Author Topic: Game Genres  (Read 4030 times)

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Josh

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Game Genres
« on: February 16, 2009, 11:54:31 AM »
So we are planning on doing some shows on play genres and would like to know what genres people are interested in.

There are a few types of genre there are the big ones "Action/Adventure" or "Dramatic."

There are representations of Fiction Genres "Horror" or "Fantasy"

There are subgenres like "Crime: Capers" or "Mystery:Who done it's"

There are System Based "Diceless" or "Pass the Stick"

And then there are themes "transhumanisim" or "honor"

So what types of games are you interested in hearing deconstructed?
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Dionysus

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 04:23:06 PM »
I'm not sure that "genre" is the best way to classify the games though. Perhaps a better way to classify might be "whats the main conflict/task the characters will be doing"..

"Who Done It": is a really cool one - as the characters will be doing lots of interviewing, investigation etc.
"police drama": is similar, but there is more action involved - chasing scenes, investigation, "interviewing/beating up".

Shadowrun is a nice one - its the "heist game". But i'd like more about "making a plan" and having that effect the game (which wasn't touched on in 1st and 2nd ed)

but a "heist" can be sci-fi, modern, horror, fantasy etc. But the core would be the heist - a goal, a plan, the action, twists.

A "political intrigue" game could be fantasy (feudal lords/barons), criminal (mafia and gangs), scifi (dune) etc.

or the genre of "superhero" has a few different ones - are you doing a power fantasy of doing pulpy adventure/feats, or are you doing a more "with great power comes great responsibility" game - the price of power, or are you doing a "woe is me, my life is ruined secret identity battle with demons" superhero game?

Anyway - my starting list of things i'm interested in are:

price of power - how does having power change the character? Do you fall to corruption or inspire?
(light/dark, virtue/vice, etc)

Intrigue - backstabby politeness, assassination and manipulation.
(spying, misdirection, factions, double-agents)

Rise of empires - gaining territory, followers, moulding a culture. Being the King/Emperor/Mafia Don
(resource management, loyalty of followers, epic warfare, territorial clashes, )

Pulp Action - heroes fighting villans, beating them up and crazy adventures.
(punching, acrobatics, derring-do, epic mysteries to solve, over the top feats)

Any of these could be sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc. But game mechanics which support these types of "genres" would be awesome to know.

edit: oh yeah.. i'd love a rpg system to play in this world.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2009, 04:51:49 PM by Dionysus »

Cam_Banks

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2009, 08:42:30 AM »
I think it'd be cool to talk more about what's being described in some forums as "gut-wrenching emo-porn," the sort of games where the players have their characters endure all kinds of emotional trauma and distress and bad things in order to foster character development and growth. Can it be fun to play games where your character loses, or you burst into tears or get upset, or experience some other emotional crisis? Some people seem to think so. How does this sit with you folks?

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Cam
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Josh

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2009, 10:23:53 AM »
I think it'd be cool to talk more about what's being described in some forums as "gut-wrenching emo-porn," the sort of games where the players have their characters endure all kinds of emotional trauma and distress and bad things in order to foster character development and growth. Can it be fun to play games where your character loses, or you burst into tears or get upset, or experience some other emotional crisis? Some people seem to think so. How does this sit with you folks?

Cheers,
Cam

Do you have an example?  I know emotional games but I would never call them "gut-wrenching emo-porn,"  Shock, Misspent youth, dread, Burning wheel and others have some level of emotion.
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Cam_Banks

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2009, 04:16:46 PM »
Do you have an example?  I know emotional games but I would never call them "gut-wrenching emo-porn,"  Shock, Misspent youth, dread, Burning wheel and others have some level of emotion.

I direct you to the excellent forum, Cultures of Play where this is currently being defined. CoP may of some interest to you in general, especially since it discusses the play experience of RPGs and why this is just as important as the game rules themselves.

Cheers,
Cam
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Shoggoth

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2009, 06:30:32 PM »
I think it'd be cool to talk more about what's being described in some forums as "gut-wrenching emo-porn," the sort of games where the players have their characters endure all kinds of emotional trauma and distress and bad things in order to foster character development and growth. Can it be fun to play games where your character loses, or you burst into tears or get upset, or experience some other emotional crisis? Some people seem to think so. How does this sit with you folks?

