Introducing a young person to a work of art is a uniquely fulfilling moment, for both mentor and mentee. "Aren't you reading any books that set your world on fire?" my professor asked when I came in 25 years ago to argue about my grade in "Sociology of Prisons.” When I told him not really, he slid over a dog-eared paperback of Ragtime, and a love of historical fiction was born.
In that spirit, Ben Bertoli, a contributor at Kotaku and a guy I wrote about when I worked there, is publishing a book called 101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up. The premise alone is enough of a conversation-starter. Yes, someone, somewhere, has an essential game that he didn't list. Hashing that out is part of the fun here.
As a first draft, this is a well considered catalog, speaking to a very personal love of video games. It's a list that touts Kingdom Hearts beside Costume Quest; SSX with a mainstay like FIFA; Patapon and Katamari and Ni No Kuni with cornerstones such as Portal and Galaga.
Some really big names are not in here (no Call of Duty, no Grand Theft Auto, not even Uncharted) mainly because this is a kids' book, so the list is holding to titles that minors can buy themselves. It's still intriguing that no Metroid nor Castlevania games make an appearance, but the metroidvania Guacamelee! does.
Bertoli, a middle-school teacher, is curating a list of fun for the kind of kids he sees every day. Each entry comes with a space for the reader to check off playing, it, give it a rating, and jot down thoughts about why it appealed to them.
His book will be published Oct. 1. Here are the 101 games he suggests. It's fun to go through them and think of the ones I've played, and when, and maybe even why I haven't played them in such a long time. How many can you check off?