Apperley suggests that King and Kryzwinska’s levels of game categorization be considered as layers of interactivity. Those layers being: platform, genre, mode and milieu. Platform being the hardware used to play a video game. Mode, according to Apperley, is a vague concept. The only clear distinction of mode offered by the three authors is single-player vs. multi-player. Apperley’s view of genre is that it describes the interactions a game offers. Milieu is simply a visual genre, the look of the game.
Platform, mode, and milieu aside, let’s focus on genre. There is no Adventure in Apperley’s world of gaming genres. Apperley lists simulation, strategy, action and role-playing as genres. Simulations attempt to simulate an activity with some degree of realism. Apperley also alludes to the idea that all video games are simulations in some aspect. Strategies are something like board games if turn-based and perhaps more like sports when based in real time. Strategy is also present in all games according to Apperley. Simulation and strategy seem more like characteristics of games, not so much genres. Action gets tied into mode. Wait, what? Mode is now a genre? Okay, action games involve extensive performance of ‘actions’. Most games are action games? RPG video games are different from traditional RPGs, but both are centered around character development. The common element amongst RPGs being the level system that allows players to level-up? Lastly, there’s no Adventure.
In concluding, Apperley states that genres can be used to classify games by their similarities. Strategies and RPGs have gaming elements that pre-date video games. Simulations do not. Action games are more like cinema? Yet, according to Apperley, Simulation and Strategy are specific genres and also descriptions of all video games. So, even though we might say that a game is an Action game, it is also a Strategy and a Simulation?
Okay, so I guess the purpose is to decide which genre(s) seem(s) dominant. The dominant influence in World of Warcraft is RPG, obviously. What about Kentucky Route Zero? Would Apperley classify KRZ as an action game? KRZ certainly lacks qualifications for anything other than an action game by Apperley’s descriptions, yet KRZ doesn’t really have much ‘action’. Why would we classify a game that lacks ‘action’ as an action game?
KRZ is an Adventure game, according to the Cardboard Computer website. What exactly is an Adventure game? Is it a genre or a sub-genre? Apperley, please tell me? Also, please be more descriptive than ‘all games are adventures’.
Recently I played some Game Dev Tycoon. Apperley would agree that GDT is a simulation. Hands down. GDT allows the player to simulate running a game development company. GDT involves a good deal of procedural rhetoric in the form of decisions about developing games and running a game development company. The player starts out at a computer in a garage with the task of creating a first game in mind. First, the player must name the game and make a set of decisions that relate closely to Apperley’s ideas on layers. The player decides on the game’s Topic, Genre, and Platform. Topic is Apperlay’s Milieu. Mode is basically single-player at the beginning of GDT.
Next up, the player must make decisions about game features. There are only two options for the first game: text-based or 2D graphics. Afterwards, game development begins and progresses over three stages. Stage one involves decisions about allocating time among three development activities: engine, gameplay, and story/quests. Stage two development involves allocating time to: dialogues, level design, and artificial intelligence. Stage three: world design, graphics, and sound. Lastly, there’s a little debugging and the player must make a decision to finish work on the game.
After a game is finished, the player gains experience in each of the nine categories in the areas where time was allotted during development. GDT borrows this gaming mechanism from traditional RPGs. Level up! The player can then make a decision to release the game, or trash it. If the game is released, the player will get to see reviews from four publications. All the reviews will rate the game on a scale of on to ten.
The process of developing a game earns the player research points. The points can be used to research additional topics and features. Research points, I think Apperley would agree, are character development borrowed from RPGs. Character development leads to better game development. Level up! Design a new game! Rinse! Repeat! Make some virtual money. Move from the garage to an actual office. Hire more developers and train them. Research new topics and features. Create custom game engines. Set up a booth at a game convention. Add a research and development lab. Develop and release your own gaming console. And so much more! GDT has a lot to offer, including the Adventure genre Apperley hasn’t mentioned. Does it exist?
Back to Apperley. Categorize games based on the elements games have in common with various types of media or activities. At first I thought of GDT solely as a simulation. After considering Apperley’s genres I recognize a heavy influence from RPGs. Now I question which, if either, is a more dominant genre in GDT. The GDT website states the game is a business simulation. No mention of RPG. Yet, I’m certain there’s some RPG in GDT. Apperlay has shown me that video games are defined by elements included in the game, not simply the developer’s and/or player’s ideas of what the game is. GDT is more than a simulation.