Cheers,
Cam

Do you have an example?  I know emotional games but I would never call them "gut-wrenching emo-porn,"  Shock, Misspent youth, dread, Burning wheel and others have some level of emotion.

I don't really like the perjorative connotation of the term "gut-wrenching emo-porn" much, but I guess it works.

There are games like WoD, Shock, Misspent Youth, where the rules don't require that sort of play style but the color of the world and often the mechanics imply/support it.  For example, the mechanic in Misspent Youth where you can voluntarily convert one of your stats into the dark equivalent (I'm 4 states away from my books, or I'd look it up) heavily implies this play style.  You're making difficult choices in game, and by selling out you damage your character in return for temporary success.  The game ends when someone is so damaged that they can't be damaged any more.

Then you have games like My Life With Master and Grey Ranks where the mechanics absolutely require you to play this way; bad, terrible things will happen to your character and the entire point of play is to take the character through those experiences and see where each difficult choice takes you.
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Cam_Banks

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2009, 06:50:36 PM »
I don't really like the perjorative connotation of the term "gut-wrenching emo-porn" much, but I guess it works.

Yes, this comes in discussion, too. Some people call it "face-stabbing" and that produces intense reaction in people. I think these labels come up in certain groups who get a kick out of the use of shocking or avant garde terms and they stick. But the intent is clear.

Quote
There are games like WoD, Shock, Misspent Youth, where the rules don't require that sort of play style but the color of the world and often the mechanics imply/support it.  For example, the mechanic in Misspent Youth where you can voluntarily convert one of your stats into the dark equivalent (I'm 4 states away from my books, or I'd look it up) heavily implies this play style.  You're making difficult choices in game, and by selling out you damage your character in return for temporary success.  The game ends when someone is so damaged that they can't be damaged any more.

Exactly. Wraith: the Oblivion had a really cool mechanic for playing the Shadow, especially when it was somebody else playing it. There was all kinds of angst going on there. And I think that, mechanics aside, lots of people take the GWEP approach to White Wolf games just because it seems to be the thing to do under the circumstances.

Quote
Then you have games like My Life With Master and Grey Ranks where the mechanics absolutely require you to play this way; bad, terrible things will happen to your character and the entire point of play is to take the character through those experiences and see where each difficult choice takes you.

Yes. It's a lot easier in structured games like those. I can see people doing it a lot in Mouse Guard or spin-offs of same, simply because the game is similarly structured. It falls to the players to do the fun things (or rather, the gut-wrenching things) to provide substance.

Cheers,
Cam
Managing Editor & Community Manager | Margaret Weis Productions

Shoggoth

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2009, 06:53:33 PM »
So we are planning on doing some shows on play genres and would like to know what genres people are interested in.

There are a few types of genre there are the big ones "Action/Adventure" or "Dramatic."

There are representations of Fiction Genres "Horror" or "Fantasy"

There are subgenres like "Crime: Capers" or "Mystery:Who done it's"

There are System Based "Diceless" or "Pass the Stick"

And then there are themes "transhumanisim" or "honor"

So what types of games are you interested in hearing deconstructed?

That list includes more than just genres, as you say.  You've got play styles (AA/Drama), genres and sub-genres(Horror, Fantasy, Whodunit), systems (diceless, etc.), and themes (transhumanism).  You might want to be careful with the definitions.

Every game will have one or more of EACH of these elements.  What I would find interesting would be a discussion of which elements work or don't work with other elements.  For example, an AA game will usually work really well in fantasy, but not in Horror.  AA games typically use crunch-heavy systems, pass the stick is much more difficult to make work with one.  Themes can usually work anywhere, but it's much easier to deal with a theme like transhumanism in a genre like Sci-Fi or Fantasy then in a Western or a Noir.

