Alex Kierkegaard
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On Genre and the Tree of Gaming - Part I
Are genres equal? In drama, the question of whether tragedy is superior to comedy, or vice versa, has occupied art theorists and philosophers for millennia; but in our poor little field of videogames, with our sorry little collection of uneducated men-children doing the theorizing, the question of the inequality of genres has never even come up.

But it's time for it to come up, because, seen aright, this inequality is precisely what's been driving the evolution of the artform from day 1, and we can no longer ignore it if we want to understand what's going on, and what the future can and should bring. Hell, without this knowledge we can't even understand the past!

So let's start with the fundamentals. What is a genre?

A genre is a collection of conventions. In the FPS genre, for example, as I have said before, one of these conventions is the first-person perspective. Another, that there must be some kind of shooting. And so on. A game that therefore mostly adheres to these conventions is said to belong to the genre which they define. So when someone says that "All genres are equal", because "it's a matter of preference, dude, it's all subjective in the end!", what they are basically saying is that ANY COLLECTION OF CONVENTIONS IS EQUAL TO ANY OTHER.

Let the cosmic stupidity of this claim sink in for a bit. A convention can be anything. Me sitting next to your computer and flinging sh*t to your face every time you clear a stage is a convention too; could very well be a convention if I made a game that functioned that way. All that it would take to elevate this convention to the status of a genre—the sh*t-flinging genre (SFG)—would be... me making several of these games lol. I wouldn't even need anyone to follow my lead; as long as several of these games existed, regardless of who made them, that's a new genre right there that's added to our existing stable of them, and that, according to the "muh subjectivity" zombies IS EQUAL TO EVERY OTHER GENRE THAT EXISTS OR EVER WILL EXIST.

So the equality argument is so braindead it's not even an argument, and barely rises above the level of a mere insult. So we see equality being used here in the same manner as everywhere else, as merely an attempt to forestall and ultimately prevent a further examination of the field. If everything is equal, of course there's nothing to analyze here, which would be handy especially for those who lack the intelligence to conduct an analysis to any useful end. How convenient!

But such convenience is repugnant to thinking persons, and should be treated by them with nothing less than complete contempt.

Therefore: genres aren't equal, and shouldn't be treated as such, otherwise the entire history of the artform (and, at a higher level, of art itself...) makes no sense, as there would seem to be no reason why genres are born, rise in dominance for a while, and then give way and are replaced by further, above all more complex genres.

But there is a reason for this artistic Darwinism, and lo and behold, it is the same reason as that for regular Darwinism, i.e. that lifeforms aren't equal, and life is will to power.


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76561199094863711 Apr 21 @ 12:39pm 
yo dude, send me a friend request, lets play together
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Katerina Jun 13, 2019 @ 3:42am 
Dear CULT|icycalm
I represent the Starni Games company.
We would like to offer you access to our new game Strategic Mind: The Pacific.
We value your opinion and would be happy if you share it with us and the rest of the Steam community.
Please, let us know if you are interested in our proposal (add me).
Looking forward to your reply,
Yours sincerely
Starni Games
cheater May 6, 2019 @ 4:13am 
Hey, I love your reviews on GOTY. I hope you haven't been bombed a lot by this info recently. Following your recommendation I looked at PA Titans. The gameplay and graphics look great, but according to reviews it looks like recently the game ownership was transferred to some people who are less than professional towards the community. They ban people left and right from playing online (except for dedicated servers), for as much as posting a bad review. I guess paying $40, investing 100s of hours, and then getting banned - no warning, no appeal - must suck. Learning this was enough to make me rethink buying it. I'm not sure what you think about this, but it might change your mind on whether it's a GOTY. Anyways thanks for your work, just wanted to give you a heads up.
CULT|ExiledOne Jun 7, 2017 @ 6:47pm 
Insomnia is truly a site like no other. Few sites explore the nature of videogames themselves and none do it to the depth at which Insomnia does. From 'The Stupidest Words in Gaming', to the 'Tree of Gaming' and the final resolution to the "Games as Art" 'debate', to the simulacra, to the effects and future of virtual reality -- Insomnia covers it all, and then some. If you have even a passing interest in videogame analysis, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Who knows? -- you might just learn something.
CULT|recoil May 27, 2017 @ 11:58am 
I've been wrecking ♥♥♥♥ up in virtual worlds with icycalm for half a decade and I've been reading his work on his site, Insomnia, for close to a decade. In all that time, I can say with 100% certainty that this dude gets it. If you are a true gamer, look no further, you've found your home with Insomnia.