My Top Ten List of Video Games

commander keen

I am not much of a video game player. In fact, I am not much of a game player at all. The competitive, win-at-all-costs side of me, is not very pretty to see, so I tend to avoid playing games. I can’t just play to be playing. Dammit, I play to win, and whether it is Uno, Monopoly, or checkers, I have every intention of obliterating my opponents. This is why  it is so humbling when Bethany, my daughter with Down Syndrome, who does not understand one bit of UNO strategy, beats her strategizing, card-watching father. She just throws whatever card she wants, and more than a few times she has won the game, much to the dismay of all the adults at the table.

I tend to be the same way with video games. If I am going to play a video game then I want to WIN! Unlike my children, I am not very good at playing video games, so I rarely win. They laugh at my lack of hand-eye coordination, but I remind them that there was a day when I could hit a fastball and sink a 3 point shot with ease. (yes, dear children, I can see you rolling your eyes right now. Unlike God, I am e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.)

So, I have never been a very good video game player. I try, lose, and quit trying until I forget losing and then I try again. It is quite a self-defeating process than I am sure many people my age and older can relate to.

jungle pinball

I have been a computer user since 1992. Over the past 22 years, I have developed a short list of games I love. Here’s my Top Ten List of Video Games:

  1. Jungle Pinball (Starring Timon and Pumbaa)
  2. Cactus Bruce and the Corporate Monkeys
  3. Tetris
  4. Commander Keen (all episodes except Aliens Ate My Babysitter and Keen Dreams)
  5. Duke Nukem  (Not 3D)
  6. Lemmings
  7. Jazz Jackrabbit
  8. Wacky Wheels
  9. Mario Kart (Super Nintendo, played with emulator on PC)
  10. Motocross Madness

Just outside my Top Ten list are The Lost Vikings, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, and NASCAR Racing (first two versions)

As you can see, the games I love tend to be old arcade style games. While I have tried my hand at newer games like Need for Speed, I find them to complicated and frustrating. Give me Tetris any time.

cactus bruce

How about you? Are you a gamer? If you are an oldster like me, do you play video games? Do you wish they would update some of the old video games we used to play?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Comments (15)

  1. Catherine Carter

    I liked the Zork games, but I couldn’t get very far. Same with Duke Nukem. My husband loved Missile Command, Tetris, and Duke Nukem. I’m not very good at video games, but my daughter finds watching me play, even just Wii fitness, hysterical, so I guess there’s entertainment value.

  2. Ben

    I’ve put over 500 hours into Skyrim over the past two and a half years. Does that count?

  3. Troy

    Wow Zork, haven’t heard anyone mention that in a long time. Back in the day my brother managed to get through the first one, I did it a few years ago with a walk through. Pretty amazing how good it was considering it is mere text.
    I’d have to say Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time is probably the best video game ever made, most of the others in the Zelda series usually are very good too. Even an oldster like you Bruce can do it, and the great thing is the various places in the Hyrule world will become places in your mind. (I’m assuming you haven’t played it, if you gave up get a walk through get you started)
    In the arcade coin-op my favorite was always Joust. Riding around on flying ostriches trying to dismount the buzzard riding baddies.
    From your list I like Tetris and Lemmings. Both very innovative. Lemmings had some great puzzles.

    1. Alice

      Zelda OoT is the best video game ever made:)

      I’ve played most of the Zelda games numerous times, they are definitely my favorite.

      I also liked Paper Mario, and Super Mario Sunshine, and pretty much all the other Marios.

      The Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES were very good.

  4. Matt Martin

    I must admit to being fond of Ancient Domains of Mystery. Easily the king of rogue-like RPGs.

    I’ve also always had a thing for id Software’s first person shooters, particularly the Quake series but the Dooms and Wolfenstein3D are good too.

    Oh and Dopewars. Always a good way to waste a couple of hours on an otherwise serviceable Sunday afternoon.

  5. limey

    What a retro list Bruce.

    Keen (including Dreams) occupied a lot of my time. As did Nukem and Lemmings.

    Not long ago Wolfenstein 3D was released on the xbox so I had fun replaying that many years at last completing it.

    These days I really enjoy the GTA games and have fun combating my friends on call of duty or f forza motorsport.

    The other big game in the house is Minecraft, which my daughter is pretty much obsessed with.

  6. Kat

    Hey, Bruce — if you don’t like Competitive You that much, maybe you should try some games that don’t really require you to “win,” though they might have goals to reach. I can recommend The Sims and Minecraft, both of which I love to distraction. They don’t require particularly sharp hand-eye coordination (unless you play Minecraft on one of the higher difficulties, which I never do) and are very open-ended.

