Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Video Games: Combining Genres and Genre is different than Theme

Video Games have become more and more complex over time, and considering how little time has passed, they got complex real quick. Sadly, with this complexity comes confusion from both developer and gamers alike, take genre for example. Unlike movies or books, genre in games has become a very confusing subject. When you can have games like ‘Portal’ that are classified as FPS (First Person Shooter) but are more like the Puzzle genre, knowing what that actual game will be like based off genre alone is near impossible.
One solution to this problem is to combine genres. Weather that be to simply classify and game as having two or more genres or taking aspects form different genres and combing them into one new genre. The problem with this however is that not all genres go well together. When a developer choses to make a game with two or more genres, making sure that the different aspects of the genres fit is just another obstacle to overcome. For example adding in puzzles to solve (Puzzle genre) to a Survival Horror game can help keep the player engaged in the game and alert. However allowing the player to defend themselves with weapons (Action Genre) in a Survival Horror game can lessen the ‘horror’ aspects of the game. Matching up different aspects of genres to make the game cohesive is a difficult task, especially if a developer is looking to make their game unique, as most genre combinations that go well have already been used. In this way, the combining of genres might not help lessen the confusion surrounding genres in video games and might just new meta-genres to mix and match, adding to the confusion. Just to note: this is all problems on the developer side of things. The gamer side of this problem seems to be sorting it’s self out. One good example is Steam Tags. Steam Tags allows players to tag the game with specific words and themes that relate to the game, making it easier for other players to find games that are relevant to their interests.
 A newer more player invented solution, is too divide a games genre into Themes and Genre. When people talk about a game with two or more genres you can often hear descriptions such as “It feels more like an Action game” or “Plays like an FPS” etc. This is players separating Genres (How the game plays) and Themes (What the game feels like) that relate to the game. Using an example, a game like Dead Space 3 feels like you’re playing an Action game (Theme) but it’s classified as a Horror game (Genre). Or a game like Portal feels like a Puzzle game (Theme). By describing games like this, might start to clear up the confusion surrounding genre in games. However this is just one possible solution and there may be better solutions in the future.       

Have a gander at Extra Credits view on Combining Genres
So, what does your favourite game genre say about you?

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