Rob Beckett’s Playing For Time: A Guide to ‘00s Gaming

Rob Beckett’s Playing For Time continued last night on Channel 4, and to celebrate, we’re continuing our look back at gaming through the past four decades.

The ‘00s saw two new generations of consoles, as well as the advent of online gaming on consoles. As technology picked up the pace, the games we played got better and better, with an extraordinary range of genre-defining (and defying) experiences sucking up all our spare time.

So if you grew up in the era of frosted tips, flip phones, and Justin Timberlake wearing double denim, get ready for a nostalgia tidal wave.

The Sims

We were only two months into Y2K when The Sims slipped onto PC, where designing and looking after a virtual family gripped us all. There were the architects who wanted to create the perfect house, and then there were the sadists who loved ordering their Sim into a pool and removing the steps they needed to get out. What do you mean that was just us?


Master Chief’s debut proved to be a defining moment for first person shooters on console. A cinematic sci-fi story and the vivid alien worlds you fight through hooked fans, while the addictive multiplayer battles kept them coming back. The introduction of a two-weapon limit and recharging health was a unique mixture at the time, before being adopted by nearly every shooter that followed it.

Resident Evil 4

Similarly, Resident Evil 4 is one of the most important action games ever made. The move to a tight, over-the-shoulder camera was a major influence for action games going forward (look at everything from Gears of War to Uncharted for proof), and it successfully shook up the survival horror genre. You had just enough power to fight back, but never enough to feel comfortable.

Guitar Hero

Remember when your bedroom was flooded with plastic guitars that allowed you to shred through some of the best songs ever committed to tape? Guitar Hero was the spark for a whole generation of awesome rhythm action games that made us feel like the child of Slash and Carlos Santana. Thrashing out a flawless performance of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’ is the coolest we’ve ever felt.

The Orange Box

What happens when you take the full version of Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 and put them all into one package? You get one of the best deal in gaming! Three of the best first person experiences to ever grace gaming, they individually offered exhilarating adventure, fiendish puzzles, and fantastic multiplayer firefights.

Angry Birds

The launch of the iPhone was pivotal for gaming, as apps offered smaller, bite-sized games that were perfect for the commute. This amazingly addictive physics puzzler had you flinging different types of cartoony birds into green pigs and instantly became one of the biggest games in the world. To be fair, wiping the smug smiles off those pigs was very satisfying.

Wii Sports

When the Wii launched with its innovative motion controls, the console needed a game that could showcase how fun its unique controls could be. Wii Sports came in the box and was a great way to get you used to swinging, waggling, and waving your way to victory! Plus, it hooked people who weren’t traditional gamers, making family get-togethers a lot more interesting… Especially when your uncle accidentally threw a Wiimote through your mum’s brand new telly.