Style of play

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This is likely to be the most visible facet, as it's the one that's most analogous with the existing video game categories. When looking at ways to improve classification, however, we can see that what these current categories are are a mix of different aspects (ie, "First Person Shooter" is a mix of perspective and play style). The purpose of the "Style of play" facet is to isolate what the gameplay for a title is like, divorced from every other aspect like perspective or genre or tone.

At the same time, we have to understand that existing categories serve a purpose and are powerful "brands" in and of themselves. There are magazines and websites dedicated to the "adventure" genre. People eagerly wait for the next RPG title in their favorite series, whether it's an "action RPG" *Diablo), a "traditional first-person RPG" (Elder Scrolls), or a "Japanese-style 3rd person RPG" (Final Fantasy).

The goal then is to try and break down the types of playstyles into its own hierarchy--if possible adopting existing genre language, but not being afraid to abstract to a core concept when the current categories mix too many concepts together. See current video game categories for a list of how some of the larger video game vendors are currently classifying titles.

This may/will result in some titles being grouped together that historically haven't been otherwise (ie, first person shooters sharing space with other games that rely primarily on shooting at targets). This is envisioned to be a feature, not a bug, as the use of the other facets to further refine the content will allow customers to discover titles that match their preferred play style, including ones that might not have surfaced for them before.

Styles of Play

  • Action: successful play involves timing and reflexes on the part of the player
    • Cinematic: the video game equivalent of an action movie, with a mix of gameplay elements used to move the story along
    • Combat:the primary game play is to fight your way through the map/level/scene.
      • Brawler & Melee: gameplay focuses on up-close combat
      • Shooter: gameplay focuses on ranged attacks against opponents
      • Multi-style: players have the option to use ranged and up-close combat equally
    • Exploration & Survival: gameplay focuses on exploring the environment, and surviving the perils found there
    • Platformer: gameplay focuses on navigating the environment vertically, as well as horizontally
    • Stealth: gameplay focuses on avoiding detection
    • Vehicular: distinct from the "Vehicles" category below, these are for games where driving/piloting a vehicle is more focused on the thrills, and not the realism
  • Build & Manage: gameplay consists of using resources to build and/or maintain something
    • Building: focus purely on construction (Minecraft)
    • Business: focus on building and running some sort of business (Theme Park Tycoon)
    • Civic: focus on building and maintaining some sort of society (Sim City, The Sims)
    • Farming: focus on building and maintaining a farm
  • Casino, Card, & Board Games
    • Board
    • Card
    • Casino
  • Narrative: gameplay is heavily story-driven and rarely, if ever, requires reflex-based actions from the player
    • Adventure: the players have agency and the potential to fail or be blocked
    • Interactive Stories: so-called "walking simulators," these titles are like entering a book and being able to walk around in the environment, but not alter how the story will go
    • Puzzles: gameplay primarily consists of puzzle-solving (ie, Hidden Object games)
    • Visual Novels: unlike Interactive Stories, the player can usually only engage the next prompt to move the story along
  • Rhythm & Matching: games having to do with following a sequence or matching items to succeed
    • Dance
    • Match
    • Music
  • Role-Playing Games: games where the players have the freedom to define their character and how they will interact with the story (if at all). Note that many games have RPG elements (ie, the ability to spend points to improve their characters), but lack the freedom of a full RPG. Note also the lack of subcategories here--most RPGs are defined by other facets (setting, perspective)--breakouts like "Western RPG" vs "Japanese RPG" are too open to interpretation for our purposes
  • Sports
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Soccer
  • Strategy & Tactics:
    • Defense: players have a position they need to defend against attackers
    • Exploration & Expansion: players explore an environment and expand their sphere of influence
    • Game Mastering: one player takes on a (usually antagonistic) role versus the other players
    • Warfare & Conquest: Players build up a force and conquer all they can
  • Trivia
  • Vehicle Simulation: gameplay focuses on the experience of driving/piloting a vehicle, with an emphasis placed on realism
    • Air
    • Ground
    • Space: note that there are some action or RPG games with spaceships where the ship is the player's avatar, rather than offering a "spaceship simulator"
    • Water