Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.
Everyone that gets into video games has their favourite genres that they like to play. Sometimes, this is a matter of the era that person started gaming in; e.g. I’m more likely to play side-scrolling platform games like Super Mario Bros. than today’s kids, who are weaned on first-person shooters. But oftentimes, it’s a personal choice, like how most of my more cerebral friends fell in with tactical RPG Fire Emblem.
This week’s question, via Crystal:
What is your favourite genre? Can you explain why?
Crystal Steltenpohl: My favorite genre is RPGs, hands down. I was a big reader growing up, so story is incredibly important to me most of the time. Give me an RPG with a great story and I will be happy for hours; I’ll even go into the fandoms from time to time. I grew up playing games on the SNES, Atari, and handhelds, and while the Atari didn’t have any RPGs I played, I spent an inordinate amount of time on series like Dragon Warrior Monsters, Final Fantasy, Zelda, Shining, Breath of Fire, Pokémon, Golden Sun, and even to some extent Fire Emblem. Thanks to devoted reader Delia, I’ve recently gotten into the Tales of series, and through other means, I’ve dabbled in The Elder Scrolls, Kingdom Hearts, Fable, Mass Effect, Fallout and various others.
Since I have limited funds, if I have the choice, I’ll almost always pick an RPG game. There’s just so much there in a good RPG. Hours of playing time. A compelling story. Characters you can love, hate, and feel sympathy for. It’s about atmosphere and getting wrapped up in a plot. I like other genres, too, of course, but anything that gives me the ability to put myself in a different place for a few hours is going to be at the top of my list.
Mohamed Al-Saadoon: My favorite genre would have to be strategy. I like turn-based strategy mostly, but I also like sufficiently slow real time games (e.g. Paradox Interactive Grand Strategy games).
As for why, let’s face it: 99% of strategy games are military based. Having grown up on army bases, I had a keen interest in military affairs ever since I was young, and that led to my reading a lot of military literature, mostly of a historic nature. While most other boys only really cared about blowing shit up in games—and still do, if the sales of the Call of Duty series indicate anything—I preferred the more cerebral tactical and strategic decisions taken by the men I really admired in my books: Rommel, Napolean, Hannibal, etc.
There is no possibility of my becoming an almighty conquerer in real life, which is why I’m glad we have a medium such as video games that, in some small way, makes our dreams come true. And since my dreams are militaristic adventures across vast territories that will lead to thousands of deaths, it’s for the best they remain in the world of fantasy.
Nathan Wood: When I was posed the question this week, my first thought was that I really didn’t have a favourite genre. I had a quick look at my video game library, and most genres are represented well and in similar proportions. In general, I like to think of myself as just a gamer, one who sees the appeal and finds some level of enjoyment in all genres. However, upon closer inspection, I noticed a pattern, so I followed the pattern until I finally managed to cut the list down to two genres. Some of the most complicated equations to have ever graced the earth were needed to reach this point, but I won’t bore you with the details.
I can’t say no to a good RPG. Never have I been able to, and I probably never will. The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and especially Fallout are the standouts, in my opinion, and if one’s favourite genre was decided by how many hours one spent with a game, RPG would have it by a long shot. Immersive, story-driven, and interesting are all the things I look for in games, and I find that RPGs, at least the good ones, have these traits in spades.
The other genre is third-person action titles. It’s a lot more of a general genre and can include a whole range of different titles. Dead Space, Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, and the recent Resident Evil titles are all games I would group into this genre, although there are quite a few differences in terms of combat systems, horror elements, and the like. Again, I’m more driven to the titles with a story to tell that, while not necessarily original, are still interesting or likable.
I want to point out that there are other genres I enjoy greatly that I haven’t even spoken about. I’m a fan of first-person shooters, although not as much as the new influx of Call of Duty fans may be. I also enjoy playing the newest NBA 2K offering every now and then, and don’t get me started on open-world games.
Huh, so much for cutting it down to two genres.
Connor Horn: There’s my favorite genre in theory and my favorite genre in practice. In theory, my favorite kind of games are roguelikes. There’s something about the concept of repeated playthroughs of randomized content that I think is somehow genius. The idea of a roguelike isn’t necessarily to win; rather, it’s to enjoy the journey and get as far as possible while making as fun of a narrative as possible on the way there. As such, a roguelike entails strategy, it’s got replayability, it builds interesting narratives, and it constantly surprises you.
Unfortunately, I say that it’s my favorite genre “in theory” because, frankly, there aren’t too many good roguelikes out there. It’s an honest shame.
As such, my favorite kinds of games in practice tend to be turn-based strategy games that have clear play goals and encourage unique strategies. A good example of this is Civilization. It feels almost like a board game in some respects in that it’s designed as a game, not a simulation. There’s a positive kind of aspect to this sort of experience that I think takes video gaming to its most pure and fundamental level.
Aileen Coe: A lot of what I play tends to be RPGs and SRPGs, like Final Fantasy, Zelda, Chrono Trigger/Cross, Fire Emblem, Suikoden, Lunar, Legend of Heroes, and the Shin Megami Tensei series. I’ve also dipped my toes into the Tales and Fallout series. I like story-heavy games and being able to lose myself in a good plotline, which would also explain my predilection for visual novel games. Depending on the game, there are also varying degrees of character customization, which provides even more to do and tinker with. RPGs tend to have a lot of content to go through so they give a good bang for one’s buck, which is another reason I like them so much.
Another genre I’m partial to is horror, even though I get freaked out kind of easily. I’ve played through Corpse Party, some of Theresia, the Fatal Frame games, and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. I’m still working up the nerve to play through Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and I’m chipping away at the first Silent Hill. There’s something intriguing about the creepy and foreboding atmosphere of those games as well as an adrenaline rush from a good scare. Of course, different things scare different people, which can make it difficult to make a good horror game. When done right, the experience can be quite immersive.
Christopher Bowen: I’m the gamer’s pariah: the sports game fan.
When you think about it, it’s kind of weird that sports games are so derided. Madden’s release has become a yearly event in America, just like FIFA’s release is becoming one in Europe. Their budgets are consistently among the highest in the industry. Sales numbers on a year-to-year basis are strong. And yet most “hardcore” gamers deride sports games as being the same every year with no updates.
In some cases, particularly as this hardware generation comes to a close, that is true. However, the average gamer doesn’t get the subtle changes that can affect a game. For example, NBA 2K12 depreciating the euro step changed that game drastically for anyone who didn’t abuse the move. NHL ’11 made significant changes from NHL ’10 that the average gamer would never have noticed, but I, as a coach and college-level official, found. Likewise, even more subtle changes virtually ruined NHL ’12. We get this, we understand, and we celebrate changes that seem like they’re meaningless to people who’s understanding of sports games is, “Isn’t that the one where you can make Gretzky’s head bleed?”
Things have only gotten better with the advent of Be a Pro modes and their similar counterparts. It seems like I’m playing NBA 2K12‘s My Player mode every night. It should also be noted that Aileen gets on my case because I haven’t played Ys Origins yet. “But Aileen! It’s long! It takes an entire night!” By the way, I’m seventy-two games into a season where I’m playing full twelve-minute quarters, so the games themselves take over an hour.