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A Definitive List of Gaming Genres? 119

Posted by Cliff
from the captain-of-categories dept.
An anonymous reader puts forth this challenge for the Slashdot readership: "Construct a definitive list of game genres for PC and/or console that doesn't dribble off into silly categories like 'licensed movie franchise,' or include redundancies like 'action', '3D adventure' and 'platformer.' My friend and I have been messing around with this for awhile, trying to do a better job than the game news sites, but we're finding it's harder than we thought."
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A Definitive List of Gaming Genres?

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  • by BlahMatt (931052) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:30PM (#16055856)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_and_video_ga me_genres [wikipedia.org]

    It's a good place to start. If you can think of more, you can always add them.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Serious Games [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kahanamoku (470295)
      As suggested by my parent poster, the genre list is easiest taken from the menu on the wiki article. However as requested by the OP to remove the redundant items, you can almost narrow the list down to 2.

      Role Playing; and
      Simulations

      Look through the list, think of a game that fits the category, and I guarantee you can fit it into one of the two genres above.

      Action FPS: Ghost Recon = War Simulation, Quake = Role Playing
      Adult/Action-Adventure: Leisure Suit Larry = Role Playing
      RTS: Any RTS you are practically G
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by skam240 (789197)
        yes but using two big generic catagories like that doesnt tell you anything about the games that fall under them. putting both quake and baulder's gate (two radicaly different games) into the same catagory of role playing is kind of silly.

        plus (just to nit-pick), an rts is most deffinitly not a role playing game as you are simply not playing a role (except in a few exceptions where it's part of the story you are in fact not god in an rts). your position in most rts games is far too abstract to discribe it a
        • In RTS games, its assumed the player is the 'Commander' of said troops. Obviously few games go out of their way to make note of this (the most well known RTS series that included the player as an 'actual' character was the Command and Conquer series which actually acknowledged and talked to the player at times.)

          On the extreme side, you can say that the troops are talking to you when they say "Your orders?", "Ready, sir." or "Commander?"

          • by skam240 (789197)
            the point of an rts isnt really to play a role. you don't select the "you move over there and shoot that guy in the face" text option when you want to tell one of your soldiers to attack another unit. you left click on the guy and then right click on its target and off your unit goes. that's what i mean about an rts being too abstract to call an rpg.

            with your looser use of the term literaly almost any game could be called an rpg. at that point you would have only one catagory of game, which would be silly.
            • And the vast majority of role playing games aren't really role playing. I realized a number of years ago that the reason I liked D&D was because of the statistical analysis of the battles. Pretending I was a street acrobat or a pirate and going "Arrrrrrrr arrrrr!" was not exactly a draw for me. The only "role playing" I ever did in this (or MMORPGs) was the Ogre in Everquest -- and the old-school, old-model ogre at that. The new one that looks like a giant, thickish human is an uncreative, talentles
        • I'll definately admit, my culling of genres down to a mere 2 is extreme, but it just illustrates the difficulty in trying to narrow down redundant entries, when the examples given in the OP can also be considered not redundant. You either have not enough or too many and everyone will have an opinion on where the middle-ground is.
        • by sendot (1001041)
          I completely agree with this. Technically speaking you could catagorize any game into a "Simulator" because that's what games are in some aspect or another, depending on the game. Categorizing games however, are supposed to describe games for what they are. Personally, this is the my favourite list of categories, but I may be missing some: Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Role-Playing Game(RPG) First Person Shooter (FPS) Adventure Fighter Racer Simulators (Real-life, piloting, etc.) Possibly others...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hal2814 (725639)
        Role Playing is a simulation. You're simulating social interactions. You're typically doing this in some sort of fantastical setting but it's still very much a simulation. I'd even argue that an RPG is more of a simulation than a type of game that doesn't fit well in either catergory: the puzzle game. Tetris for example could tehnically be a simulation but what exactly is it simulating? What do online logic problems simulate for that matter?
        • by Khuffie (818093)
          Tetris for example could tehnically be a simulation but what exactly is it simulating? What do online logic problems simulate for that matter? How to best utilize storage space in your car!
      • by pdr77 (748376)
        So BattleChess is classed as which? Nibbles? Frozen Bubble?
      • by sgt scrub (869860)
        Or to narrow the list further:

        Has cheat codes = Role Playing game because of God mode.
        Does not have cheat codes = Movie.
    • ...I wouldn't rely too much on this list. Not to descredit the entire article--most of it is pretty reliable--but there are questionable entries on that list. Even the article itself notes, "Due to a general lack of commonly agreed-upon genres or criteria for the definition of genres, classification of games are not always consistent or systematic and sometimes outright arbitrary between sources." That certainly seems the case for "Maze game", a genre noted in Chris Crawford's The Art of Computer Games but
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Repton (60818)

      Interesting that the Wikipedia artile misses out "roguelike"..

