On Dec. 7, Samuel L. Jackson will host the 10th annual Spike Video Game Awards. To mark this monumental birthday, Entertainment Weekly has teamed up with Spike TV to celebrate the videogames that defined the last decade. In the past 10 years, videogames moved decisively into the mainstream of popular culture. The societal impact of major franchises like Call of Duty, or Halo, or Grand Theft Auto arguably supersedes the effect of comparable movie franchises. If anything, Hollywood is more and more taking its cues from videogames. (Sometimes literally. See: Assassin’s Creed: The Movie That Might Not Be Terrible.)
At the same time, this was an era in which the whole medium of videogames splintered in several intriguing new directions. The Wii, Nintendo’s left-turn evolutionary device, helped to usher in a casual-gamer revolution. The steady growth of the smartphone market turned everyone into a gamer… and, at the same time, ushered in the popular decline of the Great Big Epic Videogame. The advance of the downloadable market created a boomlet in eccentric indie videogames: This was the era of Braid, Limbo, and Journey. That same advance may point the way towards a serialized form of gaming: This year’s episodic Walking Dead adaptation from Telltale Games, or the weekly release of “Spartan Ops” on Halo 4.
In attempting to put together a list of the 10 best games of the last decade, the EW brain trust looked at games that pushed the medium forward. Some popular choices fell by the wayside — there are a lot of great games hovering at No. 11 on this list. You can read more about the 10 games, and our justification for picking them, in our Games of the Decade gallery. In the end, we picked 10 games that represent an industry simultaneously hitting its peak while staring down a brave, scary, fascinating new era.
That’s where you come in. Now that we’ve assembled the list, we need you to decide which of them is the absolute, unqualified, no-contest Best Videogame of the last decade. You can vote in the poll below now. The winner will be announced on Dec. 7 during the VGA’s. And feel free to have a thoughtful debate in the comment boards. What’s the fun of making a list if you can’t argue about it?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich
Read More of EW’s Games Coverage:
The Nintendo Wii U: A review
E3 2012: It’s Awards Time!
What if your favorite summer movies were retro videogames?
Videogames vs. Movies: Have games replaced films as the modern popular narrative medium?
Videogames I Grew Up With: The EW Staff Speaks!