Genre Mindless [Obligatory Games Post]

2022-08-31 01:26:03 PDT

In terms of content, the participants of Blaugust are about games, music and geek media. So far, my blog has utterly failed to fit in. But hey, I can write about these things too. I really can!

Today I was trying to recall the last game I really played hard. It doesn't happen all that often — I'm a pretty fickle gamer. Turns out it was probably Breath of the Wild. So… yeah.

I never did finish BotW. I finally beat the four thingummies and finished most of the non-combat content in the game. I spent countless hours exploring and poking around. I got the DLC, then discovered it wasn't really for me.

The sticking point with BotW is that, while I dearly loved the open-world exploration, I'm not much of a fighter. It isn't that I can't do it, although I am objectively terrible at it. I just don't like it. In terms of traditional gamer classifications, I'm discovery then puzzles then meh.

The sad fact of the matter is that games are more and more stuck on genre content. Worse yet, pretty much every genre is either fighting, puzzling, crafting or some combination of those. It's great to see some open-world exploration games, but the game designers seem unable to get beyond the idea that the purpose of a vast open world is to provide things to fight, puzzles to solve, and industries to start.

Conservative genre-mining kind of makes sense for AA and AAA titles. No taking extra risks with that kind of money. Customers who are going to pay big and in large numbers for a title want predictability and familiarity. This is even more true for the free-to-play titles: they need to be big and sticky to work at all.

Indie game devs don't have so much excuse. The phrase "indie", which after all is only shorthand for "independent", is a little weird here: Activision/Blizzard is "independent". Presumably most small game devs want to be A/B someday, or at least want that kind of money.

What I want is genre-breaking gameplay. In particular, I want to get away from the toxic parts of genre tropes: no murdering and violence, no frustrating IQ tests, no dully addictive game loops. That leaves out a lot, right there.

As a sometimes game designer myself, I've been thinking hard about this. What space have I left myself?

I don't know. It's late and I don't have answers. Let's all think about the question. There has to be something there somewhere.