I feel like the genres we use these days to define games are too simplified. With our current genres starting to overlap, a lot of grey area emerges. To better define a game’s genre, I’ve written up these 4 factors that I believe better define a game’s genre. It will take a few sentences to explain a game, but the picture will be much more clear.

Factor 1: Identity – Personal or Avatar

A player will always have a sense of identity, because a player is a person. The split here is if the player maintains a personal identity or associates their identity with an Avatar. This can also include multiple avatars in the case of some RPGs and Strategy games.

Factor 2: Interaction

Next a game genre is defined by how the player interacts with the scene, or the mechanics. This can be done through the avatar or through a series of inputs (in the case of most puzzle games). Typically the interaction is seen in changing the value or a variable, or modifying the scene in some way. Most games are classified by what exactly a player can modify in the scene. This also includes the degrees to which you can customize your character and/or game experience.

Factor 3: Win/Loss criteria – competitive or challenge

A game genre can also be defined base on what it means to win or lose in the game. In a competitive game, if the player wins, another party must lose, or vice versa. Additionally, both the player and the other party, have similar capabilities in the game world. In a challenge game, victory is achieved by the player solving a problem, this game does not necessarily have a loser because the capabilities of the “opposing force” are so different from those of the player, that the 2 cannot be classified as similar game objects.

Factor 4: Tested Skills – Mind, Accuracy and/or Speed

Rewarding gameplay comes from overcoming challenges of, mind, accuracy, and/or speed. A puzzle with no time limit is a challenge of the mind, a shooting range game would be one of accuracy, and a racing game would be a challenge of speed. I thought about having a 4th skill called “precision” for hitting the right button at the right time, but I decided that realistically, that was a combination of mind, accuracy, and speed. Mind: knowing the right button, Accuracy: hitting that button, and Speed: hitting it at the right time.

I believe by defining your game through these teirs, you have a real genre instead of the loose concepts the industry currently uses such as FPS – Avatar, First Person view /w mouse aiming and firing, Competitive, Accuracy and Speed with a Mental meta game.

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