Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Untapped Potential: Genre generalization

7:00 PM on 06.12.2009 // Blindfire

[It's time for another Monthly Musing -- the monthly community blog theme that provides readers with a chance to get their articles and discussions printed on the frontpage. -- CTZ]   

In the race to create things that are new and interesting, many companies that lead the games industry have endeavored to provide experiences that blend genres in order to capture the interest of a wider audience. As a result of this desire, we are experiencing sudden influxes of games which attempt to blend or mix and match what were originally different genres. This process can produce success, but is far more likely to provide a cheapened experience on both fronts.

Genre generalization occurs when a game attempts to straddle two or more different genres or styles, without effectively fleshing out any of them. This often leaves the player inevitably wanting more from one part of the game or another, without ever really delivering a fully fleshed out experience. “Jack of all trades, proficient in none,” is an accurate term for this affliction. Unfortunately, this appears to be a major trend that will be shaping the modern gaming market in the months and years to come.

Some of the bigger blockbuster game titles of the last few years showcase this troublesome trend in all its gruesome glory. Mass Effect, from Bioware, is a chief offender, as are Resident Evil 4 and 5. Now, before I rip into these three games, I want to be absolutely sure that you know I really enjoyed these games. I’m not bringing them up here because they were bad games; in fact, I’m using these examples specifically because of their notoriety. The success of these games is the primary reason I see generalization as the next step in gaming, and where I see the industry as a whole headed.

Let’s begin with Mass Effect. Is it a shooter, or an RPG? Neither, really. It never quite delivers on any front in terms of functional gameplay. The shooting is, at its best, sub-par. The RPG elements, while present, are muted in order to allow for the more casual shooting design of the game. The only thing Mass Effect succeeds at is the intriguing and satisfying way it presents its narrative. This game gets completed because it draws the player into the narrative in an interesting and satisfying way. It does not compel you to play it because the physical act of playing it is rewarding. If anything, the gameplay actually gets in the way of the experience, and that is just ridiculous.

Mass Effect attempts to straddle the lines between shooter and RPG based gameplay, and utterly fails at delivering a full experience of either. The shooting mechanics are loose and clunky, the animation is acceptable, but boring, and the RPG elements are about as paper-thin as can be. The gameplay experience is cheapened significantly by the attempt to blend two genres, the result being a sub-par game with a compelling narrative and little more.

Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, or as my good Canadian friend calls them, “The suicide of survival horror.”

These are action games. Let’s not confuse ourselves with trying to create exact definitions of survival horror and shooter and adventure genres; these two games are about pulse-pounding, unrelenting action. And in the pursuit of that adrenaline-pumping experience, they deliver beautifully.

But they do not deliver the full experience of either shooters, adventure, or survival horror games. You are thrown ammunition and healing items at a generally acceptable rate (or a ridiculously high rate, compared to previous RE installments) to keep you alive, which significantly breaks the tension that is lovingly cultivated in survival horror offerings. You are relegated to standing completely still while aiming, in a foolhardy attempt to preserve some tension, but without any reasonable explanation as to why, which (for me, as well as many others) does not actually produce tension as much as annoyance. And, finally, the puzzle-solving elements from previous RE offerings has been significantly reduced, resulting in puzzles which tax the mind about as much as adding 2 and 2.

I will allow for the fact that there are certain moments in both of these games which are certainly scary to some extent. However, neither produce the same experience as a traditional survival horror game. Rounding a sun-drenched corner in Africa and finding a street full of zombies is not something that is especially terrifying any longer. In fact, in Resident Evil 5, I relish moments of open combat with zombified enemies.

Never, under any circumstances in either game, have I been held sitting on the edge of my seat for hours on end, nearly holding my breath for fear that whatever shares space with me in that digital plane of existence might transcend its designation of meticulously organized 1’s and 0’s and come searching for me from the darkness. This is the atmosphere that survival horror creates, and it is an experience unto itself. Resident Evil 4 and 5, at best, claw “Oh, [Insert Your Go-To Expletive Here]!” out of the player at a few unexpected occurrences. They are intense, but they will not make you second-guess opening one of the drawers or cupboards in your kitchen, for fear of what may lurk inside, hidden from prying eyes and reason.

In the compromises made to reach a wider audience, all of these games (Mass Effect, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, and several more) sacrifice their more distinct, well-developed flavors for muddied, lackluster experiences.

If, as they often say, “the sales tell the tales,” then the future of the industry for the moment is genre generalization. The current consumer’s desire for new and different experiences and the industry’s desire to reach a wider scope of the population is coming together to break down the walls between genres and gameplay styles.

Whether this will be the next great stride forward, or a titanic level step back, remains to be seen. Personally, I am hopeful. Perhaps the faults in these games constitute the tedious first steps in a wondrous new direction; little slips and falls to learn from and extrapolate new, more successful integrations. In fact, one of my (and many others) most hotly anticipated games in the coming months, Batman: Arkham Asylum, is doing some genre straddling of its own.

Now that I’ve had my say, what do YOU think? Are we headed for the discovery of combinations that will become defining classics for decades to come (what I will call the “PB&J” phenomenon), or is this a sign that we’ll be treated to massive libraries of bland, unimaginative combinations? Or, worse, God awful nearly unplayable slop?

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Shoot, I have made the awful mistake of watching 50 First Dates while doing Comments of the Week. The comedy in the beginning gave me energy, but all of the sad drama is making me cry and it's hard to see through all the tears. WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME!? 8^8
Zatsune avatarZatsune
I'm eating EDO's rn. Leftovers. Yum. 🍱🍣🍜🍲
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Kotobukiya's making a Xenoblade Chronicles X Formula skell model that looks great but I'd rather have a Lailah model. And I would name it Tharja just like my Lailah in the game.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Damn you, TV Tropes. As if I wasn't already dead set against doing an Undertale genocide run, this has killed the possibility for me.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
About to start streaming some This War Of Mine: The Little Ones on Twitch. Say hi!
FakePlasticTree avatarFakePlasticTree
Majima karaoke & the man train--Makes Dead Souls worth it <3
Roxas1359 avatarRoxas1359
Yep, Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is still as bad and unpolished as I remember it. Still manages to give me a headache too due to the choppy framerate.
absolutfreak avatarabsolutfreak
When aliens have taken over the world, there's only one man you can depend on: Macho Man Randy Savage.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
NBCSN has been killing it lately with their "Curling Night in America" coverage.
LaTerry avatarLaTerry
My favorite was already posted, so instead I'll share my second favorite, the greatest three headed Pokemon there is, Hydreigon.
Titannel avatarTitannel
I like Wingull! He's cute!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Eye of the Beholder (2014) - Possible boss battle theme for a video game. Love the action strings and bell instrument. I wrote this song for 2AD14 - II, which has many great tracks on it. This one is one of my favorites, which is why I'm sharing it.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Your waifu is shiiiiiiiit. Except Angewoman. That's an alright choice right there if she stays that way.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Who's that Pokemon?...The only one that matters, DUH
Parismio avatarParismio
Ay Chikorita will always be best starter pokemon:
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I am a wishy-washy toad who cannot bear to select a clear favorite Pokemon from among my innumerable beloveds. Instead, have an insightful quote. [img][/img]
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
My favorite pokemon is Prinplup. I busted my ass trying to get it in X, just to see Prinplup in 3D.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine New cBlog is up. Going to continue making a cBlog every weekend, not yet set on what I'm going to make my next cBlog about but it will come next week.
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
Mudafuggahs there's only one King.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -