Tell Us Dammit: Best Decade For Gaming

I was asked the other day about video game decades: which one was the most important to me personally, which did I think was the best in general. Such a difficult question. Difficult to even begin thinking about.

I was tempted to say the 90s. Just to avoid actually thinking about it properly — mainly because that's when I think I enjoyed gaming the most, personally. Most of my all-time favourite games come from that era — the SNES, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 era. But the 80s! That was a time where gaming just felt like a completely different space. I played for different reasons, my memories feel different, more scattered, but more important. Bizarre.

And the 2000s. Jesus. Where do you even begin there? The PlayStation 2 had, arguably, the best library of games ever.

Man, I don't know. I can't call it. What do you guys and girls think?


    The most recent decade will always be the best decade as long as we have access to the games released in the past.

    Even if some people don't like the direction that some genres or series have headed in recently, they've still had access to more games on better hardware without restricting their ability to play the older games that they loved.

    Viva la emulacion!

      Having access to the older games is great, but it's not the same.

      Even though arcades still exist, they just don't have the same atmosphere as they did back in the 80's

        The atomsphere was awesome, wasn't it? But I have to say that I had the most fun gaming on the SNES in the 90's, soo many great RPG's

    Right now. The overwhelming choice of AAA titles, MMOs, smaller PSN/XBLA titles, indie games, mobile games is just incredible. In no other decade have we had so much variety. Whatever your candy of choice, there's something for you.

      I would say the 80s had a greater variety of choice. More systems. More developers from indie to AAA .More experimental. It wasn't cookie cutter ports between two (arguably three) consoles. No PC dominance. The 80s had far more choices. Spectrum, Amstrad, c64, Atari, nintendo, sega , arcades., bbc, aquarius, colecovision, radio shack etc

        True there weren't many ports but there sure was a lot of clones (similar to today's mobile market). Another thing that we forget is that if we are comparing decades, we necessarily have to look at graphics. Is it unfair to compare graphics from the 80s and today? Maybe. But I can tell you that if you'd offered me today's graphics in the 80s then I would have frothed at the mouth with lust and immediately forgotten my friend's Amiga 500 and all its (admittedly awesome) games.

        I agree that the 80s were experimental, but in a way that was necessarily limited by hardware capability. Today we have games that take advantage of multiplayer via internet, social features, touch control, motion control, remote play, dual screens, voice control etc. The indie devs out there today have so much possibility at their fingertips, the games are only limited by imagination. I'd pit games such as Angry Birds, Journey, Demon's Souls, Unfinished Swan, Flower, and others, against the most innovative the 80s had to offer.

        If we are talking objectively, we have to remove the nostalgia factor. Somewhat difficult to do in practice, and after all, we are talking about a subjective opinion on which decade is better. Subjectively, I love the 80s. I played the Last Ninja games until my C64 melted from the inside, but I have to confess that I am having just as much fun today and the games are more enjoyable for the shear breadth and depth of the experience. In the 80s the games tended to be much more 'what you see is what you get'.

          I disagree. The question is best decade for gaming? So taking off the rose coloured glasses and the 1080p goggles we need to look at which decade was best for games and gamers AT THE TIME. As you say we need to be objective. Im talking choice. There was more choice in systems in the 80s. More choice in distribution. More choice in games. Yes innovation came through necessity but that doesn't detract from the achievements such necessity created. Indie developers (as you say) are these days only limited by their imagination so why do the churn out games that look like they were made in the 80s????? Because PLAYERS not developers were only limited by their imagination in the 80s!

    Late 90's to late 2000's for me. This is probably becuase during this time I had the more spare time that I could dedicate to gaming.

    Now being married and just having my first child, I don't have hardly as much time anymore. At least I get an evening every now and then.

      im thinking anything pre 2005, from 80s clean through to 2005.
      these days i only seem to get excited by games that are reboots of classic or HD remakes, but then i usually end up disappointed because they are utter rubbish, bad ports, contain DLC or DRM out the whazoo.

      I'll admit there is always exceptions to the rules, the new tomb raider is pretty good, and i loved Dishonoured and DE:HR.

      i do however spend more time on classic games than newer ones by far, SNES emulator on my Tablet, Nes games on my DS, and even still play W3 and HL1 Mods.

    Easy - 1996 to 2005

      Agreed completely, contains both of my favourite years: 1998 and 2004.

      I agree. I think that when DLC replaced expansions, we were lost.

      Going with this too, maybe a couple of years either way, if i looked into it. DKC1 was out '94 I believe.

        Oh sheet, When was DKC2? (that could change things up a bit!

