Posted by Elwoodan (951 posts) -

It is basic human nature to seek order, reason, knowledge. We are rarely (if ever) OK with the idea of leaving the unknown unexamined; when the rain fell on our earliest ancestors for the first time they, rather than accept it was a process they didn't fully understand, attributed it to a higher being and developed a complex series of rituals and rules in order to properly appease this ‘god’. One view of the world refers to this phenomenon as ‘god of the gaps’; the idea that we fill in what we don’t understand or can't account for with faith in a higher power.

If you want to get philosophical about it, arguably the only piece of actual knowledge we have is the intrinsic understanding of the self, of our own existence, and everything else is just ‘science in the gaps’; the acceptance that we can make observations about the world around us and rely on those observations to remain true so that we can call them knowledge.

Wow. At this point I have invoked centuries-old arguments on civilization, philosophy, spirituality, and existence in an incredibly simplistic and poor manner and you're probably already preparing counter-arguments in the comments.

So what, exactly, does this have to do with Video Games?

Well, generally, there has been a lot of discussion about labeling in and around video games recently. Rogue-like-like-likes and metroidvanias. The use of the term ‘gamer’. The definition of what is and isn't a video game. My worry here is that, with our innate desire to classify, organize, and align; that basic human nature which has created gods and science and post industrial German punk reggae causes us to get sidetracked into a quagmire of genres and classification that obscures the infinitely more interesting critique running beneath the surface.

In a nutshell, when a piece of interactive audio/visual software is making the rounds on game-centric sites (i.e. Giant Bomb, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Polygon, Gamespot, etc.) it is more valuable to debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the software, rather than argue its qualifications as a 'game'. We're all fans of this awesome medium that can encompass anything from Fire Emblem to Call of Duty to Mountain and I would rather hear why you did or didn't enjoy those titles, as opposed to why you don't think one belongs.

Ok, so maybe this doesn't make as much sense as I had hoped, but I've been thinking a lot about this lately and needed to write it down somewhere.

Thanks for sticking around.

-Dylan Bartholomew

#1 Posted by madman356647 (477 posts) -

I think people do the overclassify act to distance games that don't fit their definitions (like protecting their opinion on what a game/genre is/should be).

I see this with MMOs all the time.

#2 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3218 posts) -

People are all about organizing and grouping things to make parsing information easier. It's great, in the sense that it's helped us develop to where we are today, but it does get out of hand, and dangerously so. It's partly why so many arguments devolve into two groups of loud jackasses screaming at one another and hurling insults and vitriol; it's a lot easier to classify everyone who disagrees with you as a slobbering moron and scream at them than it is to have a nuanced discussion between hundreds of people with varying viewpoints.

And I do feel the genre classifications are kind of a bummer, in a lot of respects. I feel like people could make some really, really cool things if they stepped out of the borders of what their particular type of game is 'supposed' to be. The way that RPG mechanics have bled into other genres has been interesting, to say the least, but I'd like to see some crazier crossovers.