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It's funny, but I was thinking earlier that somebody would probably argue for Tetris. I actually initially started this post as "Elite: One of the Greatest Games" but then thought, nah, it is THE greatest. Still, I recognize David's points and agree about Privateer. Even though I haven't played Privateer myself, I've heard enough about it to see how it takes the concepts laid down in Elite and arguably enhances them.
Again, not having played the game, it's a bit silly for me to generalize about it, but if it does indeed stress characters, then it's striving for something different than Elite. The only characters in Elite are the ones you imagine for yourself.
I'd be curious what the ratio of people was who still play Privateer vs. those who play Elite. If we had some data, we might be able to see if it's truly fair to use the Space Invaders/Galaga comparison. Obviously, there are thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people who've played Galaga and continue to play the game that have never even seen Space Invaders. Is that true for Privateer and Elite? I really don't know.
Anyway, as far as Tetris is concerned, it's one of those unfortunate situations where you're trying to compare apples and oranges. Depending on how you define the term "videogame," and what criteria you use to evaluate them, then, sure, Tetris could very well be the greatest. Nevertheless, it lacks most of the qualities I value, such as imaginative potential. When you get right down to it, there's nothing dramatic, creative, or imaginative about playing Tetris. It's just simple strategy and reflex.
It's rather like trying to compare, say, a novel to a crossword puzzle. Yes, they both occur on paper, but they've so vastly different that it's hard to really talk about which one is better.
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