      +1 although i've got to sneak it back a year because Command & Conquer was released in 1995 - and that was one of my favorite games of all time.
      1995+ Games really took off, technology moved fast - all in a sudden if you wanted to be in the game you needed a dedicated graphics card.
      we had quake (along with a plethora of mods, CTF, Future vs fantasy, etc etc), Warcraft, Starcraft, Duke3d, Need for speed 3, Total Annihilation, Unreal
      The lucasarts point and click golden years
      The list goes on

    88 - 98 for sure. The games and advances in tech during that period was just great!

    90s. The 16bit era was epic. Quality games, and lots of them.

    2000's. 90's had a lot of classics, as did the 80's, but it was the 2000's when video games really started to come into their own. Games started becoming a proper story telling medium, with the narrative being just important as the gameplay. As a form of entertainment, they expanded beyond the realm of children and fratboys and into something everyone could enjoy. Not to mention all the technological advancements that have been made, and I'm not just talking about graphics. Being able to play games online with your friends from anywhere in the country, or world if you don't mind some lag, is pretty amazing, as is the ability to download and play a game with ease without having to go to the store to buy a physical copy.

    1997 - 2007.

    Back in the days when Doom 3 and Half Life 2 were shown at the same E3.

    1991 -2000

    Hard to choose between the 90s and early naughties. 1991-2005 was a great period!

    definitely late 90's - late 2000's.... but if picking vs 90's vs 00's.... i'd say 00's! 90's paved way for the 00's... long live gaming!

    With rose tinted goggles on? The Super Nintendo is my sentimental favorite console.
    Take the goggles off? Now is the best time. Because i get to play 20 more years worth of games.

    I'm 32, and blessed with the ability to remove my nostalgia goggles.

    2000-2009 is currently number 1, with the current decade 2010-2013 thus far looking like it's easily going to surpass it.

      Nailed it.

      You can be as sentimental as you want but very few games from 1990-2005 hold up as what would be considered genuinly good by today's standard.

      That said, i think a good indication would be Zelda: OOT on the 3DS. I honestly think if that game had never been released on the N64 that it would have blown people away when it was released on the 3DS with it's touched up graphics. The gameplay, sound, story and setting of that game is still amazing and i think even without the nostalgia that game holds up as a brilliant stand-alone package by 2012 standards.

      Hard for me to say though because while you can try to be objective these things, the rose-coloured glassed never come right off!

        Dont' get me wrong, true classics will hold up forever.

        But I have kept all my old consoles, and have a few set up, and to be honest, I go back and play many of them, and get bored after a few minutes. They just don't hold up.

        Ultimately, most of us were kids in the 80s and 90s and kids are dumb. Things that amazed and wowed us as kids, naturally most likely won't as adults. Also, we didn't know any better.

        Never, EVER has there been more quality games flooding us than now. I mean, if we're BRUTALLY honest? Most of today's 'mediocre' games, would have been hailed as all time greats had they released 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

          It's easy to dismiss anyone who disagrees with you as wearing nostalgia glasses, but it's not entirely fair either. Personally my friends and I play a lot of SNES - GCN era games to this day and find them to be superior to a vast majority of today's games. Perhaps people just look for different things in games ;) For instance, I'm much more interested in great level design, thoughtful mechanics, small touches that reward exploration than I am finding something to 'amaze and wow me.' Irnoically, and contrary to your 'mediocre' claim, for me there's very few even top tier games of this era that I'd consider all time greats, while I greatly enjoy a larger number of games today and would agree there's a flood of really good games moreso than before, I simply don't think there's many that reach the hallmark of design excellence something like Mega Man X does. Dark Souls is probably up there, and otherwise.. mostly indie games honestly.
          That you get bored with them doesn't make them bad or necessarily mean they don't hold up, and my enjoyment of them doesn't mean they are amazing and better than current gen, but at the same time, there is such thing as objectively good and bad video game design.

            So retro games are the only games that contain “the hallmark of design excellence”?
            The only new games that match up are “indie” games?
            And the most prohibitively difficult game of this generation is the only one you consider to have advance mechanics?

            I was half expecting you to finish saying that you’re “much more interested in great level design, thoughtful mechanics, small touches that reward exploration” with “….but you guys wouldn’t understand”.

            Ever consider that you might be a hipster?

            I did say that obviously there are older games that hold up.

            I still play Donkey Kong Country, Super Punch Out, Daytona USA, Street Fighter 2, Street of Rage 2 etc etc. Don't misunderstand. I'm not trying to say "Old games suck".

            But I refuse to be 'that guy', that as I get older I trash everything new and automatically write off anything new as inferior to everything old.

            Sonic the Hedgehog is the one game that I feel really REALLY kicked me into overdirve in my obsession with gaming. But seriously, no save states? Which goes for a LOT of old games for that matter.

            I just think, that there is a much much larger number of great games today than there has ever been in the history of the industry, and I think we are spoilt to the point where we don't appreciate how good we have it. We choose to focus on "negatives" like DLC (which I actually love), DRM and all the other practices that have entered this gen.

            I mean, between my Wii/U, PS3 and 360 I own well over 200 games, and am yet to play:

            - Mass Effect 2 and 3
            - Red Dead Redemption
            - Left 4 Dead 1 or 2
            - Assassin's Creed 3
            - Bioshock 2
            - Far Cry 3
            - Crysis 3

            Plus a whole host of others. I'm not sure how anyone can argue with a striaght face that this generation (PS360Wii) hasn't been the best one thus far by a country mile.

            Last edited 08/03/13 9:34 am

      I'm 29 and endorse this message. The last few years of the 90s were pretty good as well, but the decade as a whole kind of averages the latter part of it out.

    90's. All the ps1 games, wake, Doom, Whiplash on the PC.
    Good times, man. Good times.

    If you’re being objective is the most recent decade is definitely the best.

    Most people will get sentimental about however old they were between the ages of 13-23 or there abouts (that was my favourite period) but games these days are way better than they used to be.

    I can say I’ve never had more fun than playing Goldeneye, Quake, OOT ect back in my high-school days, but I can’t argue that they are better games than those which have come out in the past 10 years.

      Another way of looking at it is that we are so depended on graphics, V/O and Multiplayer that we are biased against older games expecting to much from them. The 90's are so well remembered because the the games were awesome and if the games of today (mostly) were of the same graphics et cerea of that era they wouldn't hold up.

    2000s, easy. You start out with the very end (and best!) of the N64. You get all the glory of the GameCube. Then you close off with the Wii's prime period (has much of interest even happened on that since 2010? Seriously, the best games I keep thinking of are Overkill, Little King's Story and de Blob which are all super old now).

    Not to mention that covers most of the expanse of the DS as well. Incredible decade.

    90’s was the peak of cartage gaming, the wide selection of top PC games and the birth of competitive gaming CS and AoE.

    Last edited 07/03/13 12:05 pm

      Counter-Strike (as a mod) came out in the last half of 1999 and wasn’t officially released until the 2000’s.
      Organised “competitive gaming” (I assume you mean online) really took off during the Quake era from 1996 onwards.

      It’s not a huge deal, but the way I see it Counter-Strike ran parallel to high-paced “Quake-style” shooters that were played 1 on 1 or as team DM (Quakes 1-3, the Unreal Tournament series) for a few years before largely killing the genre off in place of the CoD shooters we see dominating the multiplayer scene today.

      Call me bitter (I am) but I get really shitty when I hear people refer to CS as the first of anything. As much as I was fond of the Action Quake series which inspired it, I do miss the days of flick shots, strafe-jumping, multiple weapons, power-ups, more dynamic maps (vertical movement!), 1 on 1 tactical battles ect.

      It’s so much better than choose your weapon, plod forward, crouch, auto-sight, shoot.… plod forward……

        Yes online, i do recognise Quake (loved online with game... ROCKET JUMP 4 LIFE ha ha) and Half-Life as the fathers of online competitive gaming but for me Quake 3 (1999) and very much Counter Strike (1999) put online competitive gaming to the people and i would go as far to day, went to give birth the idea of online play models that game like CoD use today... but all this is just my feelings on the matter.

    The noughties.

    I had the delicate balance of having enough money to buy games reasonably often, and the work/study flexibility to put in long gaming sessions.

    80's and 90's me had the time but no money.
    10's me has the money but no time.

    90's. There were less games but I had more fun with most of them than I have with games in the last 8-9 years

    I'm definitely a child of the 80's, and my love for the old consoles is still strong, but to be totally honest I'd have to say that this decade has been the best for gaming. Just consider the huge steps gaming as a whole has taken over the past 10 years, becoming the largest force in the entertainment industry, becoming better understood, appreciated and studied than ever before.

    There are now university courses for people to study gaming, not just programming, art or design, but for writing and theory. There are countless books written about gaming as a serious adult topic to discuss and consider. Big name AAA games are out-grossing the biggest films, while there are artistic indie games made by small teams which are gaining as much cred as the big name titles. There are global networks set up so that we can quickly and cheaply buy game without even having to go to a store or wait for delivery, and we can share our experiences with other people without having to know what server they are on or what their IP address is. We all carry mobile devices which can play games with all the functionality and better graphics than the previous generation of consoles. Plus, more money, planning and effort is going into advancing gaming then there has ever been in history, and it's all happening right now.

    It's easy to lose focus when we are so fond of our memories, but when you look at it objectively, you can't argue that there is some amazing shit happening in gaming right now, and the only thing that will be better than the current decade of gaming will be the next one.

    @ash 90's for sure man

    I remember Doom 1, Fallout 1 and 2

    And Halloween Harry, Whacky Wheels, Rise of the Triad

    Good times

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