Categorizing games used to be easy. If it was a football game, it was in the “sports” genre. If it was a Mario-style game, it was in the “action” genre. Other genres were simple, too, like “puzzle,” “adventure,” or “arcade.” Games were simple and to the point back then, so the genres fit perfectly.
As time went on, and gaming technology got more advanced, more genres were naturally added. “Role-playing game,” “platformer,” “survival horror”…they all sprung up like weeds. Genres also got mixed, giving rise to such labels as “action-RPG,” “strategy puzzle,” and “farming/dating sim.” (And no, that last one is not a joke.)
Nowadays, the labeling game has gotten flat-out ridiculous. Genres are literally being misapplied (or in worse cases, created) just to distance games from the “competition.” That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard; labeling a game doesn’t change what it actually is. A perfect example of this is something I’ve discussed before: Metroid Prime.
The game was given a first-person perspective to not only give Metroid fans something different, but also to attract the legions of Halo and other first-person shooter diehards. But, rather than calling Metroid Prime an FPS, which it most certainly is, the label that’s thrown around is “first-person adventure.” This is wholly inaccurate. Sure, you can say it’s technically a first-person adventure, because it’s in first-person perspective and you’re embarking on an adventure; but by that logic, almost every video game is an RPG, because you’re taking on the role of the game’s main character. But I digress. Metroid Prime is a FPS, plain and simple. First-person perspective? Check. Shooting enemies, doors, and so forth to proceed? Check. The facts don’t lie. If you want something closer to an adventure, try Shadowgate. That was in first-person perspective, but no shooting, no multiplayer deathmatch (which Metroid Prime 2: Echoes naturally added), and a tough adventure that you had to use your wits to get through, not just weapons (which you really didn’t have anyway).
The point a lot of people miss is this: just because Metroid Prime is an FPS does not make it a bad game, or any less of a good game. Sales figures nonwithstanding (they have nothing to do with how good a game is, just as music sales figures have nothing to do with how talented a musical act is), Metroid Prime is a solid title, whether you’re an FPS fan or not. No need to label it just to separate it from other FPS games…why the hassle? A game should be distinguished from its competition by its content, not by some inappropriate labels slapped on it by the publisher or by overzealous fans.
Perhaps one day, we can just solidify every title under a single genre: