Eric Swain's A Clarification Of Genre

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Pages: 8

Genre is a way of categorizing different media on their form, style, or subject matter. By separating games or movies into these different categories, publishers can more easily target audiences that prefer certain types of storylines, gameplay, or design based on similar characteristics. To give an example, in cinema there are dozens of genres and subgenres that help moviegoers decide whether they would like to view a certain flick. Say someone’s looking for a feel good movie with an emphasis on humour, then they are more likely to watch a comedy that features exaggerated characteristics and plot lines. Whereas someone looking for a movie that gets you on the edge of your seat and fills you with dread might look for more of a horror or thriller …show more content…
As Eric Swain states in his online article A Clarification of Genre: Introduction,

“when you say Western people immediately think of the American Frontier, cowboys, horses... All those things can and do appear in Westerns, but aren’t fundamentally what a Western is. A Western in a genre about an exploration of a certain theme against a backdrop setting that highlights in physical terms what it is talking about in on a philosophical one. Namely nature vs. society, lawlessness vs. civilization, the nature of man between the savage and the moral, the struggle between the frontier and the march of progress.”

In summary, some genres may have certain characteristics that are shared, like cowboys and horses in Westerns but the main ideas behind the story are what define the genre. Although that is not without saying that certain aesthetic styles don't influence genre or that they aren’t a part of it, take for instance the bullet hell sub-genre. Although the story lines of the games may differ, the overarching theme is typically the same and tends to follow a specific style. For most bullet hell games, the screen is oriented to be played from a top down approach and features bright colours that move in mesmerizing patterns while you both dodge bullets and attack enemies. Because this style of gameplay is so distinct, it can be considered a defining
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Like Eric Swain says, “a first person shooter is fundamentally different from a point and click adventure.” Video games are unique in that although they are using similar technology to display and share their meaning with the audience, they inherently rely on different designs to effectively do so. This in itself lends to the idea that different genres rely on different formal characteristics and aesthetics to achieve the right gameplay mechanics to appeal to consumers depending on what they are hoping to achieve. An example of this, would be that of the role playing game