The Phoenix, in celebration of some cryptic event (something about lasers and orgies) is having a big “best games ever” shindig. The paper published their own top fifty, along with their justifications, which is pretty good (if a bit standard as far as these things go). It has some questionable placements (Starcraft?), some unfortunate color text (apparently Civ is an RTS and Tails dying costs you rings), and Valve and Nintendo dominate the upper echelons (including all of the top 6, with Half-Life 2 taking the top honor). More interestingly, they also put up a random head-to-head generator with access to a library of 500 games total for users to vote on near infinitely. They are using the live results from those crosses to produce an alternate top fifty.
This is interesting, to me at least, because in one of our previous discussions on this subject, I speculated that lists created democratically using user votes will always be worse, objectively, than ones created by a small group of reviewers, largely because the broader public has less experience with a wider range of games and thus the common denominators will naturally rise to the top (usually popular multiplayer games like Halo and Melee). Further, the fact that these polls are on the internet means committed fanbases can and do mobilize votes on forums to give their game of preference outsized support. However, all of the previously critiqued polls have used either an elimination bracket or a round-robin, in each case every voter had the same decision to make. But when the match-ups are randomly generated and widely iterated, then the effects of our collective inexperience are diluted and the system is nigh impossible for specific fans to tweak,* resulting in probably the best crowd-sourced list I have come across. While the one put out by the Phoenix is certainly better, the user-generated list ends up being good enough that I probably could not tell the difference had they not been labelled. Either way, you should totally go vote, if only to plumb the depths of your own experiences and preferences.
*Though not totally without some strange fiddling, unless the Phoenix readers manage to like every mainline Zelda ever aside from OoT, which boggles the mind. Believe me, I love Majora’s Mask as much as the next guy, but it is ultimately a fantastic game trapped in a terrible one.