      • Quite frankly, I prefer games that are "rougelike", like City of Heroes, where you can put on strappy high heels, slide the waist slider to thin, the booty slider to JLo, and go have a good time sliding your big metal phallic symbol into bad guys.
    • I was curious... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Atario (673917)
      ...so I looked up their entry for The Sentinel [wikipedia.org], which I find uncategorizable. They called it "Puzzle". Hm. I don't think it fits.
  • :S (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:35PM (#16055888) Journal
    I don't understand this;

    "or include redundancies like 'action', '3D adventure' and 'platformer."

    how are these redundant and under what deffinition of redundant? The don't seem to contain useless words, nor are they no longer needed - because they refer to something specific and can be useful to know. Mario 64 was 3d adventure, New SMB was platformer. Action can be a little harder to define but I think people understand it when they hear it
    • by merreborn (853723)
      I thought Grim Fandango was 3d adventure, while Mario 64 was a 3d platformer?

      Honestly, I think trying to pigeon hole any form of media into precise genres is a lost cause. Sure, you can say "That's a race game", and "This is a sports game", but if you get much more specific than that, you're just wasting your time. Not everything fits into an existing genre. Nor are the existing genres well defined. And many things blur the lines between adjacent genres.

      This is something people usually get into with mus
    • by Rayonic (462789)
      Mario 64 was a 3d platformer.
      Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a 3d adventure.

      Though I prefer to divide up "adventures" into two sub-types. Action-adventures (Zelda) and Puzzle-adventures (Monkey Island). This is kind of an outgrowth of PC vs. Console definitions of what "Adventure" games were.
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:35PM (#16055889)
    1) Games I play
    2) Games I don't play

    And if you really want you can expand section 1) into:

    1.1) Games I enjoy playing
    1.2) Games I don't enjoy playing

    Although 1.2) should really be grouped in section 2) as:
    2.1) Games I didn't enjoy playing

    There .. that wasn't too hard.
  • by zhobson (22730) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:38PM (#16055907) Homepage
    Using multiple descriptive tags for each game might make the problem easier.

    For example, a game can be a "platformer" and an "adventure" game. It might even be in "3D". So perhaps "3D platformer adventure" works as a set of tags for a game rather than an atomic category.
    • by mqduck (232646)
      Using multiple descriptive tags for each game might make the problem easier.

      For example, a game can be a "platformer" and an "adventure" game. It might even be in "3D". So perhaps "3D platformer adventure" works as a set of tags for a game rather than an atomic category.


      In addition, we could use tags like "fud", "notfud", "dupe" for rip-offs and "thinkofthechildren" for GTA.
      • by OzPeter (195038)
        In addition, we could use tags like "fud", "notfud", "dupe" for rip-offs and "thinkofthechildren" for GTA.

        Are you sure you aren't defining tags for /. ?????
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:55PM (#16056012) Homepage Journal
      This is exactly what I was going to say. Tagging is the only way to handle this particular problem. Give up on a hierarchy, it just doesn't work, it doesn't catch border cases. Tagging does, which is why we like it. It's one of my favorite things about drupal, my CMS of choice (which I found out about from a previous ask slashdot, actually.)
    • by toleraen (831634)
      Agreed. This is similar to how I keep track of my movies. Keep the genre broad at the top (action, comedy, drama, like at a rental store), then get more specific (romantic, crime, thriller, etc).

      For games you could use something like simulation (sub-tagged with with flight, people management, sports, city building, etc), roleplaying (mmo, fantasy, sci-fi, slash and hack, etc), sports (football, golf, baseball, etc), mmog (fantasy, scifi, fps, etc), etc. Since certain subtags are genres of themselves h
  • Look at their list of games that previously were only in Japan - they span about ten different genres.

    Now add their new genres of Brain Games too.

    That will start you off.

    Luckily, you can play all of them on the Wii and the DS.
  • look to literature (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thelost (808451) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:44PM (#16055945) Journal
    it's said in literature there are really only a few stories and that they are retold over and over, take for instance Shakespeares Hamlet which actually wasn't his Hamlet but based on an earlier story ur-hamlet which itself was based on legends etc etc. It's also said that they are actually only a few types of identifiable characters in fiction, e.g. The Fool or The Knight &so on, I can't remember more. The idea is that when you get down to it all characters can be boiled down into this set.

