25 votes

Let's rename some gaming genres to make them more accurate.

A recent discussion got me thinking about how a lot of the standard genre descriptions for games are either opaque to the unfamiliar or seemingly incongruous with what they are describing. Almost any game can be described as a "role playing" game because you "play" the "role" of a given character. Adventure games often aren't very "adventurous" and often just mean that characters talk to each other instead of shoot each other. In survival games you survive; in racing games you race; in casual games you... well, usually match 3 but not always? Also why are we so focused on camera for some games (e.g. first-person shooter) but not for others (e.g. third-person sports)?

So, let's throw away everything we know about genres and start fresh. No baggage from gaming history; no widely understood conventions; no games that reference other games (e.g. "Souls-like"). Your goal is to make gaming genres as clear and accurate as possible, at the expense of convenience, tradition, and, in some cases, good taste.

Turn "roguelike" into "procedural death labyrinth". Turn "battle royale" into "shrinking-zone dead-is-dead killfest". Feel free to propose not just genre redefinitions but whole a whole taxonomy if you feel it's warranted. After all, some genres need a hierarchy of identifiers.

Be as formal or loose as you want, and the main purpose of this is to have fun, though if some great new terms happen to fall out of it you won't hear me complaining.

42 comments

  1. Adys
    Link
    Lootbox Fest disguised as playing cards.

    Lootbox Fest disguised as playing cards.

    18 votes
  2. [4]
    Sahasrahla
    Link
    "Grand Strategy Game" -> "Endurance Map Staring". Pick your favourite colour and spend the next 100 hours staring at a world map while trying to make it that colour. (Also try to keep your colour...

    "Grand Strategy Game" -> "Endurance Map Staring". Pick your favourite colour and spend the next 100 hours staring at a world map while trying to make it that colour. (Also try to keep your colour mostly together and in a nice shape.)

    16 votes
    1. [3]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      But then you have to be fair: 1% of the time it's also Endurance Interface Clicking.

      But then you have to be fair: 1% of the time it's also Endurance Interface Clicking.

      11 votes
      1. Sahasrahla
        Link Parent
        I hear the interface is better now but this was certainly the case back in the day looking for people to marry or join your plot in CK2. "Maybe this genius, attractive, Tengri steppe nomad will...

        I hear the interface is better now but this was certainly the case back in the day looking for people to marry or join your plot in CK2. "Maybe this genius, attractive, Tengri steppe nomad will want to come to England to matrilineally wed my third daughter. Better click through real quick to check."

        3 votes
      2. xstresedg
        Link Parent
        So... sex? In both cases lol Obviously kidding. But...🤔

        So... sex? In both cases lol Obviously kidding. But...🤔

  3. [13]
    Grzmot
    Link
    MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) should be renamed to ARTS (Action Real-Time-Strategy). The reason for this is that MOBA is honestly a way to broad term. Any game that is multiplayer and...

    MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) should be renamed to ARTS (Action Real-Time-Strategy). The reason for this is that MOBA is honestly a way to broad term. Any game that is multiplayer and involves fighting against/with players in a closed level is basically that. Overwatch is a MOBA. Diablo is a MOBA. Call of Duty is a MOBA. All of these involve fighting with or against players in a closed level. The Battle is not even exclusive to PvP, as you can fight against players or with players, and both things are covered by the term Battle.

    The term MOBA was originally created by Riot Games when they advertised League of Legends as a legitimate competitor to Defense of the Ancients. As DotA was a genre-defining game, there was nothing else like DotA at the time, so every game copying it was simply called "DotA-like". Riot wanted to avoid using their competitors name while advertising their game, and so MOBA was born. ARTS actually gives you a hint at the genre, and turns your attention towards the "Action", implying a faster pace than classic RTS games.

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Is there a term for a nitpick that's not meant to discredit the quote, but give it context instead? In the public mind, anyway. It wasn't the first game of its genre, even if it's the most...

      Is there a term for a nitpick that's not meant to discredit the quote, but give it context instead?

      As DotA was a genre-defining game

      In the public mind, anyway. It wasn't the first game of its genre, even if it's the most well-known in the Zeitgeist. The first "game" was a StarCraft custom map called Aeon of Strife. It had the basics of the genre: a single "hero" unit controlled by player, with AI-controlled weaker allies tending to their goal.

      DotA, the original, was a custom map, too. It wasn't a game in its own right: you had to use a different game, WarCraft III, to play it. DotA was a mod, and many of those who played it didn't care about the game they had to download to play it: it was a kind of a wrapper for the experience they truly wanted.

      6 votes
      1. Grzmot
        Link Parent
        I'm aware of all those facts, but similarly to how Overwatch started the lootbox craze, you could call it a defining game in that regard, even though it wasn't the first to do it. And while DotA...

