I have spent a majority of my microcosm of an existence enjoying a wide range of media. From video games to movies to books, I have experienced a lot of different media in my measly time on Earth. There is, however, one thing that I have had thoughts about for quite some time. There are countless times where people have told me that there is a specific genre of game, movie or book that they overall hate. While I may have agreed with people before that you can take an entire genre of media and simply throw it away as something you deem “not your thing,” I now believe that the thought of completely hating an entire genre of media is entirely unwarranted and can lead to someone missing out on an experience that you may not find anywhere else.
That thought came to me after I was playing a fighting game and while I was playing it, someone approached me to tell me that the genre of game that I poured hours of my life into was bad and that the only real goal of a fighting game is to win. I could go on for hours why that point is so worthless, you wouldn’t even feel it in your finances if you were rock bottom (which I might later on), but it got me thinking about why someone would say such a surface level, kiddie-pool shallow, blanket statement about an entire genre of games.
For a person to say such a statement means that they consider a genre to have such razor-sharp definitions of what categorizes it in the genre that there is little room to discuss what can really make the variations in it possible. In reality, a genre often covers thousands of unique titles that when put side-by-side would all have different mechanics, unique art styles and different pacing from one another. Even in a genre as codified as the fighting game genre, where many have told me that all the games in it feel and are all the same game, there is both “Street Fighter” and “Smash Brothers”: two very different games with very little overlap in their respective communities.
However, if you want a true look into how varied a genre can be, all you have to look at is the industry’s most popular one right now.
The battle royale genre has experienced growth, innovation and evolution at a scale that typically takes most genres many years to cultivate. It all initially started out with the birth from games like “The Culling,” where the idea was cemented that this was what battle royale truly was. Then came along a bunch of other similar games, such as the famous “PUBG” and “Fortnite,” and these led to the creation of dozens of others in the genre trying to take a piece of this incredibly fresh and lucrative market. What then began to happen as the FPS battle royale was beginning to get old was the implementation of the battle royale in all sorts of other experiences. When people used to say that they didn’t like battle royales, it made quite a bit of sense since the genre wasn’t being pushed all that much, initially. Now, I would almost say there’s no excuse. When a game like “Tetris” can be converted into the battle royale format, the idea of someone telling you that, as a whole, battle royales are bad or not for them seems laughable with the amount of variety in both gameplay styles and genre combinations.
This is obviously not exclusive to games. When I was discussing my dislike of horror to someone else and that I often didn’t find it engaging or interesting, he recommended this one manga artist that really pushed my opinion about what I truly meant by saying I hated horror as a whole. Because my surface-level opinion about most horror is that they try way too hard to startle you instead of actually creating an environment that would sustain fear, it always felt cheap and really easy due to how lacking in substance I often found the horror that I read to be. I was simply reading the wrong kind of horror for me and, as I have already said, genre is malleable, and often, the only way someone can do justice to one is to be vague.
Once you begin to understand how broad a single genre can be, there are few reasons to not try and explore one yourself. I used to believe that I didn’t like horror, then I found a kind that I liked. I used to believe that rap as a music genre wasn’t good, until I found rap that I really liked. I used to think that MOBAs were not for me until I found one that I enjoyed to the point of putting in literally over a thousand hours into.
The continuation of a genre’s games will often lead to more and more variety in the pool of ideas for others to use and combine for their own games. The more people explore a genre, the more their idea of what the genre is and what it means will expand to encompass a wider and often more accurate definition of that genre. The more they play battle royales and realise that a game like “Fortnite” and a game like “Tetris99” are in the same genre, the more their understanding of the genre will evolve and improve.
That is why people should just explore and examine genres, not with a drop, but with the ocean the drop came from.
Edward Park is a third year student with a BsED writings track. EP909767@wcupa.edu