Anyway … Here we go.
Game Literacy, outside of subjective critique, as I see it, can be broken into at least 3 sub-categories.
The cultural influence of a game. The hidden element of knowledge that gamers share, and understand.
(See any Scott Pilgrim reference)
The technical knowledge a game bestows. (Game’s follow a basic design pattern depending on the genre, If you aquire knowledge from one key early games in the genre, you are most likely able to transfer the knowledge to other more modernized examples of the genre.)
Aswell as creative influence, on gamers and on future games.
Most “relevant” games tend to hit these marks.
Super Mario (The king of gameland), being more recognizable by todays youth than Mickey Mouse,
has an iconic standing. As you are no doubt aware. With him, 8-bit culture is immortalized and has become an integral part of ‘gamer cred’. Not to mention that his games have reinvented the platform genre twice,
and introduced a system of movement, jumping, and points collection that have been mimicked in countless
games since. If someone was serious about understanding games, where else to turn?
The concept of game literacy, does come with a large dose of personal preference.
I could tell you that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is irrelevent for you because you have never heard of Doom, but that is just simply not the case. Call of Duty may owe a large part of its scenario design to Medal of Honor, but to play Medal of Honor beforehand wouldn’t really give you anything tangible. It is actually less intuitive, less refined, and less interesting. Some games are just islands to be appreciated individually.
Moreover, the creative influence of most games are ripped from film. So it is hard to establish a solid line to and from a game. Even when you try to pin down a single influence over modern control schemes, there was a leap to 3D camera control that we all had to learn painstakingly. This has become a price to entry, and no one game can just hand you that skill. It was earned for all of us.
The ‘Gamer Cred’ I talked about earlier, is probably the only established hierarchy of games. Its also a social phenomenon. The purist mentality states that ‘you don’t know shit if you have not played X Y Z’.
Taking things at face value just doesn’t cut it. I would state that modern fans of Bioware RPG’s, that have not played the previous Infinity Engine games, are missing out. I feel that the previous games satisfied me more fully. I haven’t been able to convince anyone though. People aren’t as patient as they once were, and gaming tastes are different now. Perhaps modern Bioware RPG’s are the best for modern gamers.
You see the philosophy popping up here.
Before I draw this out into a 15 page essay, I better just throw down a list of relevant games.
Diablo, for reviving the RPG genre. Then making us all into loot whores.
Half -Life, as both a innovator in the FPS genre, and a platform for modding communities
<3<3Warren Spector <3<3 not a game, but I would plow him.