Carroll’s discussion of descriptions and categorization reminded me of an issue in game genres and the various discussions regarding the role of genres for this function. It may be that games are aspiring towards art in their classification (or as Carroll put it, the lack of adequate classification descriptors), but the industry still seeks to strongly attach itself to genre descriptions. While this may seem like a non-issue, genres in games do not follow a consistent description like in other forms of media. So, while they were created to serve the same functions as categorization of games, it seems to have created issues in the description and development of games. Much of this can be attributed to a lack of consensus on genres in the community.

While not complete, if you want to see a quick list of game genres, check out the Wikipedia page: <;

Genres descriptors as a category for games are often loaded in meaning and not mutually exclusive. As noted in some of the articles posted below, the genre’s categories do not lead to a complete or consistent identifier for games. Often, critics are challenged to come up with new genres to account for the adaptation of games. What we find now is that traditionally exclusive genres such as platformer, action, ect. are being mashed together to try and describe games in a meaningful way to consumers since the traditional category boundaries have been bridged. However, games often contain many genres that make the use of these descriptors ambiguous (fantasy fps rpg platformer, scifi action adventure, ect.). This begs a serious question: what is the real function of genres (and sub-genres) for games? Carroll is a proponent for using these categories despite the constant conflict and reevaluation that takes place in games. Is it a fault of the critics use of “genre” in game descriptions or the nature of the art? And to some, is the system of categorization/genres salvageable or important anymore to critiques for games?

Here are a few interesting articles on genre issues and genre-based thinking in game design. Some of these are deeply tied to game design (read: interaction design) as well.

RPG genre ambiguity:


Handling broad ambiguous genres:


Has a section of the talk that looks at 13 design methods to develop a new genre in games: