283: Introducing The Escapist's Genre Wheel

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Hmm I'm not so sure. It seems like a really nice idea but it seems like you have to make comprimises to make it work.

Like Music for example, does that really have any exploration in it? Don't a lot of RTS games have a strong element of exploration? And I'd say most racing games are more about conflict than exploration.

I really want to see a chart like this work, I just don't think you've nailed it just yet.

Hmm... This doesn't work great for me. I like things on the strategy end best, but I love music and driving games as well. Really I just can't play sports games, so I guess I like all games unless they're sports games. I think the main reason I don't like those is because nobody ever explains the god damn controls to me.

I've noticed it breaks down for extremely old games that seem to occupy the *center* of the chart.

Asteroids is *just* conflict. Monkey island is *just* exploration. Games this simple are rare today, but the point is that they can exist. Is suppose it's also possible to create a game featuring a strong emphasis on all four... though I can't think of one that can't be dismissed as an Action RPG with long-term tactical elements gussied up as strategic elements. Plants VS Zombies, perhaps, IF you count unlocking new seeds and game modes as "exploration."

A more interesting use of the chart is to think of it as a tool to design *better* games. We can readily imagine, for example, how to add more exploration elements into a game. (Make the game world bigger, add more obscure details to find, etc.)

A game developer could use the chart to not only classify the game they're developing, but to figure out which areas of gameplay have the most room for improvement. That's not to say a good game needs all 4 (or even more than two, if they're honed to perfection,) but it's one more way of polishing gameplay.

I really, really like that it only addresses gameplay. This could be the first step towards unlocking the science behind that elusive "fun factor."

Wonderful job on the chart. I think it not only helps define the general niche that a game fits into, but also may help explain why some games either amaze or frustrate the player due to having elements that fall outside the expected genre's niche.

For instance, the introduction of mini-games or action events inside RPG's was a cool new feature when it first came out because it added an element of action from the complete opposite side of the wheel into what was normally a purely strategic genre. However if it becomes a core element of the game, then it runs the risk of pissing off the player, because they wanted an RPG, not a skill/reaction based action game (what if I don't want to catch 50 frogs to advance the storyline?)

Couple of examples:
Final Fantasy as a franchise seems to be annoying more and more people because it's straying out of its niche. Newer games have had so damn much "exploration" forced onto the player that you can go ages without any "action". It has built in a lot of cool stuff, but in doing so has lost some of the appeal that some find in the genre.

My least favorite part of God of War was that goddamn climb up the tower of spikes to get out of Hell. Why? Because I liked it as an action adventure game, with the focus on combat and killing Minotaurs with my bare hands. The spike-tower climb was a pure platforming element like frogger, and it annoyed the shit out of me.

Successful deviations from niches include the "vehicle" quests in World of Warcraft, where you take a break from grinding for a quick segment and get to use your own skill and hand-eye coordination to target enemy hordes for destruction with a cannon, bombs from a balloon, or hurling yourself with a catapult, effectively adding action elements to an RPG.

A suggested "Third Axis" would be "social" - solo vs. community. There's been a lot of change in this in the last couple of decades. Final Fantasy I-X are solo RPG; WOW is community RPG. Gran Tourismo I-II were solo driving; Mario Kart was community driving.

You could also give a game different ratings - for instance Guitar Hero solo sucks, but Guitar Hero community can be pretty fun.

A better metaphore for genre might be forsaking a polarity model and favoring the salad bowl. Genre elements can be combined in many ways, even some that most wouldn't think could be mixed for a tasty solution (those wonderful "cross-genre" innovations). Is the basic foundation vegetable, fruit, meat, grain, etc? Just like how you've decided to refine things down to action, strategy, exploration, and conflict. But unlike the food of comparison, these elements are much more agreeable to mixing, so none of them are exclusive to one another.

What comprises the dominant flavor would be what to attribute as a game's primary genre and the supporting genre elements are what help to bring it out through support or contrast. Certainly a number of common mixes are bound to seem like a genre in themselves so finding those key genre flavors would be the most important thing to creating a structure and the sub-genre (essentially the outermost wheel of your model) would be most helpful in determining a most-likely market group.

It may even make it easier to know who a game appeals to most by figuring out the primary genre (most dominant elements) and who it might also appeal to due to secondary genres rather than relying on the current scheme of popular genre names.

I'm sure there's coherent thought lost somewhere in my rambling.

Basically, game genres need to have a more open genre system than movies, literature, and television currently rely on. The best way to go about that is to view genre as more than a two-dimensional model of exclusive elements.

It's easy enough to find examples of games that will cross genre lines or combine elements that are considered opposites. But when each element is evaluated as separated from the others, there aren't exceptions anymore but there are dominant and secondary elements which would define a 'most-likely' classification.

Very cool indeed. I find my tastes are truly all over the map. It's interesting to see the underlying subtext to each genre. It's also interesting to try and figure out what attracts me to games within those sub-textual revelations.

I really like the way it orients everything in an easy-to-follow way. I've even gone ahead and extended the background for use as my desktop wallpaper.

I have to wonder, though: where do party games fit in? Games like "Mario Party" and "Rayman: Raving Rabbids" don't quite seem to fit any of the genre labels you guys have up there currently.