    If you can disambiguate literature into its components there is no reason this cannot be applied to games. Games are another kind of story telling and so the same rule apply.
    • by acvh (120205)
      which explains why I feel like I've read all the good books.... at least all the good fiction.

      games as storytelling, however, I might disagree with. some games tell stories, some do not.

      game genres can be distilled into the following:

      sports
      shooting
      jumping
      thinking

      thank you, and have a nice day.
      • by shimage (954282)
        But what if a game has periods of jumping and shooting, separated by periods of thinking?
        • And lets not forget that Knights of the old Republic had shooting, thinking, AND sports, with some jumping thrown into the mix.
          • > And lets not forget that Knights of the old Republic
            > had shooting, thinking, AND sports, with some jumping thrown into the mix.

            Well, the guardian class could jump-attack with devastating effect on the first leap into battle (standard attack on distant foe if they haven't attacked you first) but that wasn't "jumping" in the puzzle-solving-game sense. In fact, I can't recall a single thing in either KotR game where you even could jump "over" something you couldn't also walk over. Not a single chasm
    • by Xymor (943922)
      I guess you could classify games with only one tag, but it would be extremely useless. In order to classify a game you need not only to classify its setting and story but also its gameplay and type of interation.

      Turn-based, Real-time Action;
      3D, 2D, 4D [ign.com](PS3 added a new dimension to gaming :D) ;
      Frist Person, 3rd person, Ortogonal;

      And those are only technical tags for the gameplay.
      • by thelost (808451)
        I would be wary of classifying a game based on graphics. A puzzle game whether it's 2D, 2.5D or 3D is still a puzzle game. From my perspective the content of the game, not it's presentation is the important factor.

        The essential question is whether people want definitive genres or want less accurate, more ambiguous ones.
    • by Omestes (471991)
      Once upon a time, a long long timw ago there were blocks... Many many blocks, of colors, falling. And well, the great king of Tetrisonia told you, his loyal minion, to... er... rotate them in two dimentions, since Tetrisonia is a suburb of Flatland, so that they form nice little rows, to asuage the kings OCD, and then, and only then will they conveniently disapear thanks to the help of the Dwarves of Makeing Blocks Disapear and Such. But, beware young adventurer, if the blocks reach the oh-so-close heav
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrHanky (141717)
      It's true that you can reduce storytelling to combinations of a few abstract categories, but neither literature nor games are all about stories. That's why literary fiction traditionally is seen as three main genres: the dramatic, the lyric and the epic. Game genres don't correspond well to these, as you don't really have anything like lyrical or epic gaming. And while you can consider many games dramatic, they don't correspond to the main dramatic genres of comedy and tragedy. Besides, only games that incl
  • by Kesch (943326)
    Shooter (Title is a little misleading, sword slashing would fall in here as well)
    RPG
    Adventure
    2D platformer
    3D platformer
    Fighter
    Flyer (Spaceships and submarines count too.)
    MMO (MUDs would probably fit in here too)
    Strategy
    Sports (Many sub-catagories)
    Rythm (DDR, Guitar Hero)
    Casual/Puzzle (Bejewled, Tetris)
    Racing

    Genre-defying (Katamri, The Incredible Machine)

    There, I think that almost any game wil fit into one of those catagories. Many games should also only fit nicely into one category. Though there are excepti
    • Incredible Machine (Score:3, Informative)

      by SIGFPE (97527)
      Actually, Incredible Machine is probably the prototypical example of a 'construction game'. This is basically the genre of game where the player is given a kit of parts and they're free to build stuff with it - often with some goal in mind. Lego might fit this category if it were a video game. I wish there were more examples of this genre, there are only a handful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      But what goes into RPG? I'd suggest three types:

      American-style RPG (defined by the ability to create your own character):
      Morrowind, Oblivion, old Might and Magic, Wizardry and Ultima games. Fallout. Perhaps KOTOR, but that's kind of a hybrid.

      Japanese-style RPG (having to choose a character created for you by the developer):
      Final Fantasy, Sudeki, etc. Despite being American, "Quest for Glory" is a Japanese-style RPG by this definition.

      Dungeon Digger (Choose a character created for you; no, or few puzzle
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I think by 'character' you mean background, but even that doesn't fit. Your background in Morrowind/Oblivion was told to you. You were a prisoner. THe details may be lacking, but that's your background.

        Unless you mean that you get to choose race/class/profession, and then you have to move most Final Fantasy games to the American side.

        Instead, define them like:

        Japanese RPG: Focus on plot.
        American RPG: Focus on action.

        Oh hey, now the 'dungeon diggers' also fit under American. Surprise surprise.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          Why the hostile tone?

          The first thing you do in Morrowind and Oblivion is create a character from scratch. You choose the race, you choose the class, the skills, the sex, everything. Ditto Wizardry games, but with an entire party. Ditto the other games I mentioned.

          In a Japanese-style game, like Chrono Trigger, you've given a character whose appearance you can't change, whose name you (often) can't change, whose set of skills you usually can't change, except for maybe selecting some skills over others. Wh
          • by Chemical (49694)
            Regarding character development in Final Fantasy, it depends on the Final Fantasy game.

