12 Games That Defined Their Genres

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I don't know if I'd call X-Com genre defining, because I've never seen any other game like it. That may just be a lack of exposure on my part, though.

I bought X-Com on steam about a year ago and I love it. It can be very frustrating sometimes but I love it.

no listing for starcontrol 2?
image
for shame

although I suppose its one of the games thats pretty much stand alone since really there isnt much else out there like it

Out of curiosity, does anyone know what the first third person shooter game was? Or at least the genre definer.

I wanted to see some Master Of Orion 1 or 2 on the list for space conquest games, but I guess Civilization covers that style of game.

Greg Tito:

MintyNinja:
I was honestly expecting Grand Theft Auto to be on this list. Don't know what to think now that it's not there. meh.

We specifically only wanted to highlight specific genres in our genre wheel. While Grand Theft Auto 3 was definitely a game that spawned many imitators, it is a mixture of different genres like driving, brawler, shooter and RPG. Open world or sandbox games aren't a genre but more of a quality that some games have.

Thanks for pointing that out, I never really considered it an amalgamation of other genres before but it makes sense. Where is this Genre Wheel? It's probably something I should see after all these years.

BlindMessiah94:
A pretty rounded and diverse list, and I understand most of the choices even if I don't agree with them....

but seriously, Guitar Hero? I hardly think it "defined a genre" simply by being a music game. Just because it spewed a bunch of clones like Singstar doesn't make it a definitive game. Almost every other game you listed created a great foundation in which designers have used as a foundation to make some awesome games within the genre. Granted there are a lot of clones. For every Deus Ex there are a hundred other generic FPS'. But what has Guitar Hero inspired besides essentially more drunken karoakesque games? Correct me if I'm wrong...

That's precisely it - Guitar Hero has spawned a now endless list of, as you call them, "drunken karaoke-esque games". You just happen to not like the genre, but Guitar Hero has done exactly what you were saying the other games did - "provide a foundation which designers have used to create a number of games within the genre". You clearly just happen to harbor some kind of resentment towards the music game genre, but that doesn't make Guitar Hero any less definitive.

Where was LoZ? I think LoZ defined adventure games as well =\

Not to get all fanboyish, but how can you cite PONG as the origin of sports games and not at least mention Odyssey Tennis, the game it was legally proven to have ripped off? I can understand overlooking, say, Tennis For Two, since nothing came of it, and I can even understand giving PONG the credit, since it is the one everyone played. I just feel like Ralph Baer deserves some love.

MintyNinja:

Greg Tito:

MintyNinja:
I was honestly expecting Grand Theft Auto to be on this list. Don't know what to think now that it's not there. meh.

We specifically only wanted to highlight specific genres in our genre wheel. While Grand Theft Auto 3 was definitely a game that spawned many imitators, it is a mixture of different genres like driving, brawler, shooter and RPG. Open world or sandbox games aren't a genre but more of a quality that some games have.

Thanks for pointing that out, I never really considered it an amalgamation of other genres before but it makes sense. Where is this Genre Wheel? It's probably something I should see after all these years.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_283/8400-Introducing-The-Escapists-Genre-Wheel i think it's this one.

oh, and what happened to the rtt genre? you know, commandos and such? is it dead now? i haven't seen anything like that recently...

morbidpixie:
Ahem... Wolfenstein 3D did it. Not Doom. Doom had the multiplayer, so you could say it was the start of FPS Multiplayer. But Wolfenstein 3D was the "put you inside a person's head".

Common misconception. ID's 'Catacomb 3D' came first.

Mookalakai:
Out of curiosity, does anyone know what the first third person shooter game was? Or at least the genre definer.

'Tomb Raider' perhaps.

albino boo:
I expected Elite to be in there. It was the first sandbox 3d space fighter/trader sim. Ok these days its a niche market but Eve is just elite online.