    I just turned 50 on Thursday, so I suppose anyone under 40 would consider me an “old-timer,” and I play a LOT of video games. I’m not into platformers (so no Mario, Donkey-Kong, or any of the retro-revival platformers etc.), but I do play a lot of casual and puzzle games, like solitaire, sudoku, and anagram games. In the evenings the hubby and I play RPGs and first-person-shooters, mostly (he drives the game, if it’s single-player, and I help with strategy, directions, and telling him when to take health potions). Here are some of my favourites:

    1. Portal . Unique — in the original, absolute sense of the term — puzzle game. Portal 2 had a 2-player mode that was awesome. Great storylines, great voice-acting, engaging puzzles. And the cake is a lie!
    2. Half-Life 1 & 2. What Would Gordon Freeman Do?
    3. Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion. We’ve put hundreds of hours into these amazing games. We have Skyrim, but haven’t played it yet.
    4. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
    5. Borderlands 1 & 2. Two- to four-person cooperative, so we could play together. Lots of shooting, mayhem, and some really funny dialogue and excellent voice-acting. (I find it ironic and amusing that I, though essentially a pacifist, can get so into FPS games. I’d find myself debating the merits of various types of guns and then stop and just boggle at myself.)
    6. Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. Squirrel on a stick — it’s what’s for dinner!
    7. Assassin’s Creed 1 & 2.
    8. Bioshock 1 & 2. We’re waiting for the Game of the Year edition to buy Infinite.
    9. Deus Ex franchise.

    We’ve also played some games in the adventure and horror genres — a few of the Broken Sword franchise, Beyond Good and Evil, F.E.A.R, Call of Cthulhu, Amnesia — and others I’m not sure how to categorize, such as the Sam and Max franchise (which is effing hilarious). In Ye Olden Dayes, I loved stuff like Bard’s Tale, Might and Magic, Populous, Diabolo, Lemmings (one of the few platformers I’d play), Baldur’s Gate, Dungeon Master, etc., etc., etc.

    Whew! Maybe I should get out more? ;-)

    1. tlethbridge

      SOunds like we have a lot of games in common Kat. Bioshock Infinite is great. If you are waiting on the GotY edition, grab Dishonored now; I think it was even better.

      1. Kat

        We have Dishonored, actually — we just haven’t gotten to it yet. Glad to hear it’s so good! :-)

  7. Paula

    I don’t have a clue what you people are talking about, but I play several versions of solitaire mah-jongg and also scrabble solitaire on the computer when I need some pure diversion and relaxation.

  8. Mike

    I’m a gamer when I have time. I’m psyched that Rambo the video game is coming out next month!

  9. tlethbridge

    Oh yeah, I started on Risk, Axis and Allies, and other popular board games before I graduated to the really complicated Avalon Hill games. The problem was finding people willing to play and a time and place where you could play a game that might take 24 hours to finish. When I got my first real computer, a Tandy 1000 in 1986, my dream was to play those types of games against a computer opponent who was available all the time.

    While the computers of that era were not up to the task, I did enjoy the Infocom games like Zork and Hitchhikers Guide the the Galaxy, along with the original Castle Wolfenstein, MS Flight Simulator, Archon, and Balance of Power.

    By the time WIndows 95 came out my dream was realized. I was hooked on strategy games like Civilization (I have played all of them, I through V), Panzer General, X-Com, and Western Front.

    I also enjoyed first person shooters and played with a competitive clan for several years on games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and Battlefield in all their various incarnations.

    My gaming time is more limited now. When I can carve out a few hours I tend to play story driven FPS’s like Bioshock and Dishonored and strategy games like Civilization and the Total War series. Both my kids are computer gamers and I have helped them build their own gaming rigs. Neither of them are big fans of game consoles, so I must have done something to teach them right :-)

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I have built my own computers since the mid 90-s. I recently built a gaming rig for my youngest son. He is quite the gamer, as is my next to oldest son. They play for hours with people all over the world. Quite intense.

    2. Kat

      PC is the only way to go. ;-)

      Although it means we can’t play the later Halos… :-(

  10. After the Pulpit

    As a kid I remember Saturday morning bus rides downtown to German school at the church I grew up in. I’d always stop at the old Kresge’s Department Store where they had a Donkey Kong arcade game. If you hit the console in a certain secret place, it’d ring up 2 or 3 free credits (sometimes 10!). There were many a day I was late for class as I tried to rescue the damsel in distress held captive in DK’s grip. It was my duty!

    Also, my first computer was a Radio Shack MC-10 and then a TRS-80 (man, I wish I still had those classics!). I spent hours inputting line after line of some very basic space invader type game only to find the program was full of “bugs” after I hit “run.” Ugh! Don’t think I ever got one of these magazine games to run right.

    Then, there was our first Atari 2600, and Intellivision, and…

    Thanks for the memories! :)


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