        I'm aware of all those facts, but similarly to how Overwatch started the lootbox craze, you could call it a defining game in that regard, even though it wasn't the first to do it. And while DotA was a custom map for WC3, I'd still call it its own game, just merely running on the WC3 engine, just how a lot of other games created with the Warcraft 3 world editor.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      aymm
      Link Parent
      Every DotA player I personally know refuses to call the genre MOBA and uses the term ARTS instead, just like you proposed. That includes me, because I too think that it's way too broad

      Every DotA player I personally know refuses to call the genre MOBA and uses the term ARTS instead, just like you proposed. That includes me, because I too think that it's way too broad

      2 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        /r/Dota2 calls it "MOBA" most of the time. I'm no exception, but only out of not caring for the accurate term at the moment.

        /r/Dota2 calls it "MOBA" most of the time. I'm no exception, but only out of not caring for the accurate term at the moment.

        2 votes
    3. [8]
      LukeZaz
      Link Parent
      Ehhh, the problem I have with ARTS is that pretty much any RTS could qualify. Pretty much anything qualifies for "action". Command and Conquer games have "action", Planetary Annihilation has...

      Ehhh, the problem I have with ARTS is that pretty much any RTS could qualify. Pretty much anything qualifies for "action". Command and Conquer games have "action", Planetary Annihilation has "action", Supreme Commander has "action", etc. Not sure what else to call it though. Third-Person Team Strategy?

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Maybe Free Online Action RTS?

        Maybe Free Online Action RTS?

        2 votes
        1. [4]
          Grzmot
          Link Parent
          That's only specifying the way the game is distributed, not the game itself.

          That's only specifying the way the game is distributed, not the game itself.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            MimicSquid
            Link Parent
            Ok, then drop the "online" bit and we've got a winner.

            Ok, then drop the "online" bit and we've got a winner.

            1. [2]
              Grzmot
              Link Parent
              You're still specifying distribution in the genre name, which should describe what the game is.

              You're still specifying distribution in the genre name, which should describe what the game is.

              1. MimicSquid
                Link Parent
                I mean, you can give my idea a pass if you think it's a stinker. I might be full of hot air but I'm confident that Free Action RTS is something that can definitely cover a lot of ground.

                I mean, you can give my idea a pass if you think it's a stinker. I might be full of hot air but I'm confident that Free Action RTS is something that can definitely cover a lot of ground.

      2. [2]
        Grzmot
        Link Parent
        Neither LoL nor Dota are in third-person though. Only game doing that is Smite.

        Neither LoL nor Dota are in third-person though. Only game doing that is Smite.

        2 votes
        1. Weldawadyathink
          Link Parent
          It's still third person, it's just not an over-the-shoulder camera.

          It's still third person, it's just not an over-the-shoulder camera.

          3 votes
  4. [8]
    AugustusFerdinand
    Link
    Battle Royale dates back to the 1700's at least, so isn't a game reference, and is suitable. Role Playing dates to before video gaming as you are playing the role of a character to greater extent...

    Battle Royale dates back to the 1700's at least, so isn't a game reference, and is suitable.

    Role Playing dates to before video gaming as you are playing the role of a character to greater extent than you do elsewhere. You aren't playing a role when you're one of the classes in a FPS, you're just playing a character. There's nothing wrong with the genre name, the issue is the oversimplification/literalness of which you are defining it. Every game requires strategy, that doesn't mean every game is a strategy game. The genres are named such to indicate the core gameplay component.

    There's a focus on the camera in many games as it dictates strategy and gameplay. In a third person game you frequently have control over many characters or can adapt your strategy to suit the all-seeing-eye perspective. A first person game you are generally only playing the character through which you view the world and can only react to what is visible there. I think the advent of VR will change the landscape of sports games as I can't think of a single first person sports game at the moment. A sports game that takes advantage of the head tracking in VR will allow the player to be the pro on the field. Everyone watches sports from the third person view, which lets them think they have a better understanding of the game than the pros themselves, when in reality the pro didn't avoid that tackle because they're looking through a narrow window and most hits are from a blind side/spot. I think the VR first person sports game could evolve further into full on simulation with each position being taken by someone with a VR set.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      Battle Royale just referred to a free-for all fight before the 1999 book and the 2000 film. Under that definition, a conventional FFA deathmatch game could be considered a battle royale. The genre...

      Battle Royale just referred to a free-for all fight before the 1999 book and the 2000 film. Under that definition, a conventional FFA deathmatch game could be considered a battle royale. The genre specifically references the movie though. Wide open outdoor areas, "zones" that eventually force everyone together and random loot all specifically reference that movie. The genre label doesn't really make much sense without it.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        Battle Royale is Battle Royal with an E and the roots are much older. The book/movie may have been the latest inspiration, but it's not the origin.

