I'm creating a syllabus for a college course on the history of role-playing games. You can find out more about this project here.
Several weeks ago I asked you to suggest RPG titles you considered essential for a seminar course devoted to the history of the genre. I quickly received a slew of useful suggestions; then, after Kotaku and several other sites picked up my story, a second wave arrived. I've also received many helpful email messages from gamers far and wide. I can't thank you enough for your interest and willingness to help a person you've never met construct the best experience he can for his students. I'm terribly grateful.
I thought you might enjoy seeing some summary data, so I've compiled the results of all your suggestions and tallied them below. Over the next few days I will generate a draft of the syllabus with the preliminary list of games I plan to assign. A few quick thoughts:
- Games like X-Com and Zelda: Ocarina of Time clearly stretch the definition of "RPG." Many respondents argued these titles illustrate how great games have effectively incorporated RPG elements into other genres like strategy or adventure games. This makes sense to me. Given the short time I have available to me (one semester), I will try to illustrate these influences as best I can without veering too far off the RPG track.
- Obviously, time restrictions present a special challenge because many RPGs require dozens of hours to complete. I deal with this by assigning asynchronous work. Various games are assigned to small groups of students at different times, and throughout the semester students present their games to the class in an analytical format.
- Several of you suggested using save files as a way of abridging certain games. I like this idea, especially for games I want to expose my students to without assigning them.
- I don't feel bound by a linear historical progression. Jumping from Wizardry to Etrian Odyssey, for example, could be a great way to study the lineage of certain RPG design motifs.
- While it's very interesting for me to consider how many people recommend game X over game Y, ultimately this project isn't an RPG popularity contest, and I must choose a collection of games that best serve my pedagogical goals.
Here's the list. It represents responses I received from 156 people. To keep the list manageable, I've included only titles suggested by two or more people.