Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On classifying games

When you hear about a game for the first time, you want to know what it's like. When you have a bunch of games, you want to categorize them in some way. My idea when I first started this journal is that entries would only be tagged with the name of the game and the system it is for. Then I got to thinking that just in case the readership of this expands beyond, say, half a dozen, I might want to have another way to group all the games I've talked about. This is so that if someone reads about a game and is interested in it, they can click on the category label of that game and see all the games of that type.

I decided to call this genre and even started a link list for them on the right side of the page. I'm not sure genre is the right word ( is down at the moment, so I can't analyze its meaning) but that's what a ton of the professional game sites call it, so I'll leave it at that. At first, I wanted to have very simple options for genre, something along the lines of Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, and Strategy. That immediately began to feel off when I put both Soul Blazer and Fear Effect 2 in the same genre. I didn't quite want to put Soul Blazer in the Role-Playing genre because I pictured Role-Playing as being games that didn't focus on reflexes. I didn't want to put Fear Effect 2 in the action category because the game involves quite a bit of non-action-oriented puzzles.

Remembering that gametz had quite a few genres in which to list a game, I checked out their list and culled what I think will be a pretty comprehensive list of what I use. It isn't perfect - I still don't have a great idea of where Grand Theft Auto 3 falls, but I think they'll do for now. Here they are with comments for what falls into them:

  • Action - This will be a catch-all category for any game that relies on reflexes and doesn't fall into another category. Examples: classic arcade games like Joust or Donkey Kong, Ninja Gaiden (the NES one, anyway), Katamari Damacy

  • Action/Adventure - A game relying on reflexes but that involves a significant amount of puzzle-solving and/or item manipulation. Examples: Zelda, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

  • Action/RPG - A game relying on reflexes where your character has statistics such as strength, magic, hit points, etc. These should increase after killing a certain number of foes and after wielding better weapons or wearing better armor. Examples: Secret of Mana, X-Men Legends

  • Adventure - A game involving puzzle solving and item manipulation that doesn't rely on fast reflexes. Examples: Space Quest, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst

  • Beat'emup - Since I don't want the Action genre to be too huge, I chose a few (mainly 8 and 16 bit) sub-genres to break it down into. A beat 'em up is a game where your character has various moves such as punches and kicks and takes on bad guys that come at him. These games are generally on a 2D plane and the bad guys generally take more than one hit. This category will also often include hack 'n slash games (though those will sometimes be in the Action-RPG category) where you have weapons and the view can be overhead or side-scrolling. Examples: Double Dragon, Final Fight, The Warriors

  • Board/Trivia - Any game that resembles a more traditional board game or a trivia game, even if some video game action is required. Examples: Monopoly, Mario Party, Wheel of Fortune

  • Fighting - A tournmanet fighting game. Examples: Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur

  • First Person Shooter - A game that takes place from the character's perspective and has you attacking things directly in front of you. Note that games that involve a slightly 3rd-person or over-the-shoulder view could also fall into this category. Examples: Doom, Halo

  • Flight - Often a first person shooter in the air. Enemies come at you, you move up, down, left, and right and the view is generally from the cockpit, though occasionally from behind the plane. Examples: After Burner, Top Gun, Wing Commander

  • Interactive Movie - A game where the action pretty much plays out in front of you, but you can take actions to make the story branch or change it somewhat. Examples: Dragon's Lair, Night Trap

  • Platform - An action game where moving around the environment is just as important, if not more so, than defeating enemies. Examples: Super Mario Bros., Bionic Commando, Donkey Kong 64

  • Puzzle - A game where you try to fit things together, create combos, or otherwise use your brain to think about where things are on the screen. Examples: Tetris, Puyo Pop, Boxxle

  • Racing - A game where you try to be the fastest one to get to a certain goal. Examples: R.C. Pro-Am, Super Mario Kart, Gran Turismo

  • Rhythm/Reflex - A game where you have to press buttons in time to the patterns or music on the screen. Examples: Parappa the Rapper, Amplitude, Guitar Hero

  • Role-Playing - A game where your character(s) has statistics such as strength, intelligence, hit points, etc. These increase after killing a certain number of foes and after wielding better weapons or wearing better armor. These games do no rely heavily on a player's reflexes. Examples: Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior

  • Shmup - An action game on a 2D plane where you are usually in a ship of some sort shooting at enemies that come at you while the screen automatically scrolls. Called "shmup" as an abbreviation for "shoot 'em up". Do proto-shmup games like Galaga and Centipede fall in this category? I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Examples: Gradius, 1942, Ikaruga

  • Simulation - A game meant to simulate some real world process such as business, city management, or farm life. Examples: SimCity, Railroad Tycoon, Harvest Moon

  • Sports - A game based on a sporting competition. Examples: Madden NFL 07, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Mutant League Hockey

  • Strategy - A game where you manage resources and make decisions, typically in order to win battles or take over the world. Examples: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Advance Wars

  • Strategy/RPG - A strategy game, as above, but that also involves characters with statistics that can be upgraded by leveling, and equipping new weapons and armor and also typically involves more story. Examples: Shining Force, Disgaea

You may also have noticed that I am trying to include links with each game I mention. These will typically be broken links, but if, at some time in the future, I write a post about a certain game these old posts will automatically link to it. Whee!

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