GameFAQs just completed a round-robin tournament of "who would win in a fight?" among 128 video games released during the 2000s. These were the most popularly nominated before the tournament began, and each match was decided by a survey with tens of thousands of respondents.
And the game of the decade is Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which came out so long ago -- fall 2000 -- that even I have played it, and I mostly tuned out during the boring 3D-soap-opera era of video games. If you did too, you apparently didn't miss much.
The past two holidays that I've visited home for, I've seen my brother dither away at least four hours a day on Grand Theft Auto IV multiplayer, one of the most hyped games of the past 10 years. Most of the gameplay reduces to killing someone and waiting near the area where they will re-appear, just to kill them right away when they do. Whether he's the dorkmeister doing the camping or he's on the receiving end of it, watching this "game" puts me right to sleep, and my brother too looks like a zombie playing it.
In its repetitiveness, it's not very different from the mindless marathons of leveling up that keep me away from role-playing games like the Final Fantasy or Pokemon series. No skill or challenge involved -- just logging enough hours.
I wonder who would win in a similar round-robin tournament for games of the 1990s and '80s. My bet for the '90s would be Super Metroid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Mario Bros. 3. For the '80s, it would come down to Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 2, Metroid, and Tetris. Sadly, most video game players these days are into the putz-around-with-nothing-to-do-and-never-die style, so Ocarina of Time would probably win both the '90s and a tri-decade contest.
It's surprising how little innovation there's been in video games since the 3D era began. All of the top contenders for Game of the Decade or of All Time trace back to characters, storylines, and game concepts developed during the golden age of the late '80s and early '90s. Of course during this time there's been little or no innovation in rock music, rap music, etc., so it's not the fault of video game makers or players -- it's a really broad blandness in the entire culture. It makes you wonder what it would have been like if video games had been invented in the late '50s along with rock music. There, we went from singles-band Beatles to album-oriented Guns N' Roses. But video games only started to mature much later, and so had only a handful of years to create before the whole culture came inside from the playground and began taking a really long nap.