Maker Faire 2011’s Favorite Games of All Time

Written by  //  May 27, 2011  //  Events  //  No comments

Eight hundred and sixty-four votes.

That is a lot of votes, folks. That’s about one vote per minute, and that’s what you did for us at Maker Faire! I’m sure you all want to see the final results, so we’ll skip straight to that:

1) Tetris (26 votes)
2) Minecraft (24 votes)
3) The Legend of Zelda (15 votes)
4) Pac-Man (14 votes)
4) Portal 2 (14 votes)
6) Portal (13 votes)
7) Tempest (11 votes)
8) Space Invaders (10 votes)
9) Angry Birds (9 votes)
9) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (9 votes)
11) Asteroids (8 votes)
11) Centipede (8 votes)
11) Civilization (8 votes)
11) Donkey Kong (8 votes)
11) Galaga (8 votes)
11) Myst (8 votes)
11) World of Warcraft (8 votes)

I’m sure everyone reading this has heard of Tetris. Originally developed by Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, this world-famous game has had dozens of variations and hundreds of versions. It’s sold over a hundred million copies on cell-phones alone, and the colored tetronimos that make up its components are icons of gaming.

Looking at the above list, you may notice that Zelda games occupy two different slots. Tetris may have an unfair advantage here. With its many, many variations, “Tetris” covers a huge number of different games, but here we’re combining almost all of them into a single category. If we combine our votes by series, we get a different picture:


1) The Legend of Zelda (36 votes)
2) Super Mario Bros (31 votes)
3) Portal (27 votes)
3) Tetris (27 votes)
5) Minecraft (24 votes)
6) Pac-Man (20 votes)
7) Final Fantasy (14 votes)
8) Civilization (13 votes)
9) Halo (11 votes)
9) Tempest (11 votes)
11) Half-Life (10 votes)
11) Space Invaders (10 votes)
13) Call of Duty (9 votes)
13) Myst (9 votes)

While many old games are stand-alone classics, modern game franchises prefer to keep their users long-term. We received votes for eight separate games in the Zelda series, from the original Nintendo game all the way up to Twilight Princess, released on the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The Mario games are an even better example. No single Mario game got more than seven votes, but combined, we received 31 votes for Mario platformers.

We’re going to be talking about many of these games in greater detail over the next few weeks, as well as showing off some of our contributors’ more artistic votes. But until then, we do have more statistics available. We asked our voters to include their year of birth when voting. Broken up by decades, here are the most popular games over time:


Born before 1950: 19 votes

Unfortunately, no two of our pre-1950 voters voted for the same game, which makes it hard to announce a winner. The list of games: 8-Ball Deluxe, Adventure, Angry Birds, Bridge, Chip’s Challenge, Chipwits, Everquest II, FLTSim, Loco-Motion, Lunar Lander, Monopoly, Ms. Pac-Man, Plants vs Zombies, Railroad Tycoon, Robotron: 2084, Tetris, The Incredible Toon Machine, The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, World of Warcraft.

The only pattern we can find is that older gamers are incredibly diverse. We have true ancient classics like Adventure, Tetris, and Ms. Pac-Man, modern casual games such as Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, the massively multiplayer games World of Warcraft and Everquest II, and a scattering of many other types and genres as well.


Born between 1950 and 1959: 63 votes

1) Space Invaders (5 votes)
2) Angry Birds (3 votes)
2) Defender (3 votes)
2) Missile Command (3 votes)
2) Tetris (3 votes)
6) Adventure (2 votes)
6) Asteroids (2 votes)
6) Battlezone (2 votes)
6) Galaxian (2 votes)
6) Pac-Man (2 votes)
6) Rogue (2 votes)
6) Zork (2 votes)

With the single exception of Angry Birds, this group is filled with classic arcade and adventure games. Most of these games were involved with the peak of the arcade boom in the early 80’s. Rogue and Zork were computer games, with Rogue a difficult-to-master dungeon crawler, and Zork a difficult-to-master adventure game. Games in this era are characterized by extreme difficulty. Early commercial games were intended for sucking down quarters in arcades, and this colored game development for years to come.


Born between 1960 and 1969: 148 votes

1) Tempest (10 votes)
2) Centipede (5 votes)
3) Joust (4 votes)
3) Myst (4 votes)
5) Defender (3 votes)
5) Donkey Kong (3 votes)
5) Galaga (3 votes)
5) Jumpman (3 votes)
5) Missile Command (3 votes)
5) Pac-Man (3 votes)

The big newcomer here is Tempest. Curiously, Tempest was released at about the same time as the other games showcased in the 50-59 section. Why is Tempest such a huge name here, while completely missing from 50-59? We don’t know! If you have a theory, we’d love to hear it.

