Recently, Professor Henry Lowood of Stanford University suggested developing a videogame canon. Such a construct is analogous to the concept of the academic Western canon, which specifies a list of literature, and potentially art and so forth, that are considered significantly influential in Western culture.
I would like to do something similar with videogames. I deride the specifics of Professor Lowood's canon, primarily because of the specifics of game inclusion. From an academic standpoint, "Space War!" gives a player little real information about game design. Academically, Space War! is just not a useful teaching aid. That is not to say that it is a terrible game. But it doesn't show clearly and distinctly a specific tool in a game designers arsenal.
And to me, that is what a canon should do. It should list games that are useful as teaching tools. It should list games that have a clear and convincing object lesson associated with it that shows how a game designer can solve certain problems. And it should be the best example of that solution, not merely the first, which most of those games were.
So, what would I include? You'll find out in this new, ongoing series of articles. Each choice will be explained in detail, covering what needs to be taught in an academic setting (since that's the purpose of the list).