Saturday, July 31st, 2021

Soapbox: the game type is broken


Nintendo Life

If your mom asks if you want to watch a romantic Mother’s Day drama with her, you will definitely look forward to it.Two silly appearances entwined two good-looking people mercilessly, separated due to some absurd social conventions, at least one Ridiculously A sexy scene in which a good-looking person falls into the lake or is shot. He must take off his top and finally get married.

Again, if your father asked to show a movie night of an 80s action movie, then you already know a lot of similar stories. Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone tried to break into an underground wrestling criminal gang run by the German Mafia in order to fight against Their daughter, wife and best friend were rescued from the plane crash. In the end, they all become robots!

However, if your brother asks you to play a first-person shooter game with him, all you know about the game is that it has guns, and the things that these guns point to may die. In addition, your face is the camera.

“Doom” is a first-person shooter game, but it is also a first-person shooter game

Of course, this is a bit unfairly oversimplified. Both the genre in the game and the movie can inform the audience what to expect from something. Without destroying too many elements of the plot, a genre can tell you what the point is, whether it is looking for love, killing bad guys or being chased by ghosts.

Movie genre tells you how feel(Such as “horror” or “thriller”) and other general settings, such as “western” and “historical”, or they tell you what the protagonist is going to do, such as “action” or “romance”.Due to its interactivity, the types of video games are mainly classified according to yours do Among them, such as “platform”, “role playing” and “shooting”. Of course, they are different from the description of books, movies and TV, because the main difference is that you are doing Actions in the game, so the mechanism is used as the main descriptor.

Hollow Knight is a textbook
Hollow Knight is a textbook “Metro”

However, in the decades that the video game industry has existed, these labels have proved inadequate.New tags have appeared, some of them are very much Stupid, like “metroidvania” and “roguelike”. The former refers to a game with a larger map, you can access it from the beginning, and you can unlock new areas during the development process. It comes from two games with similar systems, “Metroid” and “Castlevania”.What needs to be explained is: Metroid and Castlevania are both action-adventure games, but their way of doing things is so unique that it is enough to arouse people’s welcome A brand new label.

The latter is similar to a “rogue”: games that usually involve dungeons will climb through procedurally generated levels, making progress each time, but will restart once they die. This is based on the game”rogue“It was a game in 1980. It was a pioneer of robotics. We know what kind of rascals (and their bastards, rascals) are, because we have to understand what they are in order to figure out whether we like them.” Tell us anything and hope you have an understanding of the industry and its history.

The original Rogue, I think it was... roguelike?  ?  ?  ?
The original Rogue, I think it’s… roguelike? ? ? ?

I am a game reporter and I have to understand all these stupid portmanteaus in order to do my job correctly. But when I talk about my favorite games, I definitely don’t know how to describe them, because the dictionary of these game types has been stunted.For example: I like games like Slay The Spire with attacked cards…but I don’t like it Hearthstone. So, the single player deck builder? However, “Killing the Spire” is still a hooligan, and it may be a hooligan, so maybe it’s just the ones I like, even though I don’t really know Rogue Legacy, Spelunky or Dead Cells.So, maybe this is the strategic element of “Killing the Spire” that I like…except for things like Crusader King Civilization takes me out of pressure.

Oh, don’t worry.I realize what the problem is in the first world Can’t completely categorize the games I like. Wow! But let’s be honest: Has your brain ever been slightly melted by the phrase “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”? Have you ever wrinkled your nose at people who use “indie” to mean “cute games made by a small team,” even if the team has a publisher? And, honestly, do you hate the term “hygiene” to describe any game with dogs?

Mario Kart and Forza. The same type.
Mario Kart and Forza Motorsport. The same type. Picture: Nintendo Life)

You know, this is my point of view. Genre is considered a useful tool for categorizing games into boxes that are convenient for decision-making, and also for talking about games with other people. They are linguistic shortcuts, just like “car” means “metal box with wheels to speed up driving” and “shoes” means “walking fabric box to speed up driving”. Cars and shoes have many different shapes, colors and sizes, but we know what they are. If you need to differentiate further, we can introduce the appearance, purpose and even the brand: red satin ballet shoes or blue Toyota Corolla.

When the types are as confusing as in the game, especially when they rely on naming other In the game, it becomes a mixed reference network, and this information does not tell us much about the game itself. Imagine that you want to tell your friends that your shoes are “Converse shoes” or that your car is a “Peugeot Fiat” car, but in fact this is very little help in describing these things.

Stardew Valley is often called "agriculture" Game, one "Life simulation", "Indie game", Or "health".
Stardew Valley is often referred to as a “farming” game, “life simulation”, “independent” or “healthy” game.

The newer genre names (such as “independent” and “healthy”) exist to convey what some of the market has decided to like: for example, small personal games that are relaxed, gentle and gentle, or all are better than you will enter mainstream games .

However, after the “healthy” label, people strongly opposed Healthful games directly Was announced this week because not everyone Want to Their works are classified as labels that only suggest kindness and softness. Many creators, especially those under LGBTQ+, think this label is naive. Moralize,Or Will automatically assume that any work that contains marginalized and representative themes is “healthy”, Regardless of its content. Other creators are happy to be considered “healthy”, Partly because it can help their games get people’s attention with a genre label that attracts attention.

The “comprehensive” debate is just one example of how the genre can defeat both players and developers. Currently, the video game genre is a free market, and no one knows exactly how to navigate.

How do you classify animal crosses?
How do you classify animal crosses? Image: Kate Gray

The reason we have these labels, and why I keep using the annoying phrase “harvest like the moon”, is because no regulatory agency can properly create new labels.Like all languages, these genre names loop Out of the minds of some journalists or marketing experts, we are very grateful to use them, because we are really tired and have to describe the game in fifteen words.

Oh, the ace lawyer?That is a um, murder, mystery detective, supernatural fantasy, legal plot, adventure visual novel. On the other hand, Professor Leiden is a logical, puzzle, narrative, adventure, science fiction and animated visual novel. Very different. Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright? That’s complicated. Stop asking.

Imagine building a bridge When you cross it, Put the board down, step on the board, and hope it can be fixed. This is the game type.All of us are just trying to make them work when building games, desperately trying to describe games in useful, descriptive ways, and since many of those who try to do this are journalists and critics like me, we end up Say: This is very similar to other games” because our knowledge system is other games. Now, it cannot be repaired. We went too far, and now we have all these terrible mutant type names that must be used, or type names that the creator totally hates or rejects.

This "label"
The “Tags” page on Steam allows you to instantly understand the status of the genre.Half of these games are indeed extending the definition of “independent”

There is no simple solution here, because it has already been done. We can establish some regulatory agencies to crack down on new types, but what fun will this bring? People will continue to make their own proprietary mixtures of labels, descriptions and compound words to try to classify their favorite games, because humans really like to put things in boxes. Maybe this is just an upcoming issue, and it will eventually straighten out itself. But can I make a request? Please don’t let me call the game “metroidvanias” again. I feel like a wall.