A little over a year ago the NY Times and various other media outlets and blogs reported on Henry Lowood, Warren Spector, Steve Meretzky, Mario Bittanti, and Christopher Grant's list of the ten most important games of all time.
Many referred to it as the creation of the first video game canon.
Certainly we are all aware of the problems of creating any kind of canon yet I think we all recognize their usefulness as well---if only as the subject of critique.
I am faced with this same dilemma now that I am creating exam reading lists for my Ph.D. exams. One of my professors thought it would be a good idea to have, in addition to the theoretical texts I am reading, a list of objects of study which might include games, films, art works, etc. It's an interesting problem that few others in my department have to grapple with. I am in an English department therefore most of the other students have a readymade canon to draw from given the literary period or genre they study.
Has anyone out there attempted to compile such a list of artifacts they either believe should comprise some kind of canon or, perhaps, simply find most useful in their research?
The only other list I have found is available at Georgia Tech's Literature, Communication, and Culture website. There they have all of the books and cultural artifacts listed which their Ph.D. students can select from to compile exam lists. The games available for selection are: Space War, Pong, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. 3, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Adventure, Zork, Ultima Online, EverQuest, Myst, The Last Express, Civilization, Sim City, The Sims as well as various Interactive Fiction and "Narrative Computational Research Projects" such as Facade. A rather eclectic mix.
My specific interests are in games which deal with race, gender, and power, however, I would enjoy hearing from anyone who has created a list of key texts. I know I am finding it really helpful as a preparatory exercise prior to dissertation writing to try and construct a list of games which I think are important to look at.