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TechnoGoth

Are genres a blessing or a curse?

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Have genres destroyed diversity in video games? Does the fact that there are such clearly defined genres mean the creativity and innovation must be restricted so that final product fits with the player expectations, of what that kind of game is supposed to be like?

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Simple answer: NO

A genre is a type of game, but it doesnt ruin the game market. take FPS, its basicly just BANG BANG BANG, but there is also a story line. and many games combine genres to get a new genre.

ok this may sound a bit of a short way... but imaging this: there are no genres so people develop freely. what problem do you get? that there are shooters, RPG, action, strategy and other kinds of well known games. developer simply make what we like, or what has proven that is liked. the genre is not responsible for whats in the game, its the devs.

my best bet is that a genre is just a incredibly short description of the kind of game. to see if you like it, you just have to look there first, and then on the rest of the box.

last thing: genres have proven that they are liked. of course, people will be making that kind of genre most. But still new ideas are tried. most time they fail however, because players dont like then. the few that succeed get predecessors and guess what? they fit into a genre soon

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Personally I would consider genres a curse. While I see nothing wrong in grouping games into separate categories, the whole thing seems to work backwards. You shouldn't start with a genre and end up with a game, but vice versa.

Besides, every game simulates some (virtual) world. In every game the player has a role (of at least some sort of force acting upon the world). In every game (which is not based on pure luck) you have a strategy. In most games your character shoots things up. Still, not all games are called simulators, role-playing games, or strategy games. You simply can't have a categorisation that everybody agrees on, because different people consider the different aspects of the game. You may consider the preceding issue pedantry, but I still consider Diablo an rpg, maybe even more than something like Neverwinter Nights.

The problem is that it is so easy to start your game design with something like "I'm gonna make an rpg/rts/fps/...!". Please don't do this! The whole point is to categorise the game after it has been done, not before. A game (from a designer's point of view) is a realisation of a dream. Dreams do not fit in rigid uniform boxes. When you forcefully decide to make the game adhering to a certain genre, you change the game. It is no longer the dream. And who cares what the genre is if the game is great? Now, for the person who buys the game the genre information can be helpful, but it should not affect the design of the game.

Why is it done then? No one dares to be different, because the cookie cutter games sell better. Not because they are better or because people like them, but because people are used to them. (Ok, now I'm just being plain mean and cynical, but personally I'm tired of seeing the same games again and again with more and more silly ideas; in the later C&C games you didn't even have a normal tank or a soldier, they all had to have some special functionality). While Red Falcon suggests that new ideas are tried even within genres, this is often something very minimal. Ok, so in the new rts I can build buildings out of tetris blocks. The units can build new vehicles out of debris. I can grow new life forms out of goo. Big deal, who cares, been there, done that, etc. I still can't walk through forests, a house is still smaller than a soldier and a sniper can only fire twenty meters away. The changes are usually always in-genre, either bringing some unnecessary exotic details or reforming the user interface. And the storyline is irrelevant as long as we consider genres. Of course the storyline differs, as we are talking about different games, but the genre is still the same! The storyline is different, but the gameplay the same. Now as a conclusion to this paragraph I would like to apologise to Red Falcon, if he considers this heated commentary flaming, because that was not the intent.

The worst thing is that many good game types have degenerated something slightly resembling something of the few fashionable genres (fps, rpg, rts, what have you). Populous and Populous 2 were excellent games with (provisionally) true indirect control (as you could only control the environment, which you did directly), while Populous 3 was so sickeningly much like C&C; now you controlled the people directly and the environment indirectly (through the shaman). Argh! Similar argument can be had with the Settlers series, unfortunately. Personally I would consider the economy management of the original Settlers far superior than that of most modern rtss.

I'm not saying that genres should be banished, but rather that it should be a frame of reference, not a model for new games. As for the original question, the creativity and innovation should not be restricted. If the game doesn't fit into any current genre specifically, then so be it. As long as the game is good, I (and probably most gamers) don't care.

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Have genres destroyed diversity in video games? Does the fact that there are such clearly defined genres mean the creativity and innovation must be restricted so that final product fits with the player expectations, of what that kind of game is supposed to be like?

Genres are just a categorization system and a way of organizing games. It's true that some genres work better than others, but you can hardly call that formulaic. In other words, this is like asking "have titles that contain the letter 'r' ruined diversity in video games?" The diversity comes from the games themselves, not whatever category they fit most neatly into.

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We have genres in books and TV and even paintings, I don't see how games could get away from the model if they wanted to. In a lot of cases, genres are mainly definitions of what works and what doesn't. For instance, if there was an RPG where the combat was like a FPS (which there may very well be), I wouldn't like sticking FPS elements in it because I have crappy reflexes. A FPS fan, on the other hand, would likely hate having to wander around talking to various NPC's to progress in the game. That doesn't mean no one should ever make that kind of game though...sure it's probably not financially sound, but if we make games solely for how much money we can get out of them, we're little better than a scantily-clad woman standing on a street corner.

I think the key is, don't combine elements of various genres specifically to combine elements of various genres. Do it because you think that kind of game would be cool and fit together. Don't just paste on an FPS interface because you want something different, do it because it's integral to the game you want to make. It's like writing a story...why talk about what Uncle Joe ate for breakfast unless it's important to the overall picture somehow?

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I think that during development, a game's genre develops from what you design it as. I wouldn't necessarily say "I want to make an RPG" right off the bat, but I might say "I want my gameplay to be turn based combat with an immursive world and strong character development." Now what other category is this going to fit into? Is it logical to do a turn based FPS? A turn based Tournament Fighter? A turn based platformer? A turn based flight sim? It just becomes an RPG in most cases.

Same goes for an FPS. "I want my game to be in first person perspective, and I want to shoot things in it." Yes that makes it an FPS, but only by default. Genres are just labels, it's the design that forces a game's identity. Do whatever you want to do in a game and people will still classify it in some way. Stop thinking in terms of genres, they don't matter.

As ever,
***Cosmic***

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Like most people, I enjoy certain types of games more than others, and classifying them according to a set of rules helps me find new games that I like in a store.

If I wanted to buy a new CRPG and had a choice of two stores with identical stock, but one sorted them by genre and the other alphabetically, I'd go to the first because I don't want to be forced to read the back of every box to find what I want.

Even if the developer doesn't categorise their game, stores, magazines and players will.

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