Essay: What defines a video game genre?

Genre is something that is already well known and established in other humanistic fields such as literature and film studies. But with games only recently entering the academic scene as a valid area of study, the specifics of what defines a genre is once again opened up for questioning.
As consumers, we generally think of a genre as being a combination of the many individual components of the game production pipeline: Art, sound, setting, story, player goals and challenges. They all have an impact on which category the game eventually fits into, and this makes it easy for consumers to pick up something they know they will like.
But with recent academics debates raging – narratology versus ludology, and the difference between interactive games and other media – it might not be that simple.
This essay sets out to understand what defines a game genre, both from an academic standpoint, and in terms of how they are produced. Do the same rules that apply to film and literature apply to games? Or are games a completely separate entity, when it comes to genre?

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What defines a game genre?

NOTE: This is a very early draft of what eventually turned into a longer study. Please read the full essay here.

As video game players, we are constantly looking for new games to play. But when we decide amongst thousands of titles, there are many different factors we take into account.

One of those factors, is the genre.
The genre sets our expectations and let’s us know what we sign up for, before we even boot up the game. But what determines the label that goes on the box?

Continue reading “What defines a game genre?”