Genre Fusion: Binary Lovechildren

It’s not uncommon for gamers to hear the question, “what is your favorite genre?” Throughout my game-playing career, I have been hit with this very query on more occasions than I can count. Each time I feel slightly uncomfortable about giving a straight answer, and am compelled to not only say that I don’t have a favorite genre, but also to explain why, and detail what I hope to see out of the video game industry as it relates to the question of genre preferences.

It usually goes something like this:

I don’t have a favorite genre. I prefer to take each game as an individual piece of work rather than lumping it into a category along with a myriad of other titles. Sure, I compare games to one another based on their similarities, but to prefer one type over another and to harbor preconceived notions about them seems counter-productive to enjoying as many games as possible. Being a video game journalist, those sorts of prejudices can hurt my ability to objectively critique games, as well.

That all sounds like a very hippie-esque view of the video game world, but in a very fundamental way, it is true. Games will be compared to a certain extent, but they must also stand on their own.

This is especially the case in the event of genre fusion – games that combine elements from two or more genres in a unique way. I happen to love when developers go this route and create something completely fresh (and hopefully enjoyable).

This has been happening more often as of late; it seems that the current list of genres just isn’t enough to accommodate the creative vision of the people making games nowadays. They need to expand. Patapon, The Club, Professor Layton, and Penumbra: Black Plague are a few games that have fused genres very well in recent months.

Unfortunately, the progressive nature of titles such as these is difficult for some gamers (and reviewers) to grasp. I don’t know how many comparisons of The Club to Gears of War I’ve read, but each time I feel just a little more disappointment creeping into my heart. The Club is basically a racing game… with guns… and points. It is not a traditional third-person shooter by any stretch of the imagination, yet many people desperately wish to compare it to those games.

Most of the time, however, the genre-fused product is so obviously on the cutting edge of inventiveness that it is recognized easily and judged accordingly. Patapon has been a hit with reviewers, as has Professor Layton. Butt does that make the 2D side-scrolling rhythm real-time strategy or the point-and-click adventure brain teaser the new hot genres? No… well, maybe.

I hope that there will come a time when genre distinctions, or more realistically, genre norms, are all but forgotten – when games aren’t looked at as if they “should be” a certain way (more like game X or game Y), but just are what they are, appreciated solely for that which makes them unique.

…yeah, I guess that makes me an action-adventure-horror-shooter-rpg-strategy-racing-sports-sim kind of guy…


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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