This one is a tough one. I think the idea of a game everyone should play requires all sorts of assumptions about everyone, which are bound to be wrong. I would say that everyone (who wants to play games) should play a wide variety of games in order to give themselves a good, solid gaming foundation. I guess this is the same idea as being widely read, rather than just reading on style of book. Still, I don’t really think that is in keeping with the whole question, so I’m going to pick a game that I thought was a lot of fun and a game that everyone should be able to play.
Although I suspect there is a large degree of nostalgia influencing me I have very fond memories of playing a game called Day of the Tentacle (published by Lucas Arts). Day of the tentacle was the sequel to Maniac Mansion, and I think it’s a game that a lot of people could enjoy. Unfortunately it’s not very readily available, but I managed to get the necessary files off of disks I found in the attic and can now relive my childhood.
In Day of the Tentacle purple tentacle drinks some toxic waste, which makes him a whole lot smarter and gives him aspirations of world domination. Green tentacle manages to send a message (via hamster no less) to three colourful characters; a nerd called Bernard Bernoulli, a crazy medical student called Laverne and a metal band roadie called Hoagie. They come to the rescue, discover a time machine and are sent to three different times. From there on it’s a point and click adventure. Characters can sent stuff to each other through their time machines, but the different times aspect adds a new mechanic. Instead of using the time machines to swap items, which is effectively instantaneous from the point of view of the item being swapped, someone from the past can also leave items in certain places for someone in the future, and those items will be affected by the passage in time. For example, leave a bottle of wine somewhere in the past and it turns to vinegar. Chop down a tree in the past and it disappear in the future. Anyway, as I said, I’m sure that there is a large degree of nostalgia but I still think Day of the Tentacle is worth some consideration. I’d certainly be interested if the game was recreated in high definition as they did with another humorous point and click adventure – monkey island.
The other game that I’m going to suggest we all play, although I’m not sure everyone would consider it to be a game is called Free Rice. Free Rice is a free crowd sourcing game in which you answer questions to accumulate grains of rice, which are donated to people who need them most. Free rice gradually increases the difficulty of it’s questions to try and get you to a point where you are always challenged by the questions, and then you don’t get bored. There is also some evidence that some mental tasks like the ones provided by free rice help to keep you sharp.
Free virtual rice is turned into actually free rice – funded by the advertising revenue the site generates.
If you’re interested in playing free rice go to www.FreeRice.com. I’ve created a group called Molly Pug’s Free Rice Extravaganza which anyone can join, so feel free to invite anyone else you think might want to participate. I wonder how much rice we can donate together!