Some folks use lists as tools to keep their busy lives in order. Others are just compulsive list makers. Some lists are collections of facts and figures - the dry necessities of life, I suppose. But here, we're talking purely subjective choices, brought together for the fun of it.
Many publications, websites, podcasts, blogs and broadcasts have their top-ten lists (or top eleven, or even top 100). Folks are interested because we understand the list maker's feelings about a subject. We probably share the same values or opinions. In any case, to paraphrase: "One man's Top Ten is another man's Bottom Ten." We all have a right to our own opinion (right or wrong).
I beg your forgiveness. I might not have played every Board Game in the history of everything. I try, but the real world tends to hinder my efforts. So my lists are based on two major criteria: "What do I think of a game based on personal experience?" and/or "What does the rest of the world think of it?"
Likewise, I can't read every Top Ten list in the world, so I might be missing some critical evaluation somewhere out there. So take these entries as my own non=professional opinion in whatever wacky category we can come up with, and be sure to let me know when my opinion is wrong.
1. Top Ten lists inform, succinctly, of what the list maker deems noteworthy. Some list makers take great care in making their lists, subjecting every candidate to detailed and systematic scrutiny. Others like something because they like it. 'Nuff said.
2. Comparing Top Ten lists reinforces the individual evaluations with a group opinion. Statistically, if the number of Top Ten lists being compared is huge, the opinion should eventually approach a high degree of objectivity. (All you philosophers out there please refute that argument.)
3. If I trust a Top Ten list, it saves me a lot of primary research. Let someone else do the trial-and-error and I will benefit. This assumes that the list maker's opinions, values, and tastes are similar to my own.
4. They're quick. I can scan a Top Ten list in a few seconds, as opposed to reading in-depth critiques of a group of games. It's fast food for the opinionator.
5. They aren't necessarily intended to be permanent. Most such lists are revised and reissued as often as the authors wish. They are living documents that change as the subject matter or the criteria change.
6. I can ignore a Top Ten list that I disagree with. (And so can you!)
7. Top Ten lists save me money. That is to say, they can help me avoid spending money unwisely. Like most folks, I can succumb to the shiny and sometimes even the hype, but if I see that a majority of trusted sources advise caution, I can think about the purchase one more time.
8. Learn something new! A Top Ten will often include a previously unfamiliar item. By its inclusion in the list, it may well be a candidate for further investigation. Seek it out, play it, evaluate it, buy it, recommend it!
9. Influence a tough decision with additional input. I might find myself torn between two alternatives, and a Top Ten list could persuade me to decide one way or the other, thus relieving me of the stress of a tough decision. (Then, if I find it's ultimately a wrong decision, I have someone else to blame.)
10. Ten is a nice number for stuff. Ten fingers and toes. Ten single-digit numbers (if you count zero). Ten millimeters in a centimeter. It's all very convenient, and easy to accommodate mentally. Top 100 lists might just as well be a Top Million... I really only care about the Top Ten. Don't you?
11. Well, it's one louder, isn't it?