        Battle Royale is Battle Royal with an E and the roots are much older. The book/movie may have been the latest inspiration, but it's not the origin.

        1. [3]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          Not sure if you read my comment or not. The concept of a "Battle Royale" was just any large free for all fight before the movie. Having a huge area where people kill each other with random guns...

          Not sure if you read my comment or not. The concept of a "Battle Royale" was just any large free for all fight before the movie. Having a huge area where people kill each other with random guns while danger zones slowly forced them all to come into contact with one another was invented by the book. The games are directly referencing the movie.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            AugustusFerdinand
            Link Parent
            I read your comment. Royale is just a modern evolution of the Battle Royal by adding tech that shrinks a larger area that wouldn't be feasible in Royal and making the requirement to the death as...

            I read your comment. Royale is just a modern evolution of the Battle Royal by adding tech that shrinks a larger area that wouldn't be feasible in Royal and making the requirement to the death as if it was just until others give up. No one would care about the book or movie if it was "Fight until only everyone is too tired to continue!"

            1. papasquat
              Link Parent
              Literally every FFA deathmatch game was a Battle Royale by the prior definition of the term. Quake, Doom, Unreal Tournament are all free for all games involving lots of players. Battle Royale...

              Literally every FFA deathmatch game was a Battle Royale by the prior definition of the term. Quake, Doom, Unreal Tournament are all free for all games involving lots of players.

              Battle Royale games as a genre are unique in that they specifically have aspects of the Movie: a large remote island, "danger zones" that force the players close to each other as the game goes on, random weapons.

              If the movie "Battle Royale" didn't exist, those games would either not exist, or not be called battle royale games, because there's nothing that makes them battle royale games that doesn't also apply to prior deathmatch games besides the references to the movie.

              3 votes
    2. kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I was mostly wanting to give a lighthearted lean into absurdity here, rather than a formal critique of genres. I actually believe that most of our terminology is elegant and functional, albeit...

      I was mostly wanting to give a lighthearted lean into absurdity here, rather than a formal critique of genres. I actually believe that most of our terminology is elegant and functional, albeit with some growing pains as gaming continues to develop. Getting prescriptive about things often yields unweildy "correct" terms (procedural death labyrinth) that are far less comfortable than what they're wanting to replace (roguelike).

      With that said, on a serious rather than absurd note, I do feel like "role-playing game" as a classifier carries with it a lot of stat-based precedent that doesn't necessarily scale well, term-wise. I feel like Heavy Rain would not be considered an RPG by most despite the game being entirely composed of role-playing different characters, often to a very involved degree, while something like Clicker Heroes gets labeled as an RPG on account of its stat and levelling system, despite having no story or meaningful characters.

      The distinction makes sense and likely feels natural to anyone who's familiar with gaming, but if someone who's never played a game before wandered in, I feel like they'd have a hard time understanding why those two games would/wouldn't be considered RPGs, among many others.

      7 votes
    3. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think there was a Counter Strike mod that let you play soccer in first person. 11 players on each team, just like the real thing. Here you go! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmnuatgErOM

      I think there was a Counter Strike mod that let you play soccer in first person. 11 players on each team, just like the real thing.

      Here you go! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmnuatgErOM

      2 votes
  5. [3]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    Maybe not exactly what you were looking for, but I kinda wish the RPG genre was a lot more strict about what was classified as one. "RPG" should mean "an actual RPG at its very core" and games...

    Maybe not exactly what you were looking for, but I kinda wish the RPG genre was a lot more strict about what was classified as one. "RPG" should mean "an actual RPG at its very core" and games from other genres with only a smattering of RPG elements mixed into them (e.g. character attributes, levels, skills progression, etc) should be forced to be classified as "RPG-like" or something... Since as it stands, the RPG category on most digital distribution platforms is basically useless for finding actual classic style RPGs now, as virtually every other game these days, even first person shooters, have some "RPG elements" incorporated into them and so they feel justified including it in the RPG category.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Can you think of a "better" way of classifying these different games? Something like "Full RPG" or "stat-driven custom character combat narrative"? I share similar frustrations with the label.

      Can you think of a "better" way of classifying these different games? Something like "Full RPG" or "stat-driven custom character combat narrative"? I share similar frustrations with the label.

      1 vote
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Unfortunately not. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes something an "RPG" to me. It feels like one of those "I know it when I see it", and when not, "this isn't it!", kinda things. :/...

        Unfortunately not. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes something an "RPG" to me. It feels like one of those "I know it when I see it", and when not, "this isn't it!", kinda things. :/

        "Adventure" games are kinda similar in that regard too, IMO.