            For example, in Final Fantasy IV, your characters were static and you couldn't do much more than change their equipment.
            In Final Fantasy V, you couldn't select your characters, but you could develop them however you wanted, choosing any job/skill you desired.
            Final Fantasy VII had characters with few distinct features. All characters could be equipped with all skills/magic.
            Final Fantasy VIII had a system unlike anythi

          • by Eivind (15695)
            Depends. In Final Fantasy X, there are two grids, one "beginner" where each character is indeed pretty much pre-determined to be a specific type of character, and one "advanced" where you're free to choose.

            The looks, name and the starting stats are given, but using this grid you *are* free to choose what skills which character learns. It's not totally freeform because there are two skills which are pre-configured to be for a certain character (for story purposes), but other than that you're free to let

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Aladrin (926209)
            Hostile tone? Not on purpose.

            And I stand by my categories. Japanese games tend to focus on the plot, and American games tend to focus on the action. Of course they both contain both, but I disagree that they are equal measures.

            You 'Chrono trigger got monotonous in the middle' example is even a point for me. An American game has plot so that there's a reason for the action. The plot tends to be on the boring, shallow side while the action tends to be constant and exciting. A Japanese game tends to have
            • by Blakey Rat (99501)
              Here's a tip: I've never heard the phrase "surprise, surprise" uttered by somebody who wasn't a condescending prick. If you're not trying for hostility, you might want to avoid that one.

              Anyway. The difference is that Japanese-style games give you a pre-made plot, where American-style games are more into letting you create your own story as you progress. That doesn't mean that Japanese-style games have *more* plot, that just means that the plot they do have is less reliant on imagination, and more reliant
              • by Aladrin (926209)
                "Here's a tip: I've never heard the phrase "surprise, surprise" uttered by somebody who wasn't a condescending prick. If you're not trying for hostility, you might want to avoid that one."

                You need to get out more, then. There's plenty of 'non-prick' people that use that statement. It's called sarcasm, in case you hadn't figured that out yet. And you think I suddenly turned nasty, maybe you shouldn't call someone a 'condescending prick'.

                I totally disagree with your Oblivion bit, too. Oblivion was a great
                • by Blakey Rat (99501)
                  I get the sense that you kind of missed the point in Oblivion, and presumably Morrowind as well. But that's all I'm going to say; I've devoted enough words to this already.
                • by LWATCDR (28044)
                  "There's plenty of 'non-prick' people that use that statement. It's called sarcasm, in case you hadn't figured that out yet."
                  Hate to say it but sarcasm and being condescending kind of go hand in hand much of the time. Also what most people seem to forget is on message boards no one can hear the tone of your voice or body language.

                  That being said I am remembered of a bit of wisdom.
                  Only a fool takes offence when none is intended. And it is a bigger fool that takes offence when it is intended.

                  Or in other words
      • Diablo isn't like Dungeon Seige, which is a Sim game. Diablo is Nethack with pretty graphics, done in realtime.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          ... so is Dungeon Siege. I honestly don't get how Dungeon Siege would be in a different category than Diablo. Can you go into more detail, please?
    • by ereshiere (945922)
      What about life simulations? SimCity, Sims, Spore, etc. Is GTA really, "at its heart," a shooter? Games with a giant 3D world with missions instead of levels should be their own genre.
  • by miyako (632510) <miyako.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:50PM (#16055991) Homepage Journal
    It's impossible to come up with a single definitive set of categories, because there are different ways to divide up games.
    To try to answer your question though, here is how I generally break down games. It is by no means efficient nor without redudency, but it is how I mentally categorize games.
    • Japanese and Eastern Style Console RPGs
      • That focus on exploration
      • that focus on story
      • that focus on skills/collecting
    • Western Style RPGs
      • MMOs
      • Try try to emulate D&D
    • Fighting Games
      • old school/buttonmashers
      • Strategic
      • Combo Based
    • Platform Games
      • Where you use guns
      • Where you jump on enemiesheads
      • Where you push blocks around
    • Sports Games
      • That are like Madden, *2K\d, etc.
      • Tony Hawk, etc.
    • Strategy Games
      • That rely on quick micromanagement
      • That rely on a lot of planning
    • First Person Shooters
      • that focus on teams
      • That focus on twitch movements
    • Brawlers/Beat-em-up
      • that are RPG-ish
      • ThatarePlatformer-ish
    • Casual Games
      • Card Games
      • Word Games
      • Board Games
      • Match/Line Up groups of things(tetris,bejeweled, etc.)
      • Reflext/Twich games
      • Misc.

