10 of the Best Video Games of All Time

There have been many entertaining and influential video games throughout the years.  Some of these games are recognizable by nearly everyone.  In some cases video games go on to become a cultural phenomenon with spin-off games, toys and clothing items based on them.  The best games combine entertainment value with cutting edge technologies to keep people coming back for more.

It is hard to narrow down the choices but here are a few of the best video games of all time. Well, at least they’re some of the best games to me. You see, I always hesitate to do these top lists because they’re inherently subjective. These are some of the games that were my firsts, my favorites, or ones that still capture my attention today. Some — like first person shooters — don’t appeal to me, so you won’t find them heavily represented here.

Your list probably won’t match mine. You might love some of these games. You might hate some of these games. And that’s fine. If you disagree with them, what you can do is tell us about your own favorites or your own top ten picks in the comments after the article. Now, to the list — in alphabetical order. (Note: For the purposes of this list I’ve included console, PC, and mobile games.)

video games

1. Angry Birds

Angry Birds is one of the biggest hits created for a touch-screen platform.  It was first released for Apple devices in December 2009.  Other versions were soon created for different devices.  It is a strategy puzzle game that has been downloaded more than 1 billion times.  It was made by the Finnish game developer, Rovio Entertainment, and the continuous expansions have kept up its popularity.

2. Asteroids

Asteroids is a game where the object is to shoot asteroids and space ships without being hit by their shots or crashing into one. It was released by Atari Inc. in 1979 — before I was even born.  The arcade version of the game was released a couple of years before the Atari 2600 version.  Asteroids is Atari’s best-selling game of all time, and it influenced many later games. This is the only one on my top list that wasn’t a personal favorite. I’ve included it more because of the addictive nature it had on family and friends growing up.

3. Civilization IV

Civilization IV is a computer game that was released in 2005.  It is a turn-based strategy game (one of my favorite kinds) where the object is to build an empire starting from a small amount of resources.  It was developed by Firaxis Games and sold over 3 million copies.  One thing that separated it from earlier games in the series was that players were able to make more modifications to the game.  It has been praised by many critics and received high ratings and multiple awards when it was released. While I own both Civ IV and Civ V, IV remains my favorite.

4. Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII was a success immediately after its release, selling many copies and being highly praised by critics.  It was developed by Square and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Sony Playstation in 1997.  It was later released for computers with Microsoft Windows.  Final Fantasy VII is a largely menu-based roleplaying game and is credited with popularizing roleplaying games outside of Japan.  It sold more than 10 million copies. I was never a big fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, but I gave this one a try thanks to my ex’s addiction to it, and it was the only one I personally could get into.

5. Legend of Zelda

arcade game
From arcades to the comfort of our homes to our mobile devices — there’s no denying our longstanding love affair with video games. — Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

The Legend of Zelda is the first game in the Zelda series and was originally released in Japan in 1986.   The game looks down on Link from an overhead view as he travels around trying to find the pieces of the Triforce in order to save the kingdom.  It was the first Nintendo Entertainment System game to sell over 1 million copies and has since been re-released on many platforms. This game is my #1 all-time favorite.

6. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 as a completely redesigned 3D installment in the Zelda franchise.  It was originally released in 1998 followed by versions for Nintendo GameCube, the Wii Virtual Console and an updated version for Nintendo 3DS.  It was twice named the highest-rated game of all time by Guinness World Records.

7. Pac-Man

I almost feel silly including this in my list, but Pac-Man is one of the most widely known games of all time.  It became not only a game but a pop-culture icon.  Pac-Man was first developed by Namco and released in Japan in 1980, then in the United States later that same year.  It was published by Midway in the U.S.  It has appeared on a variety of platforms over the years, with numerous spin-offs.

8. Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers is the original Mario game released by Nintendo in 1985.  It was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System as a sequel to the 1983 arcade game.  The player controls Mario as he travels through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool.  A second player can join in and play as Luigi.  The game has of course been very influential, as seen by the numerous later versions and the many games that were designed with the same style.  There was also a television series and movie based on Super Mario Brothers. This was the first game I ever played from start to finish. And I still remember the first time I beat it, when my little brother (probably no more than six or seven years old at the time) kissed the picture of the princess on the screen after she was rescued.

9. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is a later game in the Mario series that was one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64.  It was released in 1996 and was one of the earliest video games where the player could move in all directions.  Like previous Mario games the object is to rescue the Princess from Bowser.  In Super Mario 64 Mario wanders around Princess Peach’s castle and jumps through paintings to enter worlds where there are multiple challenges to earn stars.  The year it came out it received awards as the best game of the year.

10. Tetris

Tetris is an extremely popular game that has been released on many platforms since the original came out.  I suppose it appeals to my love of puzzles and good old mindless entertainment. I could play for hours without realizing the time was passing by. It was designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov and released in the Soviet Union in 1984.  The object is to fit different shaped pieces together to form solid rows.  It is available on nearly every platform that can play video games.  The Game Boy version that was released in 1989 made it one of the most popular games of all time.  More than 100 million copies were sold on cell phones alone.

This is, of course, only a small sample of the many great video games that have been released. Some of my own favorites didn’t even make the cut. How about yours?  What are your top games of all time?  Tell us in the comments.

