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Gaming Taxonomy and How To Classify Games


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Hey there!


I have a question for you guys: how would you go about classifying a game you developed? 

I’m a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and I’m looking for your help. We're running an online research study to develop a measure of game experience, and we're looking for input from game developers on game definitions. I was hoping you would be willing to take part in the study by responding to our 15-minute survey. It's all fully confidential, and I would be more than happy to provide you further details or answer any questions about my research this study on this topic thread. 

Survey Link: https://iitresearchrs.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5pZK3z7ZkG9AQsZ

You may find it surprising (or not, probably not) that academicians haven't figured a "proper" way to classify games, so game developer input is very appreciated. You guys contribute to science. Thank you!

Although I would like a response to the survey, I'd also love a discussion on the matter here on the forums!


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Just like there's no good way to classify books and movies there is no good way to classify video games. Games generally spread across multiple genres rather than focusing on one.

For example, MapleStory is an RPG, platformer, and an online multiplayer game. Mario is an RPG and a platformer. Pokemon is an RPG, adventure, management and strategy game. Rocket League is some weird mix between racing and sports but doesn't quite fit in either category.

The campaign of Call of Duty is an RPG FPS and the multiplayer is an online multiplayer arena-esque FPS. Halo is even more of an RPG FPS in campaign and an on/offline multiplayer arena FPS.

While Starcraft, DOTA, League, etc. are all battle arenas, the gameplay of Starcraft is vastly different from the others, and is more of an online RTS Battle Arena while the others are more combat oriented.
Age of Empires also fits the RTS Battle Arena theme, and that's something I don't think anyone would put in the same basket as League of Legends and DOTA, but it definitely shares a basket with Starcraft.

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Just now, PhenomenalDev said:

@SPQRawr I'm a Dinosaur Rpg stands for role playing game but it's specifically the mechanics that define it as an rpg, otherwise the sims counts an rpg, postal 2 counts as an rpg, gta 5 counts an rpg and pretty much every game does.

Not really.

In Pokemon you are specifically playing the role of Red/Leaf, Ethan/Kris/Lyra, Brendan/May, Lucas/Dawn, Hilbert/Hilda, Nate/Rosa, Calem/Serena, Sun/Moon.
In Mario you play as Mario.
In Legend of Zelda you play as Link.
In Luigi games presumably you play as Luigi? In all honesty I have never played one of them though.
In Jak and Daxter you play as Jak.
In Daxter you play as Daxter.
In Halo (campaign specifically) you play as Master Chief (except for one part where I believe you play as Arbiter, I don't remember to be honest?).
Like @jcsnider said GTA 5 is filling a role as well.
In Monster Hunter you fill a role.
In Blade and Soul you fill a role.
In Final Fantasy you fill a role.
In Kingdom Hearts you play Sora/Roxas.

Regardless of classification in all of these you fill a distinct role, for MMORPGs is slightly more nebulous because you customize a bunch of things, but the role-filling is still the same.

Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sims, Civilization and Europa Universalis are all not RPGs because you are not filling a distinct role, defining "distinct" as being an exact character, in the form of Mario and Link, or "the protagonist" in Blade and Soul and other MMORPGs.

League of Legends is also not an RPG because there is no story, and "role" is not specific to a character, it's specific to a position of play (i.e. bottom lane, top lane, goalie, midfielder, quarterback, catcher).

Regardless of what argument you make Mario is the textbook definition of playing a role, even though the game's medium of play is a platformer.

Platforming is a world/navigational mechanic, as are arena, open-world and sandbox.
Role-playing is in reference to story telling, and if a game has neither a story nor a plot it is not a role-playing game.
Shooter is a combat mechanic.
First-person shooter is a navigational/display/combat mechanic.

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I think a game can be rpg and a simulation game. Just take a look on every stupid mobile simulator game.


Control a unicorn who can grow up, level up, gain skill.


With sims you can't do that. That's probably why they did a sims rpg version. They implent many thing from the rpg gameplay and add it to sims.


Sims rpg is a rpg and simulators game, but not sims.

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33 minutes ago, Gibier said:

I think a game can be rpg and a simulation game. Just take a look on every stupid mobile simulator game.


Control a unicorn who can grow up, level up, gain skill.

That's interesting! Consider that a simulation likely denotes faithful recreation of a realistic experience. Is embodying (i.e. playing the role of) a unicorn a realistic experience that can be simulated?


Does classifying such a game as a "simulation" contribute any value or meaning in communication, or does it detract from them? When we say "this unicorn game is a simulation and an RPG," does this mean anything to the person we're communicating with? That's why we classify, right? To convey meaning? If I saw a game classified as an RPG and simulator, I would be confused. I wouldn't know what to expect based on that description. 

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Yes the game is a simulator first. But when a mean simulator and rpg it's which orientation the game will have.


Some exemple:


Rpg simulator:


- Sims rpg

- mobile simulator (with life, skill...)


Car simulator:


- project car

- driving simulator


Simulator only:


- rock simulator

- surgeon simulator 


They are all simulation game. But the second classify will explain more on what the gameplay will be. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all who participated! We've stopped data collection, and gotten a lot of valuable feedback from you guys. 

Despite the end of data collection, I'd still welcome any questions you may have about the study, or any input you guys have on game taxonomy.


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19 minutes ago, jcsnider said:

Sorry Greendude, I meant to make a point of bumping this so it wouldn't get lost under everything else. That completely slipped my mind. 


Hope you got some decent feedback from us, good luck on your study!


No worries! We actually got a decently-sized sample! And thank you!

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