An Accounting Of Days Lost

Were I to somehow graphically represent the landscape of my life as a gamer, I think what I would find would be large swatches of tillable flatland dominated by an occasional and completely incongruous mountain, sort of like putting a half dozen Mount Everests right in the middle of South Dakota. I have played an absolutely incomprehensible number of video games in my life, but it seems as though the time I invest in a handful of that number dominates my nostalgia. Lost are most of the entirely average games, which I enjoyed for a smattering of hours before dismissing into obscurity, and as I think back on my years I find that there are a few standouts.

How do you judge your favorite all-time video games? Like Rob Gordon of High Fidelity fame, I am happy to rank my memories and feelings into some easily digestible list, and like Nick Hornby's erstwhile, vaguely postmodern anti-hero I do not necessarily do so in an arbitrary way. It may be emotionally inviting to define the best games I've ever played in a gut check response, a list that is ever fluid as the tidal forces of my mood was and wane, but in some kind of empirical analysis, credit must be given to these Dakotan Everests; these games that rise from the plateau and eat away days, weeks, and even months. So, I offer for you the five games that most engrossed and monopolized my gaming days, and invite you to do the same.

Yes, it's a trite exercise, but like many of the games to follow, a simple yet thoroughly enjoyable endeavor.

5) Diablo 2 – Stay A While and Listen – Position five was the most up for grabs for my personal list. From here on out, it's easy to track the dominating titles of my gaming life, but this slot seemed potentially available to any number of options; the last of the second tier perhaps. By putting the restriction on this list that it must be a single game rather than a franchise, the choice became clearer, and Diablo 2 snuck in for the five spot.

Were I to allow franchises instead, this would easily be the domain of Civilization, and I point that out because an honorable mention is warranted.

But, Diablo II and its expansion still seem as inviting now as they did when released, and the truth is that only the very softest of nudges would find me reinstalling the game and leveling up another Sorceress or Necromancer. As much as I may join the chorus that despises Act III and its perpetually annoying pygmy adversaries, this is a game I've played again and again, both online and off. I've been through all three difficulties, felled Mephisto more times than I care to count, enjoyed the silly onslaught of the cow level, and tried dozens of builds.

An addicting and simple experience with limitless replayability.

4) Everquest"”SoW Plz– I remember with some nostalgia my first steps in Qeynos, and the amazing potential of this persistent and three-dimension world laid out before me. Then there was the rat killing, the gnoll killing, the bear killing, killing some skeletons and crocodiles, being killed by giants while killing skeletons and/or crocodiles, and so on and so forth. Why couldn't I quit you Everquest? It's a question that I couldn't answer for, oh, let's say a few hundred hours of playtime.

Credit where credit is due: the game was consistently iconic and laid the groundwork for a successful genre. From the plains of Karana to the Desert of Ro to the Field of Bone to Velious and Luclin, I've spent more time in individual zones of EQ than I have spent in most games. Unbelievably this is a game that continues to survive if not flourish with a new expansion – the 14th I believe – freshly released, and everytime I hear of some new content waiting to be plumbed there is this coppery taste of fresh desire in the back of my mouth.

You never totally fall out of love with your first.

3) World of WarCraft – You Are Not Prepared – Strange as it may seem to some who've known me over the past few years, WoW only ranks as my third most played game of all time. Admittedly that could change over the years, as World of WarCraft draws me inexorably back to its comfortable and familiar bosom time and again.

It is a triumph of MMO design, and the kind of experience that somehow manages to improve with age. The game does so many things consistently right that there's just no good starting point to begin singing its praises. Time is meaningless in the world, and despite the Sisyphean nature of the genre, Blizzard has applied such master touches to the gameplay that it demands acts of Herculean will just to log off for the night.

Coupled with an outstanding community of WoW players born from the site, thus making even the most tedious of quests entertaining, it's easy to pretend like there are no other games on my computer.

2) Counter-Strike –Go! Go! Go! – How many times have I played Dust and Office in my life? So many times that I can imagine easily the architecture of those levels, perhaps could even draw them with my eyes closed.

For as much as the greatness of the WoW community fuels my desire to play that game, the flotsam that made up much of Counter-Strike's public community fueled my desire to play that game and kill them. I was never great at CS, and on the occasions that I played against the truly gifted I was reminded soundly of that fact, but I was good, and more importantly I knew the levels, knew how to squeeze off short accurate shots, and how to not accidentally flash bang my own teammates. Counter-Strike is a game that rewards repetition and practice, and for years it was a consistent outlet for my destructive desires, in frankly unhealthy ways.

And, while much of my time with the game was spent stewing in the fog of fury that can only be born from being AWPed one too many times, it also defined some of my greatest gaming moments: planting the bomb as the last player alive, and then defending it against the four enemies remaining; slowly picking off a handful of enemies to win the match; the lucky grenade that bounces just right to wipe out three enemies; rescuing the last hostage under a hail of bullets, and so on.

1) Subspace/Continuum – I've Taken J12 – This last game will only be vaguely familiar to a select few, but it takes my number one spot by a healthy margin. I played Subspace for something like three-and-a-half years, and virtually nothing else, a bizarre statement of fact considering what a terribly simple game it is. Keyboard controlled spaceships on a flat 2D spacemap engage in combat while collecting power-ups, and yet sometimes it is the most simple of concepts and implementations that attract us the longest.

The beauty of Subspace, or Continuum as it is now known in the small niche of the internet where a few thousand people still play, is hard to describe, in part because it eventually became so player defined that the original game was little more than a concept on which people created new playstyles, new rulesets and new experiences. But, the game mechanics are fundamentally sound, and environments with a sense of momentum make pulling off a particularly squirrely and successful maneuver feel very rewarding. To know the moment of making just the right thrust to slip between obstacles while dropping the perfectly placed bomb which destroys a persistent pursuer is to know joy.

This game came to me in the aftermath of first acquiring consistent and reliable internet access that wasn't paid for by the minute. In this heady environment of unfettered access to the digital ether, this game begged me to play into the wee morning hours, which I was only too happy to oblige.

It is, I admit, trivial this casual journey through addiction and obsession, but these are the games that have defined who I am as a gamer. I see their influence in the games that continue to attract me, and those that do not. The idea that someday one of these games will be usurped by the obsessions yet to come fuels my fire for gaming.


2) Counter-Strike –Go! Go! Go! – How many times have I played Dust and Office in my life? So many times that I can imagine easily the architecture of those levels, perhaps could even draw them with my eyes closed.

This is my big one. over 300 hours on Source and around 100 on 1.6. I still find myself going back to some of the classic pubs and a gungame server or two for nostalgia's sake. I've become so familiar with maps and how they are played, this is now a meaningless enough task to warrant playing with the sound off while listening to the podcast and still making top 3. Counterstrike to a large extent defines what I think of as a good multi-player shooter.

Hooray for top lists! My top 5 timesinks are of course dominated by MMO's...but I've since sworn off the things.

5. Counter Strike - Elysium says it all, not much I can add here.
4. Everquest - insanely addictive, but also the biggest source of frustration I've ever experienced in gaming.
3. Dark Age of Camelot - RvR, in its best implementation so far. Enormous ganking fun.
2. Tribes - I have sooo many great memories of playing Tribes with my friends. Wide open spaces, smooth as silk gameplay, fantastic vehicles and map design. I can't count the hours I sunk into this one.
1. Everquest 2 - I know, not the most popular game in the world right now, by about 8 million subscribers. But while no one was paying attention, EQ2 has slowly transformed into...I'll say it, MMO out there, the one that gets more things right than any other game. It's killing me not to pick up the latest expansion....just thinking of how good it would feel to jump back in....I think I need to call my sponsor.

Admittedly that could change over the years, as World of WarCraft draws me inexorably back to its comfortable and familiar bosom time and again.

You're getting pretty close to the edge of that wagon, mister.

Stick together, team!
Careful, she's gonna blow!
Hostage has been resqued!

For a couple of years, I was haunted by these phrases randomly ringing in my head.

I remember Subspace. It was one of the first games to work flawlessly over dial-up, and its network code was way way ahead of its time.

I started playing a Counter-Strike with 1.5 and I just turned 15 not long ago, so judging by the release date I would've had to of been 9 or 10 when I first played it. When you've been playing a game off and on for that long it just feels like a comfort zone.

*Honorable Mention* - Geneforge Franchise, by Spiderweb software. Any CRPG fans are doing themselves a serious disservice not looking at this. All told, the series could dethrone planescape for hours played. But, just individual games, not so much. (There's 4.)

5. Final Fantasy 7 - My first real RPG on the PSX (And only the second I ever played), I always find myself tossing this in the PS2 (Or emulator on the laptop) if I'm bored, and nothing else sounds amusing.

4. Planescape: Torment. IMO, the greatest game of all time. I've played through as the nameless one I can't tell you how many times.

3. Jedi Knight. A mediocre game shot to stardom by the community. I've never seen the level design creativity some of the mod-makers put into it, in anything else. Anyone else who played online - remember Purgatory? Or the Jawa Sandcrawler SE? Amature brilliance I've never since seen.

2. Darkstone - It's a sucky diablo wannabe. But I played this game more online than any game except Tribes, my #1. There was such an awesome group of people that was usually online the same time I was.

1. Tribes. Starsiege: Tribes. In my humble opinion, C-S has NOTHING on this sci-fi team gem. And my proudest gaming moment came in this game. I lost days of my life at a time, in a ridiculously unhealthy fashion to this game. I don't think it's the greatest game of all time, but it was the perfect game at the right time for me.

5)Solitaire/Hearts/Free Cell/Minesweeper - That's right, the little built in games that come with your computer. I don't know how many games of each of those I've played. Thousands apiece for sure.

4)Counter-Strike - I got into it late. My freshman year of college everyone in the dorm had cracked versions of counter-strike. Every night we'd get in a game and start killing each other. You'd hear your friends' screams from down the hallway as you flashbanged a room full of the other team (and sometimes your own). After that year, HL2 and CS:S came out. There was one summer I would wake up at 5pm and play CS:S until 10am, every day. In those rare moments I would venture *shudder* outside, the world was seen through the CS lens. I was constantly looking out for snipers and trying to figure out where I could get some cover should a firefight break out.

3)Heroes of Might and Magic 2 - When I was in middle school, my friends and I would have sleep overs (usually at my house) and we would stay up literally all night playing Hot Seat games of HoMM2. I still sometimes have the music from the Warlock Castle get stuck in my head randomly. Some of my best childhood memories are of playing that game (and the chatting/tv watching that happened in the 30 minutes between turns)

2)World of Warcraft - Even now that I've been WOW free for over 6 months, I still can't get away from it. My boss and a co-worker are in a guild that's just breaking into Karazhan and I get to hear about it during my entire lunch break. When will I be rid of this game?!?!? (probably never)

1)Civilization 2 - I've played through this game more times than I can remember. I can still remember the day I got it as a Christmas present. I remember my dad and I installing it on our computer and him sitting down to read the manual and me sitting down to teach myself how to play. I remember being able to answer obscure questions in my high school Western Civ class because it was written in the Civopedia.

5) Quake - a year and a half of 2-3 hour stints plus countless hours making custom maps in Worldcraft

4) Ultima Online - 2.5 years with almost 2 of them solid, then a 6 month break and then another 6-8 month tour

3) Everquest - 2.5 years followed by an 8 month stint an several 2 month stints on expansion releases

2) Diablo 2 - roughly 4 years out of a 5.5 year span

1) World of Warcraft - only 3 years and a few months but it was an everyday habit with no more than a handful of times where I didn't play for 2 days in a row and I would play for 5-8 hours a day and I have never played any other game at work for long stints during work

5) Civilization 4 (obsession in progress )

4) Diablo 2

3) Dark Age of Camelot

2) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

1) Magestorm (Will anyone even know what this was? I think it had, maybe, at best, 400 players making finding another even here a dim possibility at best.)

Ignoring stuff on the Spectrum from when I was a nipper (e.g. Target Renegade, Head Over Heels, Laser Squad, The Hobbit)

In ascending order of time spent:
5) Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy: I can't really account for how much time I've spent playing this. There aren't that many really fantastic levels (though I really enjoy the train level in the first block and the jedi tomb level in the last block), but I never get bored of the Darth Maul-like saber staff.
4) Transport Tycoon. I wasted so much time on this game. I'm not sure I ever got past about about 1960. It was more fun to start again.
3) UFO: Enemy Unknown (AKA X-Com: UFO Defence). We've been through this. I renamed all the soldiers, with each uni faculty getting a base (e.g. Western Europe was the engineers, North America the mathmos and the physicists and chemists, and so on). I learned how to design my bases for defendability, made laser rifles to make money. Magic
2) Civ 2: This was the last one they released before I had kids. Ah, the nostalgia.
1) World of Warcraft: I am strong. I must not relent.

I'm not sure on top 5, but my top 2 are easily Counter-Strike followed closely by Starcraft.

I easily sunk over a thousand hours into Starcraft's multiplayer alone, and Counter-Strike, all the way from Beta2 up through 1.6 received probably double that of Starcraft.

It's pretty disturbing to think about now, but very.. very true.

5. Warcraft 2 - I used to spend hours playing this game before school when the journalism club would meet and after football, wrestling and baseball practice would end and before my parents would pick me up from my friends house.
4. Everquest - For all of the same reasons above. I can remember when I would meet someone who played on my server and we'd give each other our character names and see if we gamed together or how far apart we were. It's the geek version of 6 degrees.
3. Dark Age of Camelot - I started playing with the EvilAvatar guild and it's how I met everyone here (pretty much). I still have an active account thanks to Mythic offering me a job and never turning off my account.
2. Ultima Online - I played it straight from Beta to the release of EverQuest (which happend on the first day of my spring break my sophmore year of high school).
1. Diablo 2 - I played this game like a fiend, still sometimes do, and all of the lones (Nox, Dark Stone, etc).

5. Diablo - Yes, I played more Diablo 1 than 2. And I still think it's the better game.
4. Team Fortress - For a long, long time I used up most of my monthly 20 hours of dial-up playing Team Fortress.
3. Counter-Strike - Enough has been said about CS already, I think.
2. Tribes - Tribes 1 looked and ran fantastic for its time and there was really nothing else like it.
1. Asheron's Call - The only MMO I've really sunk a significant amount of time into. The game systems were sometimes unbalanced if not outright broken but it had a sense of freedom and exploration that modern MMOs don't have. The skill of the player was as important as that of the character and it didn't feel so cynically calculated as the color coded EQ - WoW style MMOs.

1. Alison Ashmore
2. Penny Hardwick
3. Jackie Alden
4. Charlie Nicholson
5. Sarah Kendrew

5) Ultima III - This was my first MMO.... sorta... My friends and I would get together and play Ultima III together, each pretending to be one of the characters and making combat decisions appropriately. This was my first social computer game, and it greatly influenced what I think computer games can be.

4) Team Fortress 2 - A cheap plug for the game that got me back into shooters. I had lost faith after Unreal Tournament. The landscape seemed scorched with bland environments and unnecessary origami. It's been great to play a fun shooter again.

3) Wing Commander 2 - Oh space shooters, how I miss thee! X-wing and Tie-fighter may have done it better, but the Wing Commander series still makes my inner child hum. I finally got old enough to make enough money to afford that massive force-feedback joystick, and the genre collapsed. It's been sitting in my closet for years... waiting... just waiting.

2) Star Control 2 - I consider this the best RPG ever made. Comical, epic, action-packed... Star Control 2 took the genre and set a new standard for excellence. It is the only single-player RPG that I have played totally through more than twice. As a matter of fact, I suspect I may have actually played fully through this game as many as five times. And I still say, "launch, launch, launch fighters"... even though only old people get it.

1) Warcraft 2 - This is where the RTS really got good. Starcraft was great, but most of its innovation stemmed from things developed in Warcraft 2. We would spend entire weekend nights, me and my five club-hopping friends, holed up in the offices of a local biotech firm playing this game. We'd got get some drinks, see some friends, then head to my buddy's company to crush each other under heel. It wasn't just guys, either. Good times... good times.

Civilization and World of Warcraft should be in there somewhere, but they somehow don't seem as seminal as these examples. These are milestones in my gaming life, not just games that logged the most amount of time played. I'd also toss in the original Wipeout as a console ideal, along with the obvious Mario games.

5 - Total Annihilation - While I like Supreme Commander more I still have sunk much more time at this point into Total Annihilation. First game I owned on a PC.
4 - Counter Strike - This was my freshman year of college.
3 - Marathon Series - I have no idea how many times I play through these.
2 - Warcraft 2 - Not much else to play on the Mac back in the 90s. I sunk a lot of time into this one.
1 - Myth: The Fallen Lords. Only game that I ever got really good at online. I would only play one map with one set of units, but I got really good with that group.

5) Thief - I had never seen a stealth FPS before, and was hooked the instant I saw it. Probably the only FPS I have played through multiple times, just to see if I could do my own various challenges like blackjack everyone, or no one. Plus the fact it had a stat for "Ariel Blackjacks" that I found by accident has allowed my many memorable hours of fun.

4) MULE - This is the only computer game I know of that every member of my family has played together. Outside Christmas, birthdays, or other holidays this game holds some of the best childhood family memories I have. It would be higher, but I have not played this game in over 15 years is all.

3) Final Fantasy 11 - I have tried MANY other MMO's over the years, from WoW, and CoV, through dozens of Korean/Chinese/Japanese smaller MMO's. Final Fantasy 11 always brings me back. From great players that I have met, to a interesting economy, to a fun (to me) crafting experience, I have had a great time every session.

2) Master of Orion 2 - Of all the re-playable games I know this one holds best. The race customization feature allows such a large variety of race types and play styles. Simple game mechanics and a fun design all come together to a single game I will still be playing a decade from now.

1) Ultima 4 - Of all the Ultima's this is the one I will remember the most. Playing on the C64 with the 4 floppy disk's for the various areas, and learning my through the game. This was the first game I played through myself with no other member of my family helping. I drew my maps of the dungeons, copied my mantras, discovered the locations of secrets, and explored a world myself. I doubt any game that gets created today could allow me to re-create that experience.

5) TF2: An up-and-comer.

4) Silent Hunter 3: The only game that made doing math fun.

3) COD/COD:UO: Got me back into FPS's and kept me away from Counter Strike.

2) Civ: Doesn't matter which version, there's always enough time for one more turn!

1) BF2 and BF2 mods: 1,000+ hours on vanilla and SF and easily 250+ hours on BF2 mods (Project Reality and POE2).

kaostheory wrote:

2)World of Warcraft - Even now that I've been WOW free for over 6 months, I still can't get away from it. My boss and a co-worker are in a guild that's just breaking into Karazhan and I get to hear about it during my entire lunch break. When will I be rid of this game?!?!? (probably never)

Come back to us, come back to ussssss. To Kara we will take you...

The Fly wrote:
Admittedly that could change over the years, as World of WarCraft draws me inexorably back to its comfortable and familiar bosom time and again.

You're getting pretty close to the edge of that wagon, mister.

Yeah seriously. After all deleting characters just means you get to start fresh with something new. Remember how gratifying those first 15 levels or so are? It's really easy to resubscribe. Very fuss. Just try it. No big deal. It's just a game, after all.

I hate to alarm you people, but that ship has sailed.

We know...dark side.

5 - X-Com (Original, not Terror from the Deep); my ultimate sniper --Spencer Carr, if I remember Correctly-- could hit the left nostril of ANYTHING from a map away, siting behind a grocery store counter kneeling down. He sucked at psyck abilities and would usually get controlled.

4 - Final Fantasy VII; I only played the first 12 or so hours of FFVII and then took the back seat to my small brother who would keep up with the story, give me abreviated executive reports and save before every CGI so I could enjoy it. Also, he took care of all the Weapon's. I consider myself lucky to have spent the first weekends with him and that game, otherwise I wouldn't have understood why he almost came to tears at the death of Aeris. What I remember most of that game was waking up in the middle of the night and finding my brother still playing. I'd sit down, have a smoke and then go back to bed. I don't consider these hours lost, but a quality-time-bonding through videogames; FFVII Specifically.

3 - Warcraft 3 - DotA; I can't believe how addicting this game is. I played it over this weekend and have completely lost what little skill I had. The learning curve will be fun to regain.

2 - Counter Strice : Source

1 - Grim Fandango

While I still play CSS once a week (until this TF2 phase passes and I go back to my daily fix of CSS), I give Grim Fandango the perfect 10. I still play this game time to time (about every other year). I do lose hours because I save before every conversation and try to get as many lines and dialogues out of it. For me, Grim is an old friend, a comforte zone and a hobby (if you will) that keeps making me smile, no matter how many times I play it, or how weird the game behaves as the graphic cards and OS keep leaving DOS games behind and unsupported..

Great post BTW.

No mention of Day of Defeat?

My quick list:

- Halo 2
- Civilization (whatever I currently have installed)
- Descent
- World of Warcraft
- Day of Defeat

I don't know how to rank them, but my top 5 would be some combination of the following based upon how much I remember enjoying them while I was playing them:

Asheron's Call (PC)
Sid Meier's Pirates Gold (PC)
Cyberball (Genesis/Arcade)
Civ II (PC)
Starflight (Genesis)

1) Subspace/Continuum

Realistic Subspace Hockey League 4EVAR!!!

I'll protect the flags at D6 with emps, hit the base at G7.

5) Final Fantasy III(US)/VI(JP)
Strange that a linear RPG makes it to this list, but I invested SOOO much time into this game. It was the reason I begged my parents for a (used) SNES, and the game that initially drew me into RPG's. I've played through it multiple times, leveled all my characters to 99 on one occassion, explored the map endlessly for new secrets (I just KNOW you can play as general leo, I don't care what square says), etc. Tons of hours sunk. Eventually I moved on to Chrono Trigger and FFII.
Sad story is that FF7 just never captured that same magic - I found the settings, characters, and plot to be a lot blander than FF3/6, not to mention the localization a hell of a lot worse. I know for a lot of people 7 was the defining moment in the series, but 3/6 will always hold a higher place in my heart.

4) Civilization 2/3/4
I count them all as the same game because I never really felt there was a gap between me playing them. I played 2 consistently until 3 came out and kept trucking - same with 4 - and so every new version felt more like an expansion. I'd bring my tower over to my friends house and we'd play co-op over lan, and then eventually co-op in different houses over vent. Endlessly. I'll never see as many sunrises at my desk as I did while playing Civilization. I never really took it to the next level or played competitively, though, so my interest in it has sort of waned over the years.

3) Counter-Strike 1.6/Source.
Don't know what to say that hasn't been said already - THE definitive PC multiplayer shooter in my university years. Many a late paper and missed class was the result of wanting to stay and play CS with my friends - a tight knit group of 4-5 guys who had too much free time on our hands and a penchant for chain-smoking indoors. We were good, but never that good - we liked to think of ourselves as an anti-clan, since we never did anything formal. While we don't play online much together anymore (And when we do, it's almost always TF2), our "clan name" - [My Little Pwny] - remains. Ironic puns are fun.

2) World of Warcraft
January 2005 - March 2006, August 2006 - November 2006.
My dark mistress, who I had to quit not once, but twice. Possibly the best game ever, but also the most addictive game I've ever even come CLOSE to playing. If it isn't the topic my girlfriend and I used to argue the most about, it was definitely up there. Raiding 2-3 times a week, refusing social outings to play, thinking about it from the moment I got up until the moment I went to bed, no game has ever taken control of my life so completely. I admire those who can play casually, and I tried to do that again, but just wound up unfulfilled - grinding out rep for epics, farming texts endlessly in Silithus, etc. just never had the same appeal and satisfaction of pushing the envelope through raiding. After getting caught up in a hardcore raiding guild, (and never being available enough for them) the game was just never the same after.