Written by
Jennifer Mattern
Join the discussion

  • The “of all time” phrase is so tiresome. Especially since this list starts with some upstart that is so new that its current popularity is overshading any merit it may have as a “classic”. So, fail.

    • Sorry you weren’t a fan of the post “Name.” “Of all time” includes all times, including the present. Nowhere did I say that these games had to be “classics.” The list is alphabetical, hence Angry Birds’ presence in the first spot. And the games were chosen based on the personal preferences of one person, and based on the impact some games have had. That includes mass popularity that comes with new technology. I encourage you to share your own list rather than just criticizing others. I’m sure other readers would appreciate hearing which games you recommend as alternatives.

  • Angry Birds…….. You put Angry Birds as the number 1 video game of all time? Sorry I didn’t read the rest, I couldn’t take it seriously.

    • Apparently you didn’t read anything else either. The article title doesn’t state they are “the” absolute best games of all time. They’re examples of some of them, hence the “of the” potion of the title. It also explains that the games aren’t ranked with #1 as the best, etc. They’re alphabetical.

  • This was clearly written by a female “non-gamer”. These games blow big time. You can’t make a “top-10” list of video games and not include at least 1 of the following: Street Fighter, Mass Effect, COD, Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Halo, and my personal favorite Goldeneye.

    • I’m not sure why people have such a hard time with reading comprehension. Seriously. I’m an active gamer, thanks. And I make it clear in the article that I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, that these aren’t “the best” games in the world — they’re a subjective list based on personal experiences and standards, and that I encourage you leave your own lists.

      At least you did that much, and for that I thank you.

  • WORST LIST Ever! I am putting you on my “worst list of things I have read of all time” blog.

    Angry Birds? Wha?

    I am speechless.

    • Rather than complaining about a choice, I suggest you list some of your own favorites or other games that have mass appeal for one reason or another. We’re always happy to hear what else you’re playing and why you love it.

    • Rather than trolling with generic criticism, why not add something constructive — like some of your own top picks and why they make your list? We’d love to hear some of your favorites.

    • That’s one of my husband’s favorites too Chip. Unfortunately it’s not one I’ve spent much time with yet. Sitting on the shelf waiting for a free weekend. 🙂

    • Thanks for your suggestion. The only reason that wouldn’t work is that I chose to list them alphabetically rather than in ranking form.

  • Look let me give you a leg up, first of all the arguments you are using to defend your title is purely semantics, and your logic is faulty how are we the ones with a learning disability, or reading comprehension issues when you are the one trying to justify what is plain and simple a click grabbing title.

    Secondly the issue with your list is not that it’s different but it shows a amazing lack of investigation and knowledge of the games themselves, i can bet you anything you want that if we were to incur in a FF VII conversation you would have no idea, it’s clear you mention this games because somehow you stumbled upon them

    This list should have a much more comprehensible title like “Top 10 games i known since i decided to cash in on the popularity” the issue everyone has with your list has nothing to do with the fact the games suck in fact some of them are wonderful games, but it’s celar you have no idea how to describe them or really know anything about them from the very basic, which let’s be honest isn’t very hard to google away.

    ” It was twice named the highest-rated game of all time by Guinness World Records.” if this is the best you can say fo ocarina of time regardless of how it transformed the adventure genre forever, how its mechanics of the game are still used in modern games and it’s become a staple of pop culture then it’s fairly obvious you are someone who doesn’t particularly care about videogames and have nothing to do making a list on the best games, let alone calling it top 10 games of all time.

    A little modesty from yourself would go a mile. instead of pretending you know what you are talking about and turning down any other opinion on how shittty your list is, i would suggest to bow out gracefully and admit, you have no bussines writing about video games when it’s clear you haven’t got the slightest knowledge to be making a list.

    As i mentioned if this was a honest list maybe you could admit to not being a gamer or know particularly much about videogames bu hey here’s the list of the games i know and love. The reaction in the comments would be one completely different altogether an you would have people pitching in sharing and recomedning gaming experiences worthwhile your time.

    Give yourself a leg up, and admit you have no idea what you were typing this list in the first tiem, we get VG’s are popular but if you are planning to cash in on the popularity for a couple of web hits, at least make it a honest read, gamers can spot a Bullshiter a mile away, and that’s the reason everyone is putting down your horrible and boring list.

    Not because the games are inherently bad i like all of them to one degree or the other, but our descriptions read more like the first paragraph from a wiki article, not from a person who truly knows let alone enjoyed this games.

    here’s a little show of a list i made up from the top of my head from games i love you’ll see it’s a much more comprehensible list. and i’d be glad to recommend this games to you perhaps you’ll understand why anyone who has played videogames for more than 10 years will disagree strongly with your iist.


    • I just want to make sure I’m clear on this point — I do not in any way directly profit based on how much traffic each individual article gets. I was assigned the topic with a basic title. I tweaked it just enough that I would not be claiming these were the best games of all time. And I do feel semantics matter, which is why I made that very deliberate change (and I’m sorry if you disagree). I made it as clear as I could in the post that this was one person’s opinion, and that I didn’t expect readers to necessarily agree (and invited them to share some of their own favorites rather than simply disagree with my own choices here). I’m sorry that we have different experiences and preferences with games. I’m sorry that you didn’t agree with the list or how it was written. And I sincerely thank you for sharing some of your own favorites in the link you included. I hope other readers check it out and add some of their own favorites for others to consider.