    Anway, that is a much bigger list than most gaming publications use, but the top categories are largely the same. I think that this sort of system works because it basically tells you what the core sort of game play is. In your example, you lumped action adventure, adventure, FPS, etc. together, but I don't think that's fair at all. For example, I love action adventure games (i.e. zelda, metroid, etc.) but I hate first person shooters. The two styles of games play differently. I find the categories useful because I have been playing games for a long time, and I know what sorts of games I do and do not enjoy. I know that if a game sounds interesting, but I find out it's a FPS, then I can completely disregard reading anything else about it. Likewise, if a game is a western style RPG, I know that I should scrutinize it a bit more before making a decision, because while I haven't disliked every western style RPG that I've played, in general I don't find them as fun to play (I would rather have a very well done and highly linnear game, ala Final Fantasy, than a poorly done limited sandbox game that pretends like you can do anything. If I'm going to play D&D I'll play the real thing thank you very much.)
    • by LainTouko (926420)
      'Misc.' shouldn't really be under 'Casual Games', since something you haven't thought of or didn't consider worth classifying is not guaranteed to be casual. Especially since visual novels and simulations are going under 'misc' there.
      • The inclusion of a "misc" category implies by default that your method for categorisation of games does not cover every possible categorisation of game...

        I like Wikipedias list of categories.
      • by miyako (632510)
        fair enough. Sims are definiately not casual games, and I would probably put visual novels under the RPG category. There are also edutainment games, which may or may not be casual, and rail/lightgun shooters (which, sadly, you don't see much anymore, I hope to see a resurgance of those types of games on the Wii) The reason I put misc. on there is because there are a lot of casual sorts of games that don't really fit into any genre, or transcend a lot of genres.
    • ...like Second Life?

      There's no particular end to achieve, yet it is play and it uses a computer. It's *like* a simulation, in that it does *simulate* reality (or a form of it), but it is open-ended, unlike, say, SimCity, which is a closed-end simulation.

      Other than that, this is a pretty comprehensive list.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:51PM (#16055997)
    In philosophy this is called "reification." It's taking something complex and living, and turning it into a dead thing on a shelf. This usually involves chopping off inconvenient bits until you can stuff it into a box and label the box.
      Morals are the reification of a particular society's living system of values, codified and placed on a pedestal marked "unquestionable and unchanging." Unions are a reification of the working man's desire for a better life, transformed into a bureacratic comittee that defines what 'better' is for him.

      Instead of defining genres of video games, try breaking them up. Take them out of the box of dead things and try to find the oddball nuances that make a given game unique, and apart from any others.
      - mantar
  • Ok, so that may be an exaggeration, but I think the point remains valid: there isn't much point in coming up with genres.

    Mark J. P. Wolf in Medium of the Video Game [utexas.edu] list a bunch of genres that are fairly useless such as listing demos as their own genre.

    While I'm not a fan of applying film theory to videogames, I think that Rick Altman in Film/Genre [bfi.org.uk] makes the most interesting use of genre by syntax and semantics. (Actually, there isn't a lot of need to read the entire book. He lays out syntax and se
  • 1) Nethack.
    2) Not Nethack.

    It's impossible to master either.
  • like:
    1. Fantasy (D&D, Runequest)
    2. Sci-Fi (Traveller, Shadowrun, Licensed TV/Movie Show X)
    3. Super-Heroes (HERO, Mutants & Masterminds, Blood of Heroes)
    4. Horror (Call of Cthulhu, Beyond the Supernatural)
    5. Thematic (Feng Shui, Deadlands, Paranoia)
    I'm sure I could have broken that last one down into Hong Kong Action, Wild West, and Sci-Fi Comedy Dystopia, but there's only so much time in the day...
  • I have observed that many of the things I like are hard to classify in terms of things that were created before. On the other hand, many of the things that bore me can easily be classified.

    What might this mean? Perhaps the difficulty of classifying existing games into genres is a good indicator of the state of the game industry.

    It might be an interesting exercise not to list existing genres, but to make a list of games that are hard to classify, and use it as a benchmark against any genre list.

    To be

    • These games can both be classified by the genres in the Wikipedia article on game genres.

      Scorched Earth is a 2.4 - Artillery game

      Magic Carpet could technically be classified into several - it should, because of it's complexity in terms of content, be classified as 1.1 - Action (it is an action game - but most games are). It can also be classified as a Flight Sim, but then, many flight sims contain action and vice-versa, action games can simulate flight (which Magic Carpet does, if unconventionally).

      As game
      • by j1m+5n0w (749199)
        I suppose it's true that any game X could be classified in the genre of "games that are like X", but in the case of Scorched Earth there aren't very many similar games, so it's about as close to being its own genre as any I can think of. Lemmings also comes to mind. Magic carpet is somewhat the opposite, in that it fits into a lot of genres that don't usually fit together: action/flight sim/strategy/god game, and in the end it doesn't "feel" quite like any of those, at least to me.

