Dude, Where Are My Genres?

21 May 2009 | Posted by

marioThe more I look at this generation of video games, the more I grow perplexed and a bit worried about what gaming is turning into. No, not that games are somehow becoming lame or less fun. But more in the sense of the quickly disappearing idea of video game genres.

Allow me to explain. When I first started playing video games in the mid 1980’s, there was really only one main genre: the 2D sidescrolling platformer. Super Mario Bros. defined this. While we always had things like Pac-Man and such, the image of Super Mario Bros. and what it stood for as a game was synonymous with the idea that people young and old alike had in mind when thinking of video games. Over time, this idea grew to encompass all kinds of different types of video games, including sports, shooting, puzzle and even fantasy role-playing games.

As technology progressed, so did the medium, and the genres went to new and exciting places as well. The idea of playing a 3rd person 3D tactical espionage game like Metal Gear Solid would have seemed impossible just 20 years ago, as would the idea of a first person shooter like Call of Duty 4. The very first FPS game that I ever played was Doom for the PC, and I remember being completely immersed as I traversed the halls of Phobos, gunning down demons and monsters with my gatling gun. I remember being shocked at such a new idea for video games, and the idea of where it would lead had me excited.

And this is where things get interesting. Or droll, depending on how you look at it. Since its introduction as a genre, the image of the first person shooter has quickly become the image that people associate with gaming as a whole, throwing the 2D sidescroller from its throne. Publishers have learned one major lesson about the FPS: it sells like hotcakes. Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen a huge shift towards FPS games, and it is now the predominant genre of our hobby.

sacred2While I love FPS games, I’m really starting to hunger for more genres, and new ones! Just the last few months, I’ve found it incredibly refreshing to invest my time in puzzle games like Peggle, an RTS like Halo Wars, and most recently, an overhead Hack-n-Slash titled Sacred 2. In particular, Sacred 2 is reminding me of how fun these other genres are, and makes me long for a time when I had my pick of different types of games to choose from.

These other genres never stopped being fun, people just stopped making them. I mean, besides Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, I haven’t played a Hack-n-Slash RPG since the days of Champions of Norrath on the PS2. That was about 6 years ago. In addition, where are the platformers, the innovative sports titles, the point-and-click adventures, the fun racers, the mysteries? While I love the games that I’m playing in this generation, the technology was supposed to open the possibilities for developers, not severely limit them to only one or two styles of play.

So what do you guys think about this? What other genres do you want to see besides FPS games? What are your favorite non-FPS games of the last few years?

7 Comments »

  • SNOWMAN7 said:

    Hack-n-slash games are always fun. I also like 3rd person robot kickass games like armored core. That game jus ruuulez.

  • Anthony said:

    Zack and Wiki for the Wii is a point and click adventure that I hear really nice things about.

    But you are right, I miss hack and slash and other genres that were so instrumental in my gaming years.

  • wox42 said:

    I have to say, FPS games have great multiplayer, for the most part. TF2, L4D, Halo 3, Killzone 2, COD4, you just can’t beat it. But what do you notice about four of the five of those titles? They all have numbers on the end. They’re all sequels. And honestly, they’re all kind of derivative. The reason why they did so well wasn’t because of their single player, but because of the excellent multiplayer. That said, FPS games are not my favorite genre. But I would disagree with the idea that FPS games are dominating the market. Want a good racing game? Check out Trackmania, or Burnout Paradise. Want a good sidescroller? Look at Braid, or And Yet It Moves. Still, you’re right that those games are fewer in number. At least we’ll have some good third-person titles this summer – inFamous and Prototype!

  • Sean said:

    More strategy 3D games such as Battlestations Pacific. I think they have mass potential with games like that which allow for you to control a unit within a maps space. I think it has a lot of potential for RTS style games int he future. I cant wait to see how RUSE tackles the same style.

  • Cossack69 said:

    I really think that with a new generation of gamers will come a revamping of video game genres. I hope to see new innovative FPS’s and RPG’s, as well as some fun, simple, nostalgic platformers and hack-n-slashers.

  • Sam said:

    I really want to see a new racing game, like a Forza 3 or Gran Turismo for the 360 (DAMN YOU CONSOLE-DIVIDE!) I just find racing games to be the best, at least, actual ones, like Forza or something like that, I’m not a fan or PGR or street-racing. Those nice tracks and all that stuff are great. I suppose you could call it a Racing Simulation. And whatever happened to the GOOD NASCAR games, the last one I remember was a game from Sierra that come out in like… 2000. And my copy of it is wrecked (DAMN YOU BARBIE GAMES MY SISTER LOVES AND NEVER REMOVES FROM THE CD TRAY!!!)

    Then again, a game like SHIV needs a sequel, sub games are the ultimate application for what I learn in math class and besides… Sinking ships is fun!

  • Julez said:

    Great topic Eddie, like you commented on a previous topic, this is the kind of thing driving me crazy lately…

    [quote comment=”6738″] Want a good sidescroller? Look at Braid, or And Yet It Moves.[/quote]

    These are a few of the games I’ve been promoting amongst friends lately. These games that *seem* BRAND NEW to some are really just a throw back to the simple days of sidescrollers/thinkers. (And “simple” often means more mentaly complex than your average run-n-gun). I love these games, and they ARE innovative, I’m just pointing out that they are “a step back” to those who crave Crysis-Like Graphics with Bioshock-Like stories.

    I’ve gotta admit that I love me some FPS, but I agree that sometimes I wanna think and solve puzzles. That isn’t to say all FPS games are simple, but still. How many are genre-altering future classics?

    Its kind of how Rap doesnt appeal to me because I’m a musician.. or the way that old Black and White movies from the 30’s blow me away becuase they *don’t* need any x-million-dollar budget and special FX to distract me from a lack-luster story.

    Sometimes the medium can creatively change the way we see a genre, but for the most part, so much is recycled and regurgitated. Its nice to see some Indie dudes make amazing titles, but it is very difficult for Console gamers (the majority) to get in touch with these titles that never get mass distrobution.

    I repurchased a SNES for more than nostalgia. There is just something in simplicity that also draws out complexity. How difficult were the secret star levels in Super Mario World on SNES? I don’t think I ever got passed Gnarly ( the 2nd one? ). And that’s what I want. Simple beginnings, to teach you how to play, and progressively difficult levels.

    Somtimes I watch movies for the story, and sometimes for the glitter. More often than not the story wins my heart over FX, but the game industry needs to take a serious look at the way things are going. Who will save us??? (besides Valve <3)