        1 vote
  6. moocow1452
    Link
    I'm not sure sorting games into genres is all that helpful, compared to breaking down the elements that make the game. Something like Chrono Trigger has walk bits, talk bits, exploration and...

    I'm not sure sorting games into genres is all that helpful, compared to breaking down the elements that make the game. Something like Chrono Trigger has walk bits, talk bits, exploration and puzzle bits, but the thing that seperates it from Super Mario is something like turn based combat, which Civilization has, but that's not an RPG as much as it is a strategy game, and if you take that away you get StarCraft which is something else entirely.

    So games can have elements of a genre and maybe even be platonic ideals of a genre, but games aren't really bound by them, and if you sort the genres around again or game different names to the same ideas, I don't think you really change anything or make these new genres any more correct.

    6 votes
  7. papasquat
    Link
    My least favorite genre name is "Immsersive Sim". It was coined by Warren Spector for games in the style that looking glass was known for (Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, Thief, to a lesser...

    My least favorite genre name is "Immsersive Sim". It was coined by Warren Spector for games in the style that looking glass was known for (Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, Thief, to a lesser extent) and games that its successors made (Deus Ex, Prey).

    I think the name is extremely pretentious and not descriptive at all. They're just first person RPGs. There's nothing significant that separates something like Deus Ex from something like Oblivion, systems-wise. They shouldn't be considered a separate genre.

    4 votes
  8. Thrabalen
    Link
    Diablo (and games of its ilk) are called ARPGs (or Action RPGs.) No, they're not... Fallout is an Action RPG. Skyrim is an Action RPG. Diablo is a 3/4 isometric click-to-kill. But there needs to...

    Diablo (and games of its ilk) are called ARPGs (or Action RPGs.) No, they're not... Fallout is an Action RPG. Skyrim is an Action RPG. Diablo is a 3/4 isometric click-to-kill. But there needs to be a better name that that!

    Also, I'd like to see some cleaning up of the Turn Based Strategy genre. And the 4X genre.

    4 votes
  9. xstresedg
    Link
    RPGs are Arbitrary Stat and Monster Reaping games. ASMR.

    RPGs are Arbitrary Stat and Monster Reaping games. ASMR.

    4 votes
  10. [3]
    Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    Dating sim game -> "pick an anime character by clicking dialogue boxes, sometimes with some ""statistics"" to help you" game. Seriously, that's some egregious naming there. Social interaction...

    Dating sim game -> "pick an anime character by clicking dialogue boxes, sometimes with some ""statistics"" to help you" game.

    Seriously, that's some egregious naming there. Social interaction trainer is closer to a "dating sim" than that.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      How would you build a dating sim – as in, a game that corresponds closely to real-life view of dating, that also curbs some of the harsher realities of the process to satisfy an escapist...

      How would you build a dating sim – as in, a game that corresponds closely to real-life view of dating, that also curbs some of the harsher realities of the process to satisfy an escapist experience? Anything in particular that you'd like to see more? anything you'd like to see less?

      4 votes
      1. Kuromantis
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        My ideal dating sim is an open-world game with procedurally generated characters (including you, if you choose) with personalities, physical attributes, interests and friends defined vaguely based...

        My ideal dating sim is an open-world game with procedurally generated characters (including you, if you choose) with personalities, physical attributes, interests and friends defined vaguely based on the real world where you're essentially just someone in the crowd, rather than the main/male character. You start by waking up, probably in the first day of school if you choose to start as a teenager and decide how you're going to start your day. You start your day by waking up and choosing your routine by going to places in your house, akin to undertale, where you walk around and interact with the game. You can walk and look around from a first person perspective, rather than being fixed in a screen. You go to school and during break you can walk around and socialize with everyone, which would be somewhere around 150-200 people, rather than 5-20 characters, who are also friends with each other.

        2 votes
  11. mrbig
    Link
    Puzzle game -> "You'll spend a lot of time on YouTube" Open world RPG -> "Better save you the trouble file for divorce now

    Puzzle game -> "You'll spend a lot of time on YouTube"
    Open world RPG -> "Better save you the trouble file for divorce now

    3 votes
  12. [4]
    Sand
    Link
    Metroidvania → Interconnected section exploration

    Metroidvania → Interconnected section exploration

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Metroidvania → Castle-like Environment Genocide Simulator

      Metroidvania → Castle-like Environment Genocide Simulator

      5 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Metroidvania → I don't have the words to come up with a good definition at the moment, but I'll probably find them later, which will then let me come back here and do what I intended to in the...

        Metroidvania → I don't have the words to come up with a good definition at the moment, but I'll probably find them later, which will then let me come back here and do what I intended to in the first place.

        2 votes
  13. cwagner
    Link
    Paradox Grand Strategy Games -> How to be Hitler Games.

    Paradox Grand Strategy Games -> How to be Hitler Games.

    2 votes