        The wikipedia article

        • It all goes back to the value of categorisation in the first place - how useful is it to classify games anyway?

          Tags are definately a better idea. There are no absolutes.

          You can tag Scorched Earth as Artillery, Turn Based Strategy, Multiplayer, etc
          You can tag Magic Carpet as all those genres at the same time, it all works. You pick out every game that's tagged flight sim and you'll get Magic Carpet, but you'll still get it if you go looking for action games too.
          • by j1m+5n0w (749199)
            Tags are definately a better idea. There are no absolutes.
            I agree with you there - genres aren't mutually exclusive. (I suppose heirarchical classification schemes are a relic of libraries; a book can't be in two places at once, after all.)
    • It might be an interesting exercise not to list existing genres, but to make a list of games that are hard to classify, and use it as a benchmark against any genre list.

      David Crane's original Ghostbusters [wikipedia.org] doesn't easily fit a template. Whether that invalidates a set of genres or is the exception that proves them however...
  • Is there a reason why this subject has popped up just when they are about to announce the beta of Savage 2 [s2games.com]?
  • This would be a first step in my mind. Its a BS genre invented to give credibility to a style of game that is likely funded by those guys who make wrist braces for CTL. Just because you add a sword or a magic spell or any kind of mathematical character development to a game doesn't make it a roleplaying game, and trying to pass of a hack n slash click fest as having "Roleplaying elements" is bullshit.

    What makes a roleplaying game a roleplaying game isn't the system its built on, but what occurs in the game
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Back in the 80s, we called these games "Dungeon Diggers." Sometime before Diablo was released, the term "Action RPG" came about to describe them. I liked "Dungeon Digger" better, even though it's kind of a stupid term.
      • by crossmr (957846)
        The first place I noticed it was Diablo. Then slowly certain mags and reviewers started referring to these games as "RPGS" without the qualifier on the front. A linear game that a bot programmed by a 6 year old could run through doesn't remotely qualify as an RPG.
        • by SirSlud (67381)
          As a games programmer, it'd be equally easy to create a bot for any game, given the 'rules' .. action, rpg, FPS, strategy, or whatever.

          I think what you were trying to say is, "I like RPGS", not "I consider action games as easier to beat when a 6 year old programmer friend of mine constructs a bot for it and screw the world for lumping RPGs into the action genre."

          All games are easy fodder for bots if game supports them. If you think RPGs are 'deeper' than action games, well, then its time to argue about what
          • by crossmr (957846)
            A real RPG involves more than running around hacking and slashing which any bot can do. Real RPGs often have indepth NPC interaction that a bot couldn't really accomplish (as it couldn't interpret the choices properly, without exceedingly extensive programming) You're confusing combat with overall gameplay, the exact problem of action RPGs.
  • 1: Games I have
    0: Games I don't have
    • This isn't right - what if there is a game that, perhaps not on your person, but in your house? Or, a game that you purchase with a friend, and play the game half the time at your house, and half the time at his? Or what if you just borrow a game and have it in your house? What if it's in your locker at work, where the locker is technically yours but owned by the company? How about if you hire-purchase a game?

      Have you read the EULA for World of Warcraft? I would not be surprised if that game said you're
  • you will fail (Score:3, Informative)

    by fish waffle (179067) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:20PM (#16056900)
    There is no such thing as a definitive list. Genre is fluid, and incorporates feedback; as soon as you think of a genre someone else has thought of how to combine and/or distort that genre to create a new genre.

    I offer you the following theorem:

    Any genre-based categorization of computer games will either be too generic or too specific to be useful.

    Same thing applies to movies, books, etc.
    • Fun
    • Not fun

    Of course, if you're of the more discerning adult crowd who is PS3-bound, this list would look more like:

    • Mature
    • Not mature

    (It's a joke)

  • Rather than trying to pigeonhole all games into one category or another, I usually try to think of them in terms of a two- or three-dimensional continuum. One axis represents the importance of strategy, tactics, forethought, and the like, another represents the importance of speed, timing, reflexes, and so on, and a third represents the complexity or learning curve. If you really want to hurt your brain, you could add a fourth to represent the importance of atmosphere and writing.
  • and this list will be great for what, another half a year? until the next pikmin or trauma center or something comes out? there's no good way to do genre lists, at least not if you want them to last for... a period of time.
  • What's wrong with the mobygames [mobygames.com] category listing?
    • Er, it's woefully inadequate?

