Tuesday 3 September 2013

"The best co-op, 3rd-person, fantasy, puzzle-strategy-defense-shooter of 2012"

The quote is mine. I wrote that. I wrote it is a jab at the way 'genres' and 'categories' are listed on Steam. I like Steam, but their publisher assigned genres and categories are basically nonsense now. Some people seem to just tick every box on the back of "Yeah, it's got some of that".

As I have previously mentioned, I do understand the need to make these distinctions, but there are times when it gets a bit out of control. My rule of thumb: if your 'genre' reads like the response to "give a description in twenty-five words or less", then you need an editor. When it comes down to it, do you need all of those words? Are they all required to get players into what your pimping? Historically, I have played a lot of fighting games, and when a new fighter comes out I give it a look-see. The term 'fighter' is enough in that regard. I have a look and I read some reviews and I then start to think about the expanded terminology. Is it a technical fighter? Is it a team-based fighter? Is it a true 3D fighter, or is it 2.5D? While these terms are useful for fighter community discussions, I don't want to see the next King of Fighters referred to as a 2D, team-based, technical-franchise-fighter every time anyone talks about it. Apart from the fact the entire King of Fighters series can be described in this way (except the first where you would switch out 'franchise' for 'cross-over'), it isn't really a super useful genre, because it is a very small party.

As it happens the English language, out of habit more than anything else, will usually find a term for something when the party gets large enough. It is a linguistic blob, amorphously digesting anything it comes into contact with, press-ganging the required vocabularic DNA into sometimes bold and unexplored usage. When it's stretched it will even mutate new words from what ever it can find. It'll take a noun and make it an adjective, or a noun and verb it. Sometimes stick words together (compound words), and sometimes jam them together so hard that some of the letters pop out (portmanteau, which is itself a metalanguage term that is a loan word from French that originally referred to luggage, and was itself a portmanteau before we had a good word for it).

Video games are a relatively recent thing (when compared to art and literature), and we are filling out our glossary nicely. We have terms like metroidvania (portmanteau), tower defense, roguelike (compound word) and mmorpg (acronym) which my friends pronounce as 'more-pigger'. When the time comes that we absolutely need a term for games like Morrow Wind or Skyrim that aren't acctually part of the Elder Scrolls series, we will more than likely use a term like 'scrolls' (plural), and not first-person-hacktion-adventure-fantasy-RPGs. As a species, we're too lazy for that kind of tongue-twisting tomfoolery.

The title was in reference to Orcs Must Die! 2, which is hands-down the best co-op, 3rd-person, fantasy, puzzle-strategy-defense-shooter of 2012. No competition. It is also a fantastic game.

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