Friday, September 3, 2010

RPGFan Feature - The Top 20 RPGs of the Last Decade

So, I recently participated in RPGFan's Top 20 of the Last Decade feature - check it out: here. It was one of the most interesting and debatable features we've done, in my opinion. We all submitted a Top 10 list and from there our top 20 was constructed. The results? Took everyone a bit by surprise. The JRPG and SMT dominated. At first there was discussion to alter the list - make it more balanced. To be honest, I thought about it, but just couldn't see why we'd change the results. No list will ever be 100% perfect and everything is debatable, what it all comes down to is opinion. People tend to proclaim that journalists should try to be as objective as possible, but I think when you're mapping out some of your favorite and best games that's entirely impossible to do. And it'd be a disservice to yourself to simply put a game on there because everybody else thought it was great, but it wasn't your cup of tea or there were other games you played that you felt did more.

This is where I love RPGFan. When we all did our top 10 lists, I don't think anybody put a game on there just because they thought others would look at their lists and comment why wasn't ____ game on there. For instance, Dragon Age is very a well liked game by many, but I've tried to play that game time and time again, and while I see its strong points (dialogue and options galore!) - I can't sit here and say it should be on my list because it didn't grab me or draw me in. Does that mean it's not a great game? No. It just means it would never make my list. And believe me, I've tried the game time and time again because I want to like the game. Honestly, I feel like I should. <--- and that right there is what is wrong. So many times we go along with the masses and are afraid to go against the grain and do something out of the ordinary. Well, with our feature - we didn't do what was typical. We decided not to alter the list the present it as it was. If we put every game that was expected to be on there on it, well what fun would that be? There were curve balls. Hell, there are games on there, that I don't like, but in the end, we have something different.

I guess, what I like most about the list and it didn't really dawn on me until the results were shown was how SMT dominated the last decade. All their games are held in such high regard. Look at the individual staffers, you can't escape that at least one SMT game made each of their lists. And some even had SMT games on there that didn't make the site top 20 list. SMT was the package, the quality RPG experience of the last decade. Will it continue to dominate? Who knows. I sure hope so, as the SMT games are some of the most fun I've had with games, but the future is never predictable. SMT always went against the grain, always changed things up, tried something unique - I'd like to say our list takes a cue from SMT by trying something unique and giving SMT games the props they deserve. People can argue the list is slanted and unbalanced. I'm sorry, would you prefer us to water it down and try to detract from SMT's influence over the last decade? We're not here to please everybody. This is how the cards fell and I absolutely love it.

Another note that can be made is the lack of WRPGs. However, if you go past the top ten, you do find plenty of WRPGs. People have to remember we are taking an entire decade here. And let's face it, the WRPG didn't start its domination until later in the decade. Sure, there were some stand out games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, but when you think of the last decade - what crosses your mind? The dominance of the JRPG.

The PS2 was a JRPG machine. I don't think we'll ever see a console so dominant again nor do I think the JRPG will ever be a clear winner in the JRPG vs WRPG match. I think now it is becoming more about the WRPG and less about the JRPG. WRPGs are dominating the consoles more, where the JRPG has really found its home on handhelds. So, while the JRPG isn't dead, we aren't seeing them control the massive console games. I think our list represents well that the last decade had a JRPG dominance that can't be denied and that as the decade went on the WRPG started giving it a run for the money.

So, in the end, no body will agree with any list. I'm happy that we tried something different. We presented to you how the cards fell without compromising anything. The trends in the list are actually quite interesting and maybe if we got you talking then that's all we can ask. As a journalist, I'd rather have you debating my opinion than simply having something boring that is predictable and doesn't spark you at all. We've definitely ignited a spark - let the fire spread!

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