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The Escapist Staff | 20 Jan 2011 18:00
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As part of our ongoing interest in understanding what makes games work, The Escapist Staff debated exactly what it is that classifies a game into genres. The result of those discussions is our Genre Wheel which provides a map for the basic elements of all games and it guides our analysis on almost a daily basis.

Introducing The Escapist's Genre Wheel

By Russ Pitts and Steve Butts

What's in a genre?

Here at The Escapist, we've gone around and around on the subject of genre classifications. Sure, they can often be an arbitrary label applied to a piece of art simply for the sake of knowing what shelf to put it on at the store, and, as such, kind of demeaning. We like to think that games are more than the sum of their parts, and therefore, to a large extent, hard to classify. Some of our favorite games can be considered a mélange of different classic game genres combined in such a way as to create a holistic experience that rises above its genre classification. In fact, some of our older favorites seem to have been created without any particular genre in mind at all.

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And yet, when it comes right down to it, our brand of games journalism is largely aimed at helping you decide how to spend your hard-earned money. Our approach to reviews is, after all, not based on some self-indulgent "games are art" philosophy; it's based on helping you decide what to buy. Although we do believe games are art, we also know they're expensive and that having some experience of playing the game before you buy it (even if that experience is gleaned vicariously through our review) is a good thing.

Viewed in that light, genre classifications can be a useful tool. Sure they may be a label, but sometimes labels are a good thing. Without a label, a jar of water looks very similar to a jar of bleach. Knowing the difference is pretty important. If genre classifications help you get your head around what a game may bring to the table before you plop your money down and are stuck with it, then they're a good thing. Period.

Read more from Russ Pitts introducing The Escapist Genre Wheel

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