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#123153 - 06/14/03 08:29 AM Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Magician Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 735
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Just curious, but does anyone know of any widely (and possibly professionally) accepted definition of the various genre of games around? Namely, genres such as adventure, action, RPGs etc.

While game genres such as simulations are somewhat easily spotted and differentiated from the other games, the merging of the traditional traits of the other genres have now confounded me. This has led me to raise questions such as 'what makes a game an adventure game?' and 'have these definition shifted since say 5 years ago? If so, in what way?'.

If there is a widely/professionally accepted definition, then I'd gladly welcome it to clear up and end the various arguments between myself and various gaming friends about the true genre of certain games wink

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#123154 - 06/14/03 12:18 PM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 35469
Loc: southeast USA
The best general definition is by the nature of the puzzles.

There is an article at Adventure Collective which discusses what makes an adventure game.
http://www.adventurecollective.com/features/feature-idealadventure-1.htm

There's an article on adventure game puzzles here
http://www.scottkim.com/thinkinggames/GDC00/bates.html

But is there any "professionally" accepted definition? Not if you believe advertisers.

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#123155 - 06/14/03 05:37 PM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Advpuzlov Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 06/05/99
Posts: 2027
Loc: USA
JENNY100, thank you so much for those citations. The 3-part article in the first citation was superb! I thought the treatment and conclusions were on the money! I have put the article in "My Favorites" file for future reference. The only part I thought was too lightly covered was at the end of the 3rd part and was on "interface." The panel that wrote the artcle should be congratulated. A very fine job indeed!

The second citation on "Game Design" was also interesting. I agreed with most of what Bob Bates had to say about the topic. One paragraph particularly struck me and I quote it below:
Quote:
Steering the Player This brings us to responding to player inputs that don't actually solve puzzles. You should constantly be steering the player toward the right answers to the puzzles by providing little (or big) clues in the responses you make to his inputs.
Responses should contain little nuggets of information, so that the longer a player sticks to it and the more things he tries, the more knowledge he accumulates about what might work. You should help him circle in on the solution, never being entirely obvious, but providing enough bits of data that eventually a critical mass will be reached and he will realize what he is supposed to do, all without feeling he has cheated by going off and looking for a hint.
Both articles you cited are well worth reading by all GameBoomers. Thank you again, JENNY100.
_________________________
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -- Aristotle

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#123156 - 06/14/03 06:11 PM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Magician Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 735
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Yup - I agree... the first link really helps differentiating the differences that lie between Action, RPG, and Adventure, and hence my understanding of what adventure games are really about (and probably lies more in my argument's favour than my friend's argument *grin*)...

I wonder if the game developers (not the marketing dept of the company) have their own definition somewhere... hrmn...

Is it:
1) the developers that define the genres,
2) the marketers that define the genres, or
3) the players that define the genres

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#123157 - 06/14/03 11:54 PM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
I agree with the Adventure Collective article that background story and plot are essential to the adventure genre. However, although adventure games may have unusually complex plots (The Longest Journey, for example), other genres have also made good use of story and plot, so these are not unique to adventure games. And some of the best known adventure games are rather light on plot (Myst, for example -- assuming you haven't read the books). Are there any FPS's that have inspired books, I wonder?

What really seems to identify adventure games are the nature of the challenges. The majority of the challenges in adventure games force the player to use wits rather than reflexes. Although some adventure games have a smattering of reflex challenges, these are not the meat of the interactivity in the game, nor are they particularly difficult when compared to hard core action game challenges.

I would say from my limited experience with other genres that certain adventure games contain far more scripted dialogue than other genres. I'm assuming that this springs from the adventure genre's emphasis on character and story.

In general, adventure games encourage exploration rather than complicating it. When you walk through a newly discovered door, it is a reward rather than a chance to meet yet another hidden enemy who attacks without warning.

I know this is a stretch, but I would also say that adventure games tend to dig deeper into the world of art and culture. I suppose that other genres could base their stories on operas or ancient myths or exotic historical locations or classic literature. I wouldn't expect this to be as common in, say, arcade games -- though I admit there are lots of strategy games that explore historical cultures. Still, how many of those actually contain in-game encyclopedias? (Maybe I should drop that last argument -- a genre shouldn't be defined by its tendency to include encyclopedias. Oh well.)

In adventure games, when there is a threat, it is communicated to the player through the atmosphere or through the plot -- not through random physical violence.

Quote:
The essence of adventure gaming is its gameplay. It is the ability to dynamically interact in a meaningful and immersing way with the game world that differentiates itself from the passive experience of reading a book or watching a movie.
I disagree here. I think that dynamically interacting with the gameworld differentiates gaming in general from the experience of reading a book or watching a movie.

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#123158 - 06/15/03 12:09 AM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Quote:
Is it:
1) the developers that define the genres,
2) the marketers that define the genres, or
3) the players that define the genres
Would it be cheating to say all the above?

Aren't we players partially defining it right here just by discussing it? Don't we help define it by the games we buy and the games we talk about? Or is this just a tiny whisper within the giant shout created by people who actually create and publish the games?