The other odd name here is Myst, a groundbreaking visual adventure game . . . from 1993. While Myst received votes from other groups as well, it had a noticable concentration in the 1960-1969 area.


Born between 1970 and 1979: 182 votes

1) Tetris (8 votes)
2) The Legend of Zelda (7 votes)
3) Pac-Man (5 votes)
4) Asteroids (4 votes)
4) Galaga (4 votes)
4) Metroid (4 votes)
4) Pitfall (4 votes)
8) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (3 votes)
8) King’s Quest (3 votes)
8) Lode Runner (3 votes)

Tetris takes the lead here – a lead it won’t give up easily. While we still have stragglers from the arcade days, our leaderboard is now dominated by consoles and computers. I suspect Tetris’s dominance here is due, at least in part, to being bundled with the original Game Boy. Zelda and Metroid were extremely popular Nintendo games, Hitchhiker’s Guide and King’s Quest were early graphical computer games, and Lode Runner was available on both platforms.


Born between 1980 and 1989: 221 votes

1) Tetris (6 votes)
2) Chrono Trigger (5 votes)
2) Super Mario Bros. 3 (5 votes)
2) The Secret of Monkey Island (5 votes)
5) Final Fantasy VII (4 votes)
5) Portal (4 votes)
5) Super Mario Bros (4 votes)
5) Super Mario World (4 votes)
9) Bubble Bobble (3 votes)
9) Civilization (3 votes)
9) Day of the Tentacle (3 votes)
9) Deus Ex (3 votes)
9) Everquest (3 votes)
9) Final Fantasy VI (3 votes)
9) Minecraft (3 votes)
9) X-COM: UFO Defense (3 votes)

Tetris keeps the leader’s spot, but barely. Games in this region span the third through fifth console generations, from Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo to Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation, with several showings from computer platforms, and Bubble Bobble as the sole arcade holdout. This covers the time period when game 2d graphics were becoming beautiful, including the cartoonish backgrounds of Day of the Tentacle and the computer-generated pre-rendered backgrounds of Final Fantasy VII. This is also our first showing of Minecraft and Portal, two recent and noteworthy games . . .


Born between 1990 and 1999: 157 votes

1) Minecraft (16 votes)
2) Portal (8 votes)
3) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (6 votes)
4) Portal 2 (5 votes)
4) Tetris (5 votes)
6) Half-Life 2 (4 votes)
6) Halo: Reach (4 votes)
6) World of Warcraft (4 votes)
9) Super Mario 64 (3 votes)
9) Super Smash Bros. Melee (3 votes)
9) The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (3 votes)

. . . which claim a dominating lead in the 1990-1999 time period. Note the rise of the sequel – seven of our eleven top games are direct sequels or, in the case of Halo: Reach, prequels. The arcade has vanished entirely, and only two of the games shown here are unavailable on consoles. Other than the venerable Tetris, every game shown here uses 3d graphics.


Born after 1999: 72 votes

1) Minecraft (5 votes)
2) Angry Birds (4 votes)
3) Call of Duty: Black Ops (3 votes)
3) Roblox (3 votes)
5) Bioshock (2 votes)
5) Little Big Planet (2 votes)
5) Ninja Reflex (2 votes)
5) Plants vs Zombies (2 votes)
5) Portal 2 (2 votes)

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a large amount of information about the youngest generation. Angry Birds, our only cellphone game to reach the top lists, returns for its first appearance since Pre-1950. Minecraft continues to reign, as it probably will for some years into the future.

We have some suspicion that Call of Duty: Black Ops here is a data error. Not all of our voters talked to us before voting, and in retrospect, our instructions were somewhat unclear – we suspect some may have written down the year their favorite game was released, not the year they were born. That’s the problem with an informal poll like this.

In the hopes that some of our readers can find further interesting patterns in the data, we’re releasing all of our information publicly, on Google Documents. This information is provided under a permissive Creative Commons license, so you’re welcome to make use of it. If you use our data, please send it to us or give us a link – we want to give you credit. We’d love to see graphs showing the rise and fall of various game systems, but that will require that someone go through and tag all of our games with the system they’re associated with. Will that person be you?

As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be posting a lot more about this in the coming weeks. Come back later to get detailed information about Maker Faire 2011’s favorite games!

Leave a Comment


comm comm comm