      Where would you put Space Invaders that differentiates it from Quake? They both seem to fall into "Action".
  • ...the definitive list of music genres ...the definitive list of video genres ...the definitive list of book genres ...the definitive list of p0rn genres

    I'm sorry but it doesn't work. Try reading any album reivew that goes like "draws inspiration from 60s [bar-music], but with rythm taken from the 90s [foo-music], with a local color of [region]. What about mixed games and games that have several game modes (e.g. strategy game with RTS fighting? Or an app with Japanese anime-style graphics but Western-style
  • My Genres? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by *BBC*PipTigger (160189) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @06:00AM (#16058134) Journal

    So I scratched the surface on this question last week on my blog:

    PipForPresident.Org/blog [pipforpresident.org]

    the gist of which is:

    "I dream of helping to enable everyone in the world to create and play their own video games together."

    so... I want to eventually write (or contribute to) tools that enable people to reconstruct or derive any possible game... assisting with:

    • fighting genre:
      • has good presets for minimal-latency head-to-head online setups
      • the most complex library of input patterns to click into place (i.e., visually associative system for connecting high-order input events to game-specific functions)
      • templates for playable character rosters with knowledge about likely associations with functional systems like back-end tunable data and the cosmetic front-end of profile data, portraits, voice audio, costumes, endings, etc.
      • knowledge of minutia in the formula of character pre-round, post-round, post-match, etc. introductions and taunts
      • supports selecting the nuanced behavior of 2-D power-bars, super-meters, victory icon placements, etc. as options
      • adapts the general AI mental-model into a fighting mindset
      • maybe specialized child modules for 2-D vs. 3-D conventions
      • etc.
    • puzzle genre:
      • has good presets for minimal-latency head-to-head online setups and also more casual rooms with lots of participants or observers
      • general systems for 2-D basins (optionally rectangular or hexagonal) catching falling pieces (like Tetris, Lumines, and Bejeweled)
      • options for known line/block effects, clearing, and scoring systems
      • easy level creation tools for any requiring designer setup (like Arkanoid or Frozen Bubble)
      • etc.
    • FPS (First-Person Shooter) genre:
      • assume 3-D for everything but the HUD (Heads-Up Display is the whole set of 2-D images which overlay any 3-D action)
      • small database for enemy unit hierarchy, behavior, and upgrades data with both spreadsheet-like and graph-like editable data views
      • small database for weapon behavior and upgrades data with both spreadsheet-like and graph-like editable data views
      • preset gravities, jump and run impulses, and explosion concussions
      • teleporter/portal mechanisms
      • team-oriented objective specification
      • during-play database to track kills/deaths/suicides/flags/headshots/movement/mar ksmanship/etc.
      • maybe network model optimized for dedicated server connectivity
      • etc.
    • shooter (Shmups [shmups.com]) genre:
      • beefs up sprite system to handle millions of bullet trajectories, collisions, etc.
      • describes wave and boss formulas
      • has options for known special-shot/power-up/defensive variations
      • interactive flight-path editor to easily add new movements to enemy ships or bullets
      • maybe has general cooperative or competitive multi-player models
      • etc.
    • RTS (Real-Time Strategy) genre:
      • editable technology-tree systems of building and unit build-order dependencies
      • huge database for unit hierarchy, behavior, and upgrades data with both spreadsheet-like and graph-like editable data views
      • adapts the general AI mental-model to optimized path-finding and simple threat/promotion prioritization systems up through heuristics to game-wide complex strategic analysis potential
      • etc.
    • RPG (Role-Playing Game) genre:
      • basically the same stuff as the RTS genre but with more attention given to the depth
  • Not possible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xtieburn (906792) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @07:14AM (#16058273)
    We had to do this as part of a module on my degree course. It was fairly futile then, its still futile now.

    Unlike what a lot of people have been saying I do think genres are important, they immediately allow you to narrow down what game you really want to play. However, arbitrary naming is fine. As long as you understand the terms being used people can divide the games up how they wish. Its simply not possible to have a definitive list.

    The reason for this is that games are defined by too many things. E.g. FPS is a name that describes a viewpoint and an action. RTS is a name that describes the games timing and an entirely different action.

    Whats more they can be crossed back and forth. There is no reason why an FPS can not be strategic and real time making it an RTS as well. (Not the most obvious example. For that youd have to look at role play which has permeated every genre out there.)

    I.e. you have viewpoint, game timing, actions, setting and the constant mixing of all of them. (Most FPS can be TPS, Dungeon Keeper was top down RTS and FPS, etc, etc)

    Add to this the dozens of odd ball games and the thousands of retro games that require a genre set all for themselves and you have an impossible task on your hands.
    • viewpoint, game timing, actions, setting and the constant mixing of all of them

      Or indeed complexity, storyline, atmoshphere etc... all of which apply to, let's be honest, any creative medium, to some degree or other. Okay, maybe static media like photography, sculpture etc are not so time-driven, but all of these things merely describe the different aspects of the way we use creative media to describe the world - whether the real world or an imagined one.