I would imagine that the marketers have the least to do with defining genres because I suspect they have little intimate contact with the games. They just sell them, they don't make them or play them. Well, of course some marketers play games but I don't think it's essential in order to do the job. The marketer's concern is strictly to identify a game's genre in a way that will create the most sales.

The designers I would think have the greatest influence. They have a certain audience in mind when they design the games. If they want to keep selling adventure games, they should know a lot about the expectations, likes and dislikes of adventure gamers. Of course they want adventure gamers to grow to enjoy new and slightly different challenges with each new game. Still, I would think that they would want to keep the games identifiable as adventures or risk losing the audience altogether.

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#123159 - 06/15/03 01:02 AM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Magician Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 735
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Becky, I dimly recall seeing novels written about the world of Doom... Blizzard entertainment have now also released books on their RPGs, Diablo and Warcraft worlds... although I can't comment on their popularity compared to the Myst series.

As for whether or not marketers are responsible for defining a genre, I actually had a different perception. For starters, I believe we've all seen cases where stores have incorrectly categorised a game in a different genre. Secondly, there are a few cases where I thought a particular game (as advertised by the development company) to be a particular genre - and when I played it, it turned out to be a rather different genre... I must admit I am not sure if this is the result of a honest error/mistake, or if this was a ploy by the marketers to fool the public into buying a game and thus raise revenue. Lastly, I've seen some games where it's advertised as a mixed genre - but I believe differently - so I often wonder if it's because my interpretations of a genre is incorrect, or if it's incorrect marketing as outlined in the previous point??

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#123160 - 06/18/03 02:57 AM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Games have also been made into movies -- Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy. Wasn't Wing Commander made into a movie? I think this shows that non-adventure games have created compelling worlds that can be expanded on and enjoyed in different ways. This would lead to the argument that quality storytelling and compelling characterizations are not unique to adventure games. Still, a storyline is one thing that distinguishes an adventure game from a pure puzzle game, so it is important even if it isn't unique to the genre.

So how about this: an adventure game is a game with a storyline, with a substantial world to explore at a leisurely pace, and with challenges that emphasize using wits rather than reflexes.

As for the marketing confusion -- I just went on Amazon and they have Grand Theft Auto: Vice City categorized as an adventure game and as an action game and as an RPG. This looks to me like defining a game's genre so generously that the definition has no meaning. I'm not sure who does the defining though, Amazon or the publisher or the developer. And I'm not sure how many gamers really are fooled -- especially in an online store where you can easily read reviews about each game.

As a marketer, do I really want to falsely market my game to people who will soon figure out that I've misrepresented it? This is only going to work once, and then such people won't trust me again.

Or, alternatively you could make the argument that in today's crazed marketing environment where marketers are lucky to get the customer's attention for more than a second, just putting the product in front of the customer more than once is a benefit. Classifying your game in several different genres may be the sneaky, cheap equivalent of buying a lot of shelf space.

Still, I think it's more likely that inaccurate marketing is more because of ignorance of the product rather than overreaching greed. I guess seeing games categorized wrongly by genre is what makes me think that the marketing people can't be playing them.

This is a bit off-topic, but I am frequently amazed by how often people who develop adventure games don't actually play adventures. I've read interview after interview with adventure game developers who are asked what games they like to play. Frequently they mention action games. Just as frequently they say that they played games back in say, 1994, but since working as a developer they don't have time to play anymore. This strikes me as odd. Is it possible that genre confusion has something to do with being so focused on creating a game that you lose sight of everything else?

On the other hand, I have no idea how much influence developers have over marketing -- there's a sterotype of the small developer being overwhelmed by the large, impersonal publisher, but I don't know how common that is.

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#123161 - 06/18/03 03:17 AM Re: Gaming industries' agreed definition of gaming genres?
Magician Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 735
Loc: Sydney, Australia
also slightly off-topic, I find it rather odd that the movie Final Fantasy had NOTHING to do with any of the games whatsoever...

I know every FF game out there have a completely different focus/plot, but they've all shared a common theme of it being a fantasy/magic based world, as well as creatures such as chocobos and stuff. But the movie was based in the future, with technology as the main focus (and no signs of magic)... very odd.

Anyways, back on the topic of genre classification *grin*... You brought up a very good point:

"...As a marketer, do I really want to falsely market my game to people who will soon figure out that I've misrepresented it? This is only going to work once, and then such people won't trust me again..."

This is quite valid, but then who would have the authority to say false advertising was used? Many newer/younger gamers and the non-hardcore gamers are likely to believe whatever the publisher/store assistant tell them (after all, the info comes from an "official" source). I find, especially when talking to the younger gamers, that their view of genres (particularly the adventure genre) seem to differ significantly from mine. For these people, it's the marketers/publishers/store assistants who got it right, and it's we who got it wrong. However, reading through this thread, and also from the URL provided by Jenny100, it's clear my own interpretation is valid in gameboomers, but many people I speak to don't agree with it. To them, there's no adventure games per se - only action games.

Anyways, this topic has dragged out a lot longer than I thought... I didn't mean to take up so much of your time, Becky - but I really appreciated your inputs in this. I was merely curious if my interpretation of adventure is still valid or not, or if I needed to update my brain's vocabulary, that's all wink

Thanks again *hugs*

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