vicariously through our favorite athletes, or even ourselves (bless you, create-a-player mode), in video games.

As technology has grown exponentially over the last 30 years, so too has the gaming world. Virtual reality is the next horizon, which means that before long we’ll be able to experience different sports through the perspective of professional athletes.

But as we continue to move forward, it’s important (and let’s be honest, just plain fun) to look back at the history of sports video games. There have been some absolute gems, many of which made the cut for our list, and there have been some disasters.

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