Also, with regards to everyone's two-axis suggestion, I think that's being a little too nitpicky. It would help to see these genre labels as blending *slices*, rather than points. Individual games, then, can easily be plotted as a point within the wheel.

Twentydragon:

I have to wonder, though: where do party games fit in? Games like "Mario Party" and "Rayman: Raving Rabbids" don't quite seem to fit any of the genre labels you guys have up there currently.

Well, as far as I see it, they're Action/Conflict on the chart. Action - cause requires the constant use of reflexes, Conflict - pits you against equal (or almost equal) adversaries (in these cases - fellow humans).

[/quote]The Total War games all contain two radically different play modes, and therefore two different genres. They include RTT sections and Grand Strategy sections, but they don't mix them. Basically, they have bits that are one genre and bits that are another genre. No genre-classification system can deal with that. It's TW's fault, not the wheel's. Rome would go in SC and ASC.

This is a very nice classification system, but I'm unsure of its practical usefulness. Aside from the minor niggles that I've just mentioned, I think my problem is that it's entirely gameplay-focused. Video games these days are more than just games, and I think a classification system should reflect that. I'm not saying it can't work, just that I'd want to see it really put into practice before I'm sure it would.[/quote]

maybe a clasification of "total war" could be used. as the total war series are the most famous of them i think it would be fitting to name the genre after them.

also, who agrees we need desktop sized genre wheels?

Farlander:
Well, as far as I see it, [party games are] Action/Conflict on the chart. Action - cause requires the constant use of reflexes, Conflict - pits you against equal (or almost equal) adversaries (in these cases - fellow humans).

Ah, that makes sense. Guess there just wasn't room for four genres on the wedge. =)

radred:
also, who agrees we need desktop sized genre wheels?

Gotcha covered.
EDIT: Moved image; fixed link.

Very interesting. Two questions though:

Where exactly do pure quiz games lie on this wheel (such as the aged "You Don't Know Jack" series)?

What exactly is the difference between "Driving" and "Vehicle Simulation"?

OK, i concede to your point, but i still think that some RPGs, not all, but some should be near the center, as in oblivion, to go back to that example, if you can adapt to your crummy stats, you can easily do the same things as a higher level player, par se, you can hit from a very long distance, even at a low archery level if you simply adjust to arrow drop, and yes,damage is decided by stats, but how is that different than borderlands? or any other FPS that has stats

Also, to twentydragon, vehicle sims are where you say, virtually test drive a car, racig is like NFS or grand turismo

If it were me doing the genre wheel, it would probably look something like this:

Action/Conflict=Fighter/Shooter
Action/Exploration=Adventure
Action/Conflict/Exploration=Action/Adventure
Action/Strategy/Conflict=Sports/Racing
Action/Strategy/Exploration=Family/Music/Puzzles
Strategy/Conflict=Strategy War-Game
Strategy/Exploration=Simulation/Construction
Strategy/Conflict/Exploration=Role-Playing Game

where does desert bus fit?

its a game with no action, conflict, exploration or strategy...
but it IS a driving sim.

garjian:
where does desert bus fit?

its a game with no action, conflict, exploration or strategy...
but it IS a driving sim.

Action: The bus is drifting to the right. OH SHIT! BETTER STEER LEFT!

Conflict: This game sucks ass... but they're paying us to keep playing it...

Exploration: They want us to *what!?* That's a new one. Well, sure, we can give it a shot if that two hundred dollar donation comes in... just give me time to limber up, first... and... actually, make it $250 because we'll need to rent the llama and the fog machine.

Strategy: Are you kidding me? Pee first. Bring friends. Sleep in shifts. Ration your caffeine. Desert Bus is ALL about strategy!

WarpZone:

garjian:
where does desert bus fit?

its a game with no action, conflict, exploration or strategy...
but it IS a driving sim.

Action: The bus is drifting to the right. OH SHIT! BETTER STEER LEFT!

Conflict: This game sucks ass... but they're paying us to keep playing it...

Exploration: They want us to *what!?* That's a new one. Well, sure, we can give it a shot if that two hundred dollar donation comes in... just give me time to limber up, first... and... actually, make it $250 because we'll need to rent the llama and the fog machine.

Strategy: Are you kidding me? Pee first. Bring friends. Sleep in shifts. Ration your caffeine. Desert Bus is ALL about strategy!

heh, well if its all of them it still doesnt fit ;)

Does this idea of a chart to classify games comes in pair with Yahtzee's Extra punctuation "contest, challange and gratification" idea for rating games? Do you think it was discussed as a whole? Anyway, this is just a tool, it can't possibly cover all the videogames in this world. Definitions change over time, and label as "RPG" and "action/adventure" seems to be inadequate to definy a lot of games, recently. Finally it's not really useful by itself, since a review needs to elaborate on the game's content, but once you elaborate on it, you describe the game far better than by using the "tag" you place on its genre, thus making the creation of such a system a bit pointless. So, it's just something you have to put in front of the article to steer away people that wouldn't be interested in the genre, but this is already achieved by the "old" labels (of course, this is just my opinion).

In case I didn't make it clear previosly (I am sorry, I don't speak english very well), I think that both this system and the previous one are flawed, but get the job done either way (giving basic informations on what to expect in a game before even bothering to read a review), so I feel it isn't particularly useful.

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