Shooting the Shit Genre Busting in Video Games Reply To: Genre Busting in Video Games

POSTED BY elheber on Jun 02, 2016

See, I think “sandbox” and “open world” describe two different things. Open world is the least helpful of the two, but it simply describes a go-anywhere do missions at your own pace approach like in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Burnout Paradise or L.A. Noire. Sandbox means you create the worlds you play in or the things you play with, like Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program and Super Mario Maker; as if the game simply puts you in a sandbox with some toys and you take it from there. The more imagination or creativity the game asks of you or rewards you for, the more it is “sandbox”. And admittedly there’s definitely tons of crossover between sandbox and open-world, such as Just Cause 3 or MGS5: Phantom Pain where the game says, “here’s some toys for you to play with; I won’t tell you how to clear your mission so you’ll have to wing it.”

And to me, using narrative genres such as romcoms and slapstick comedies to label games isn’t useful unless the game’s story/narrative is the reason you play it. Most games aren’t just an interactive story IMHO. The closest thing to a slapstick comedy in games is Gang Beasts, but that brand of comedy (letting bugs and unpredictable physics or game behavior be the humor) is unique to games so I think it needs its own subgenre name that doesn’t come from film. Trying to use genres from movies and make them fit for interactive games is like trying to use music genres to describe interactive games. “This game is more of a rock ballad because of the hard tones yet soft themes.”

I don’t believe the problem with classifying games is that we don’t have enough standardized genres compared to film/literature, but that the scope of interactive games is so open and vast that nearly anything can be a game and a game can be anything. If someone makes a 3D painting in VR that wraps all around you and it encourages you to find a shape hidden except from a certain angle; BOOM, game! Electroplankton? Game! Typing of the Dead? Game! A game where you get just stomped and spat on by a cute girl in boots while you beg for mercy? YEAH, that’s a game too! Finding patterns in this wide ocean much harder than the more constrained art forms of film/literature.

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."