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Do genre's matter anymore?



(NB: This is a weird write up/observation/train of thought, a random subject I was thinking about on the train the other day...)


Genres are a funny thing right? How many times has someone asked you what type of music do you like, expecting you to respond with an overall genre: "oh rock, indie, ya know". Personally I don't really like that question, or rather, I don't understand it. My Spotify playlists have everything from classical to rock to hard techno. So I normally just say "everything.. anything I like".

Looking at the music industry, it's safe to say that over the past 15 years, you have seem genre's merging, being mashed up and toyed with to create something new. Electronic artists coupling with rock guitarists and epic drums. Brass bands with drum and bass rhythms (see London Elektricity Big Band). It seems to be a natural progression for the music industry, as it strives to create a new sound, or even a new genre by splicing two together. It works too, look at Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers - Get Lucky.

You can see the same happening in gaming too. Most obvious and long standing example is Action RPG, very popular right now and a term associated with big AAA titles. It would always be a natural progression of games to head into genre busting teriotaty as systems get more powerful, and gamers want more creative content.

My question is: do we need genres?

As genres merge, evolve, and accelerate over time, what use is defining games by genres. I understand the need to classify games in a broad strokes fashion. Human's LOVE to categorise things. It's an actual neurological urge. It helps the brains organise data, and make associations. My problem with that is, does it stifle creativity? 

I recently did a training at work, and part of it looked at 'Rivers of thinking'. Basically if you work in a certain way, or think in a repeated fashion, you form deep rivers of thinking. Meaning that you form strong associations between topics and data. However if you want to change those rivers of thinking (aka think outside the box), the deeper they are the harder it is to do.  What am I telling you this? I think that defining genres for games from the outset formulates deep rivers of thinking, and stifles creativity.

Now, if I had done research for this piece, I would have spoken to a dev or two, and get their opinions or even coping mechanisms, to see how they approach this. But following some game developments in the past I commonly see 'we wanted to created a space sim so that's what we did'. Is that really the best approach? Why confine yourself to rules from the off? Why not have a story, a  concept, a piece of art, and progress from there? I understand the technical implications would be more difficult, but if devs want to be truly creative, it wouldn't be a bad idea. Let the genre develop over time.


Waffle over, I'll leave you with this: I want a Warhammer 40k RTS (like dawn of war) but you can switch to an on field commander to control FPS style. Devs.. GO





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