This is pretty much my first thought, space shooters = Elite. The fact that it is a nice market these days seems to be more about the gaming industry suffering from one of its periodic myopia phases with regard to anything which is not in their 'current market'.

SonicKoala:

BlindMessiah94:
A pretty rounded and diverse list, and I understand most of the choices even if I don't agree with them....

but seriously, Guitar Hero? I hardly think it "defined a genre" simply by being a music game. Just because it spewed a bunch of clones like Singstar doesn't make it a definitive game. Almost every other game you listed created a great foundation in which designers have used as a foundation to make some awesome games within the genre. Granted there are a lot of clones. For every Deus Ex there are a hundred other generic FPS'. But what has Guitar Hero inspired besides essentially more drunken karoakesque games? Correct me if I'm wrong...

That's precisely it - Guitar Hero has spawned a now endless list of, as you call them, "drunken karaoke-esque games". You just happen to not like the genre, but Guitar Hero has done exactly what you were saying the other games did - "provide a foundation which designers have used to create a number of games within the genre". You clearly just happen to harbor some kind of resentment towards the music game genre, but that doesn't make Guitar Hero any less definitive.

Fair enough, but my point was that for every generic clone there are at least a couple of great games that took that foundation and did something awesome with it - such as my example of Deus Ex. Only inspiring clones doesn't entitle a game to have it's own genre or to be "definitive" within it.

I actually don't hate Guitar Hero at all. You are quite presumptuous in that. I never once used those words. I quite enjoy the game actually, it's a ton of fun. How would you feel if I just simply assumed you are a fanboy based on your knee-jerk reaction, as you have clearly assumed I harbor hatred, simply because I have an opinion? Whether or not I like the game has nothing to do with why I don't think it's definitive.

In case I wasn't clear, all I stated was that I just don't think it's inspired anything but clones, whereas the other games in the list although having inspired clones, have also inspired unique games based on the foundation they laid. Name me one game that took the guitar hero foundation and did something cool and interesting based on the fundamental mechanics and engine. If you can I'll better understand why it was chosen. But if you can't, in my humble opinion, calling guitar hero a definitive game simply because it inspired clones and nothing else is a bit pre-emptive. Maybe it needs to be given a bit more time to allow people to experiment with it's base before it can be considered as such. It would be like calling Blades of Steel definitive for the hockey genre of video games, even though essentially all that's happened since then are to be expected graphics and control improvements as the hardware improves, and roster updates.

BlindMessiah94:

SonicKoala:

BlindMessiah94:
A pretty rounded and diverse list, and I understand most of the choices even if I don't agree with them....

but seriously, Guitar Hero? I hardly think it "defined a genre" simply by being a music game. Just because it spewed a bunch of clones like Singstar doesn't make it a definitive game. Almost every other game you listed created a great foundation in which designers have used as a foundation to make some awesome games within the genre. Granted there are a lot of clones. For every Deus Ex there are a hundred other generic FPS'. But what has Guitar Hero inspired besides essentially more drunken karoakesque games? Correct me if I'm wrong...

That's precisely it - Guitar Hero has spawned a now endless list of, as you call them, "drunken karaoke-esque games". You just happen to not like the genre, but Guitar Hero has done exactly what you were saying the other games did - "provide a foundation which designers have used to create a number of games within the genre". You clearly just happen to harbor some kind of resentment towards the music game genre, but that doesn't make Guitar Hero any less definitive.

Fair enough, but my point was that for every generic clone there are at least a couple of great games that took that foundation and did something awesome with it - such as my example of Deus Ex. Only inspiring clones doesn't entitle a game to have it's own genre or to be "definitive" within it.

I actually don't hate Guitar Hero at all. You are quite presumptuous in that. I never once used those words. I quite enjoy the game actually, it's a ton of fun. How would you feel if I just simply assumed you are a fanboy based on your knee-jerk reaction, as you have clearly assumed I harbor hatred, simply because I have an opinion? Whether or not I like the game has nothing to do with why I don't think it's definitive.

