Genre Defying

Genres are stupid. And a designer that starts off an idea with “I’m going to design a platformer/FPS/racing/RPG game” is a stupid designer.

The worst thing any creative person can do is restrict themselves, especially early on in the process.

American author Rick Moody once said “Genre is a bookstore problem, not a literary problem.” Basically let other people worry about what shelf to put your product on. I think the same should be applied to games too.

I don’t think we’ll ever get away from categorising games by genre, in fact I think even more genres will be dreamt up in the coming years, but the only type of games I want to be making are good ones, whether my audience wants to categorise them or not is up to them.

It hasn’t worked out too badly for Eiji Aonuma who, when asked in a recent interview with Develop why the Zelda series still resonates with the public after 25 years, answered “I think it’s because Zelda doesn’t fit into any gaming genre perfectly. Really what we’ve always aimed for is not about fitting one particular game genre, but to keep providing unique experiences that people can enjoy.”

About Adam

Games designer, Newcastle fan and prolific tea drinker
This entry was posted in Design Discussion, The Legend of Zelda. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Genre Defying

  1. I don’t think people are “Stupid” for designing in a way that focuses them, but I do agree that the concept behind classification should be the problem of the retailer or publisher, and not that of the developer. It can be limiting to name your boundaries to start with, but if you don’t it could render the project unproductive with such a lack of scope.

    • Adam says:

      I’d argue that the only time a designer should start off with a genre in mind is if they are working on a sequel or if they have been given the genre in a game jam or something.
      I’m not against tailoring a game once in production (AGILE development FTW!) but in the concept stage if you design a cool mechanic that doesn’t quite fit the ‘genre’ and you scrap it because of this, you’re not only doing yourself out of something cool but the potential audience too.

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