If you want to keep it genres specifically, maybe break down each genre in several categories:

-  Sub-genres of the genre
-  Common tropes and off-beat alternatives to keep things fresh
-  Play styles that support this genre well (fantasy - AA), and play styles that don't (Horror - AA)
-  Specific games that work well or don't for that genre, whether because of a good system or great color that can be ported to a good system
-  Themes that work well in that genre, and themes that aren't obvious but would be fun to do
-  Other genres that blend well with the current genre (Wild West-Fantasy, Noir-SciFi) and genres that don't

This just screams CHART to me.  Big, cross-referenced chart.
Still came that eldritch, mocking cry - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths...had no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters.

Dionysus

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 07:25:50 PM »
//snip//
This just screams CHART to me.  Big, cross-referenced chart.

Oh yes please. I like pretty charts.  :love

... with colours too :)


Pteryx

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 10:03:44 PM »
Which tropes are necessary to a genre, which are common but unnecessary, which can be toyed with, which are out of place...

This is probably bigger than you can really cover in a single episode, really.  You have your mechanical styles, your setting genres, your mood and meta-genres...  By "mood and meta-genres", I feel I should explain, I mean stuff like mystery, horror, melodrama (the correct name for emo-porn :P ), humor, and the like.  -- Pteryx

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2009, 06:58:35 AM »
//snip//
This just screams CHART to me.  Big, cross-referenced chart.

Oh yes please. I like pretty charts.  :love

... with colours too :)


A chart organising the various character and setting tropes as set out in TVTropes into themes and genres?
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Josh

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2009, 07:29:08 AM »
Do you have an example?  I know emotional games but I would never call them "gut-wrenching emo-porn,"  Shock, Misspent youth, dread, Burning wheel and others have some level of emotion.

I direct you to the excellent forum, Cultures of Play where this is currently being defined. CoP may of some interest to you in general, especially since it discusses the play experience of RPGs and why this is just as important as the game rules themselves.


It is just an extreme example of drama.  An overdone payout of melodrama. 

I have seen it in practice, I don't have an issue with it but some people find it irritating.
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Robert Bohl

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2009, 09:18:01 PM »
It's even more interesting when you get rewarded for the emo-porn. Or when that's the whole point of the game, like with some Jeepform games (a Scandinavian form of structured-freeform LARPing that is all about "playing close to home").

Another genre I think you can touch on is the dark & twisted one. The one where the whole point is to go fucked-up and revel in it.

Shog: thanks for mentioning my game. It certainly fits, in ways, I think. I mean, you have to do things that make you feel bad and uncomfortable for your character in Misspent Youth if you want to steal a win from what would otherwise be a loss.

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Re: Game Genres
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2009, 06:25:44 PM »

That list includes more than just genres, as you say.  You've got play styles (AA/Drama), genres and sub-genres(Horror, Fantasy, Whodunit), systems (diceless, etc.), and themes (transhumanism).  You might want to be careful with the definitions.

Every game will have one or more of EACH of these elements.  What I would find interesting would be a discussion of which elements work or don't work with other elements.  For example, an AA game will usually work really well in fantasy, but not in Horror.  AA games typically use crunch-heavy systems, pass the stick is much more difficult to make work with one.  Themes can usually work anywhere, but it's much easier to deal with a theme like transhumanism in a genre like Sci-Fi or Fantasy then in a Western or a Noir.

If you want to keep it genres specifically, maybe break down each genre in several categories:

-  Sub-genres of the genre
-  Common tropes and off-beat alternatives to keep things fresh
-  Play styles that support this genre well (fantasy - AA), and play styles that don't (Horror - AA)
-  Specific games that work well or don't for that genre, whether because of a good system or great color that can be ported to a good system
-  Themes that work well in that genre, and themes that aren't obvious but would be fun to do
-  Other genres that blend well with the current genre (Wild West-Fantasy, Noir-SciFi) and genres that don't

This just screams CHART to me.  Big, cross-referenced chart.

I second this. I mentioned  something like this in another thread, but I think there could be a lot of discussion of what elements from one genre or type of drama could be used in or grafted onto a very different genre or drama type. I don't mean just the mechancis of constructing am Holmesian whodunit into an Ice Age fantasy game (although that sounds awesome!), but how the dynamics and drama of a genre or drama style can inform other genre's, etc.
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