In case I wasn't clear, all I stated was that I just don't think it's inspired anything but clones, whereas the other games in the list although having inspired clones, have also inspired unique games based on the foundation they laid. Name me one game that took the guitar hero foundation and did something cool and interesting based on the fundamental mechanics and engine. If you can I'll better understand why it was chosen. But if you can't, in my humble opinion, calling guitar hero a definitive game simply because it inspired clones and nothing else is a bit pre-emptive. Maybe it needs to be given a bit more time to allow people to experiment with it's base before it can be considered as such. It would be like calling Blades of Steel definitive for the hockey genre of video games, even though essentially all that's happened since then are to be expected graphics and control improvements as the hardware improves, and roster updates.

What about the Rock Band series? I think that's a fantastic example of how the original creators of Guitar Hero took that formula and really expanded on it; new peripherals (the Drums as well as the microphone, not to mention the more comprehensive Bass guitar tracks), the unique solo sections in songs that could be played on the upper portion of the Guitar controller, the interesting career mode, the addition of online multiplayer, the individual instrument challenge modes, the various online competitions which are held on a weekly basis...I don't really understand how anybody could call a game like that a mere "clone" of the first Guitar Hero, which looks almost archaic in comparison to the Rock Band series.

And there's no need to get all defensive - referring to the games spawned by guitar hero as "drunken karoakesque games" doesn't exactly give the impression that you're a fan of the genre. My assumption was perfectly understandable.

I feel like this list is sorely lacking in Bubble-Bobble+Rainbow Islands.

For me, starcraft would define an RTS and Final fantasy for RPG, or perhaps homeward bound. Also Resident Evil 2 > Resident Evil

For many of us, that are a bit older in age, this article represents more that a wonderful read, full of nostalgia.

In my eyes it makes something very clear and apparent. Video games have evolved a lot in the years, along with the technology they use. Just as we have grown up, so have the games.

It also makes another thing apparent. Room for real, groundbreaking, norm defying innovation is very limited. It is only natural for something new to be full of innovations and for something that has been around for three decades to have less room to "invent the wheel". Technology as a whole is not that capable of inspiring us any more, since it is more and more becoming part of our everyday life. Just like video games.

Pong was magic. When playing SFII, your mind filled in the blanks. With the new technology, there is very little required for the mind to fill in when playing something like MGS4 or GTA IV.

SonicKoala:

-snippity-

What about the Rock Band series? I think that's a fantastic example of how the original creators of Guitar Hero took that formula and really expanded on it; new peripherals (the Drums as well as the microphone, not to mention the more comprehensive Bass guitar tracks), the unique solo sections in songs that could be played on the upper portion of the Guitar controller, the interesting career mode, the addition of online multiplayer, the individual instrument challenge modes, the various online competitions which are held on a weekly basis...I don't really understand how anybody could call a game like that a mere "clone" of the first Guitar Hero, which looks almost archaic in comparison to the Rock Band series.

And there's no need to get all defensive - referring to the games spawned by guitar hero as "drunken karoakesque games" doesn't exactly give the impression that you're a fan of the genre. My assumption was perfectly understandable.

Not being defensive, just trying to explain my post. I like how whenever someone makes a post, and then someone misunderstands them, and then the OP reiterates what he said, they are all of a sudden "being defensive". If I was being defensive I would just start being a dick and calling you names lol. It would be more "perfectly understandable" to assume that because I didn't go that route that I am not being defensive and actually trying to have a discussion.

Anyway,
Your Rock Band argument is interesting but I don't think I fully agree with it. I never found the campaign mode or online mode to be "expanding" on the formula. It was more or less just more motivation to play the game when you didn't have people over to play with. Many games tack on campaigns or online play for this reason.

The addition of instruments is interesting but it will start becoming annoying if they keep on adding instrument after instrument and just convolute the screen (didn't they recently add keyboards?). They can't keep doing that forever.

I do think the solo sections were a lot better in Rock Band though, I will give you that. Definitely an improvement on the formula.

I guess when I look at Rock Band though within it's "Guitar Hero music genre" as this article has so somewhat dubbed it, it doesn't stand out really as being all that different from the rest of the games that have followed. It's still essentially just a game with a few more controllers and songs. Although what it does do, it does do well.

I guess the question is what will the next few Guitar Hero or RB or Singstar game look like? How much further can these genres go? Will they just add on gimicky sells (Now with new Britney Spears Headset!!) and updated Song choices? Or will they do some really cool things with the interface they have perfected?

Maybe if this genre is given more time some really unique and interesting things will pop up. It has potential to stay the same or to spawn some cool ideas. Maybe a game where you play your guitar to cast spells in a dungeon as a minstrel or something. Who knows, I am not a game designer. I think the list was just pre-emptive in it's pick.

Your turn :D

John Funk:

morbidpixie:
Ahem... Wolfenstein 3D did it. Not Doom. Doom had the multiplayer, so you could say it was the start of FPS Multiplayer. But Wolfenstein 3D was the "put you inside a person's head".

We're differentiating from the first true one and the one that *defined* the genre. It's why we chose, say, Street Fighter 2 over Street fighter.

But wasn't Doom basically a slight expansion on Wolfenstein?
I personally don't see any huge difference in them, expecially not in the whole "inside the dudes head" thing, that was already done in Wolfenstein.

Although then again listing the first true ones which created the genres in the first place would probably be a hell of a lot boring.
Like putting down a bunch of very early games that noone has even heard of.

I miss Thief or System Shock, but great job anyways. X-Com is one of my favorites from the list, primarily because most of the other games spawned sequels which were indeed much better. The original X-Com was really unique, with a gameplay quality which Terror from the Deep already lacked. There's an open-source project called UFO: Alien Invasion which actually does hell of a job to recreate the atmosphere of the original game, but well, it's still in development stage.

Good list.

Missed the racers (F1 or Pole Position or something) and the flying games (Wing Commander, Red Baron) though.

FalseMemorySyndrome:
I agreed with Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark, though I thought including both was simply a way to avoid bickering.

Everything else I didn't really have a opinion about.

Personally I'd have taken RE off the list but I can understand this decision. I was on a school where everyone traded stories about Alone in the Dark. I only heard anything about RE when part 4 came around really. But I've since come to realize that was just my little bizarro corner of the world though.

I absolutely demand a Bitmap Brothers game to be on this list :) Any of the following would make me happy: Xenon, Xenon 2, Speedball 2 or Gods (on another note, I think Goldeneye deserves an honourable mention, but I understand that it can't supplant Doom). Merci buckets!

Good call on resident evil, but where is GTA?

Herzog Zwei i loved this game it was just a randem buy to

Herzog Zwei i loved this game it was just a randem buy to

Yes, yes, but what of sandbox trading games such as Elite and Pirates!?

BTW Turn based strategy does get better than Enemy Unknown, just ask Grunty...

I love all Roberta Williams games. I still own all the King's Quest and Quest for Glory games on the original floppies (both 5" and 3.5"). Whether or not they made an impact on anyone else, those games are what got me into computer gaming. Which also makes me feel kinda old...

As an extra point of contention to calling Guitar Hero the "defining" music game, the Escapist's reasoning is that Guitar Hero was the first to include the player in music playing. I find this laughable; rhythm games have been doing this since at least 1997 to my knowledge, (and perhaps 1996, sorry for my uninformedness regarding Parrappa the Rapper). Even Guitar Hero's immediate inspiration Guitar Freaks made the correct playing of the song dependent on its sound, and that dates back to 1998. A more correct reason to include Guitar Hero would be "it spawned the great Music Game bubble of 2007-2009."

On the more opinionated side of things, to put Guitar Hero over Dance Dance Revolution is like putting Halo over Doom. Doom and DDR took an established idea and made it accessible. Halo and Guitar Hero brought it forth to the great unwashed.