      Film, books, music, computer games, theatre - all

  • There is no definitive list, but I've always liked the way SPOnG [spong.com] does it. Split off point of view and dimensionality and then use a structured list of genres and apply up to three per title.

    You can see their genre list on their search page [spong.com] as well as their POV and dimensionality lists.
  • An academic work "The Medium of the Video Game" edited by Mark J.P. has a discussion of genres, though I don't know how useful it would be as most of the examples used are outdated.
  • by skorch (906936) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#16059166)
    Games incorporate so many different elements that it is difficult to come up with hard categories that can encompass all the known games without significant exceptions, overlaps, or omissions. I think what gives games so much power and potential is their natural resistance to such pigeonholing and ability to fluidly and organically incorporate so many different elements.

    So I think using a series of tags that can be freely applied where necessary can help describe and generalize games without trying to nail the outliers and hybrids and unique games into categories they don't necessarily belong. I would say it is best to apply the series of tags in a standardized order, where a game can incorporate multiple tags from their different categories if applicable: e.g. it isn't necessary to add "real time" to a game with the "1st person" and "shooter" categories since that is generally implied. However you would have to add "turn based" to such a game if necessary since that is generally not typical of 1st person shooters. The tags should be (and generally are) applied in roughly the following order:

    Narrative style (if applicable):
    Linear
    Branching
    Sandbox (open ended?)

    Setting:
    Sci Fi
    Fantasy
    Historical
    Modern
    Sports

    Dimensions/Perspective:
    3D
    2D (sidescroller, static, etc.)
    1st person
    3rd person (implying camera anchored to player's avatar)
    "god" (or "bird's eye," implying camera free roaming over a map)
    Text based

    Gameplay Progression (can be implied by gameplay type):
    Real Time
    Turn Based

    Avatar(s):
    Solo
    Team (a.k.a. squad, or party-based)
    Army

    Gameplay Element(s):
    Shooter
    Brawler
    Racer
    Tournament fighter
    Puzzle
    Strategy
    Tactics
    RPG (or some other form of character ability progression)
    Sim
    Exploration
    Beat-matching

    Obviously the Gameplay Elements category has the most descriptors and is still the least complete of all the categories, but you get the idea. By taking and applying all the necessary elements above to any game you can think of you can generally paint a fairly clear picture of what type of game it is relative to other games that may be similar or different. Not all the tags are necessary, and in most cases are left off because they're either obvious or implied, but for the sake of completeness in archival purposes they can help distinguish subtle differences between very similar but fundamentally different games. The "Avatars" category is one I've never actually seen applied to any games, but I think it's useful in describing some fundamental differences between games that have the player using a single character or pawn, as opposed to commanding multiple characters or entire squads/armies in various types of games.

    For example, Baldurs Gate would fall under Fantasy, Branching, 3rd person, real time, party-based, RPG. Whereas NeverWinter Nights I would generally categorize as Fantasy, Branching, 3rd person, real-time, solo, RPG when describing the single-player campaigns at least (although you could take on a henchman at times, this was not necessary to play through or complete the game, so I would count that as an optional tag). Final Fantasy, or other Japanese RPG's would generally fall under Fantasy, Linear, 3rd person, turn based, party-based, RPG. Oblivion would be Fantasy, Branching, 1st person, real time, solo, RPG. So here we have 4 very different games that would previously all be described simply as RPG's are now much more clearly fleshed out with this system.

    Multiplayer games are a whole other beast and in many cases should probably deserve their own list of categories to describe adequately. Splinter Cell's multiplayer consists of both 3rd person and 1st person perspectives, depending on which team you're playing on. A game which is designed as a solo campaign that can become a party-based campaign wh
  • by kinglink (195330) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @12:30PM (#16060089)
    Action | Adventure | Driving | Puzzle | Role-Playing | Simulation | Sports | Strategy

    And if you want Driving is a sport.

    Basically any game can fit into one of these genres, many will fit in two (an action role playing game. An driving Simulation)

    You can expand your genre list more and more but the fact is every time you have them all next year there's a new one that people are trying to make up. However it's not a "GTA" genre, at best it's a free roaming genre, but in reality it's an Action Adventure game.

    There's many sub genres that can tacked on underneath it all. The only problem with games with this simplistic approach is Niche games and stuff that defies convention, you will never be able to label those because the whole point of them is that they defy conventions like genres, that's why many places have Miscellaneous, as well as "compilation" which spans all genres (aka Activision Anthology)

    This is the best answer though because it's specific and precise. Most games will be one genre with a second as a sub genre (the Adventure game that has a lot of action and so on) but that's fine.

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