1) Oblivion
Even though I've logged more hard hours into WoW, Oblivion is still my number 1 because of how it, as a single player game, absorbed me and impresses me even to this day. I'd estimate that between playing the game, the expansion, researching and testing performance, researching, downloading, and playing mods, I've maybe put 300-400 hours into the game. And I still never came even close to fully exploring the world.
Possibly the thing that I loved the most about Oblivion was the fact that (6 months to a year after release) for almost every single thing that bothered you or you disliked about the game (outside of the core gameplay), there was a mod to change it. The customizability was unparalleled. The developers game carte-blanche to create your own gameplay experience, and some of the results were outstanding. Hated the ugly faces? Mod. Hated the scaling monsters? Mod. Hated the lockpicking game? You get my drift.
Add to that essentially unlimited free expansions through user modules and the value proposition of this game was insane. Of course, for those who don't like western "create your own character" RPG's, the basic gameplay was just a non-starter; but since I loved "mental modding" and had been doing it for years (Gold box DND RPG's like Curse of the Azure Bonds), Oblivion represented the pinnacle of the genre.

Can't wait for Fallout 3.

After thinking about this, I realized my list is skewed towards one publisher... while I'm not 100% about the order, it would probably be:

5) Civ2 - "Just one more turn, then I'll go to bed"
4) Diablo - played through this game a ridiculous number of times
3) Heroes of Might and Magic II - hotseat with friends. Although like monopoly, very few games got finished...
2) Diablo II - Blizzard has taken much of my life
1) WoW - The only game I've played, as my main game, for more than about a month - must be almost a year now. I've played this game more than any I can remember, despite having much less time to game in. I'm just glad this wasn't around when I was in high school, or who knows how much time I'd have lost to it!

It's a interesting list topic... I can think of quite a few games that were more creative, or more enthralling, or simply more fun than some of these, but these are the ones that have taken the most hours of my life...

edit - rephrasing

5) Doom 2

The first game that gave me a terrible, unslakeable thirst for gaming. Even though I finished every episode of Wolf 3D on Death Incarnate with the knife (excluding bosses of course), I could always put it down after a few levels and come back to it later. The first time I played Doom 2 on my 486 DX2/66 I did not stop until I had made it to Hell (Monster Condo if I remember correctly). I can still take you on a level-by-level tour of that damn game, and have finished it so many times that the Icon of Sin and I have become old friends, like Holmes & Moriarty in their retirement years. It also introduced co-operative gaming to me, a blessing I will carry in my hellbound heart forever.

4) Ultima 6

My friend lent this to me when it first came out (after he had completed it of course). Needless to say, I left through the moongate and didn't come back until I had ripped through the entire series (Aklabeth included). I poured a lot of time into Garriott's creation...

3) Worms

I can remember getting a demo of Worms off a magazine back in '95. It came with two pre-generated levels with a 15 minute time-limit. Me and three friends spent the next day & night with that demo, marvelling at the fast and furious facelift Scorched Earth had received.
I went on to buy the game and lose whole weekends to it, generating giant tournaments that would come down to possession of the last clod of landscape after the level had been pounded for 10 timeless rounds.

2) Diablo 2

I lost three solid, consecutive months of 16-hour days to this game. I'm not lying.

1) World of Warcraft

I hate that this game is here. I wish it was something cool and indie, something nice and obscure that would make people think I'm really some sort of gaming bohemian who disdains the mainstream and rides on the fringes of acceptability. But that would be lying. I am Blizzard's Jezebel. I will keep coming back until I am a barren wasteland of a man, sucked dry by that ravenous maw of creativity that crushes your soul and hardens the heart of all those you hold dear.