Was kinda expecting to see Everquest or maybe Ultima Online on the list.

Greg Tito:

MintyNinja:
I was honestly expecting Grand Theft Auto to be on this list. Don't know what to think now that it's not there. meh.

We specifically only wanted to highlight specific genres in our genre wheel. While Grand Theft Auto 3 was definitely a game that spawned many imitators, it is a mixture of different genres like driving, brawler, shooter and RPG. Open world or sandbox games aren't a genre but more of a quality that some games have.

Also, odds are that the Ultima-series would be the answer here too.

IBlackKiteI:

John Funk:

morbidpixie:
Ahem... Wolfenstein 3D did it. Not Doom. Doom had the multiplayer, so you could say it was the start of FPS Multiplayer. But Wolfenstein 3D was the "put you inside a person's head".

We're differentiating from the first true one and the one that *defined* the genre. It's why we chose, say, Street Fighter 2 over Street fighter.

But wasn't Doom basically a slight expansion on Wolfenstein?
I personally don't see any huge difference in them, expecially not in the whole "inside the dudes head" thing, that was already done in Wolfenstein.

Although then again listing the first true ones which created the genres in the first place would probably be a hell of a lot boring.
Like putting down a bunch of very early games that noone has even heard of.

I think that Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss came out right before Wolfenstein 3D and allowed you to look up and down. Personally, if you want to talk about shooters, then Wolfenstein is the way to go, but if you are talking about putting the player in the character's eyes, then Ultima Underworld beat id software to the punch.

I know that Ultima did not define the genre, but I just wanted to put a little love out there for Looking Glass.

First off, great list and article! After reading through some of the comments here, I would love to see the OP could do a follow up article to include a few more games for different genres that they missed. Games like Wing Commander defined space sims for a long time. Sandbox games are defined by GTA3 (not sure if I remember a game like GTA3 before it). And, while not a favorite of mine anymore, what about driving and flight sim games? I remember setting up a boom box around my computer and playing cassette tapes (to simulate the radio) to Test Drive way back in the day. Or Microsoft Flight Simulator.. well, that was pretty boring.. never mind :-)

Nostalgia =3

I think they missed one:
Shining Force

Shining force was an Adventure, TBS/RPG cross that defined the Fire Emblem type of play we see today. With a color cast of characters, it encouraged the player to not only get to know their teammates, but to venture out and find new ones. On my first playthough, I found that talking to npcs in hopes of picking up another character increased my understanding of the fictional world on a whole, and added a sense of gravity to the battles and events taking place.

All in all, it's a great game, here's some clips if you have had no Idea what I was talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1MCLMRKklQ

Is artillery something forgotten, or is it one of the smaller genres that you ignored?

As for everything else, I've pretty much only played SMB and Doom. I feel like a failure...

Also, wasn't Maze War the original FPS?

omicron1:

A couple of other genres might need defining: The scrolling shooter, the MMO (as differentiated from the RPG), the JRPG (which I see as completely different in design from Western RPGs), and the Action-Adventure game. (Which has become a pretty standard, unique, and easily-identified game type, despite being an amalgam of multiple other genres)

Eh, to be fair, those are all essentially sub-genres of the main ones on the list. MMOs and JRPGs especially, as both of those originally were heavily influenced by the Ultima games, and the games that it inspired. Scrolling shooter is just that, a shooter, though to be fair they aren't very comparable to "Doom", so I could kinda see that being it's own "full" genre, and as for action-adventure, well you said it yourself, it's a genre comprised of other genres, and it also got most of it's influence from RPGs and the like.

EDIT- only games on the list I've played are Resident Evil and X-Com, but I'm currently looking for a way to run Dune 2 on my system...then again, it's probably gonna be more trouble than it's worth. Eh, may as well stick to SC2, as it really looks like a modern version of it.

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