When making a best-of list, it's tempting to swap out "best" for another superlative: "most important." That's especially true for the best-of-the-decade lists being published as the 2010s wind down.
Decades are the longest whole units of history most of us will live to experience in their entirety. So their passing, it seems, invites us to play historian. We look back on them not just as people who lived them, but the first judges of their contribution to the cultural record.
Still, "most important" and "best" are not the same thing. Sometimes not even remotely.
All of this is to say: You will not see "Pokemon Go" on my list of the best video games of the 2010s. Or "Fortnite." Or even "Minecraft."
Those games were important to the decade, sure, perhaps more than any other. They were certainly played by wider audiences than any other, whole new audiences that had never touched a controller before. And as we pass into 2020, we continue to see the economic impact they've had on the games industry, for better and for worse.
But no, they were not among the best games of the decade. "Minecraft" is less game than software, to say nothing of its trash bag creator. "Fortnite" is five seconds of fun for every 10 minutes of waiting. And "Pokemon Go" died the second Hillary Clinton turned it into the worst campaign slogan of not just the decade, but all of recorded human history.
That said, below are the 50 games I thought were the best of the decade.
First, a few notes:
• No, I didn't play every game released in the 2010s. If there's a game you think should be on my list, maybe I didn't play it. If there's a system you suspect I don't own, maybe I don't. Or maybe not? It's my list, and I'd like it to have a little mystery. Also, it's my list. Who cares?
• Yes, I really did wimp out of ranking and blurbing Nos. 11 through 50. My actual job is features editor of a local daily newspaper, so I don't have the kind of time to write 100 words each about 40 video games. And besides, past No. 10, the rankings are kind of a wash.
• If for some unfathomable reason you'd like my extended thoughts on the majority of these games, I've linked my reviews of them. A word of warning, though: The older the review, the less trustworthy my thoughts are today. Let's face it: We were all very different people back in jolly old 2010.
Now then, on with the list: