Game Properties

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This page is dedicated to determining a game's various properties in an effort to concisely explain and categorize games for the purpose of suggesting similar games to people based on what they already like.

Primes

There are three primes for all videogames: action, adventure, and strategy. Action measures how much emphasis the game places on reflexes, fast thinking, and being able to process a lot of information rapidly. Adventure measures how much emphasis the game places on exploring interesting locations, story arcs, and characters. Strategy measures how much emphasis the game places on planning and using limited resources, usually with a time limit or an extended time limit.

Most games incorporate all three of these primes to varying degrees, however some may lack one or two primes. For example, Chess lacks both the action and adventure primes. However, speed chess adds the action prime by putting a time limit on each player's moves, forcing them to make rapid moves. The game Battle Chess incorporates the adventure prime by giving the game pieces interesting characterizations and exciting animations.

When listing a game's primes, they should be sorted with the most dominate prime first. While this is ultimately a subjective distinction, it will make it much easier to match up similar games than using vague terms like genre.

Genre

Genre has become a fairly useless term when talking about games because it tries to merge the game's prime, setting, and view into a single term. For example, a popular genre used to describe games is "sports." Most game databases will list hundreds of games in this genre, but this tells you only the setting of the game, and practically nothing about its mechanics. Take FIFA 14 and FIFA Manager 14. They're both sports games, they're both soccer games, they're both made by the same company and have similar titles, and yet they are drastically different games. Even if a person really likes one, that has no bearing on whether they will like the other. This is because the dominant prime of FIFA 14 is action and the dominant prime of FIFA Manager 14 is strategy.

Another example can be seen with the "strategy" genre. Command & Conquer and Civilization are both seen as strategy games, but they each attract different types of players. One game is a real-time strategy, while the other is a turn-based strategy, but this just means they have different dominate primes. Command & Conquer's dominate prime is action while Civilization's dominate prime is strategy.

However, take two games that have nearly identical primes, but differing settings: Metroid Fusion and Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Many players who like one franchise also like the other, and you can bet that, even if they made a similar game with a sports-related setting, fans of Metroid and Castlevania, even those who don't care much for sports, would still like it.

Using this method, it becomes easy to see why some people can really enjoy one RPG, and hate another. For example, compare a Final Fantasy game to a Diablo game. Both games are usually given the RPG genre, and they both feature combat with swords, sorcery, and serpents, so you would assume they're very similar games. But of course, they feature entirely different mechanics. Final Fantasy games tend to focus on character development, exploring cities and caves while ultimately affecting the outcome of the world. Diablo games feature a similar story, but it takes a backseat while the player focuses on fighting monsters in real-time while trying to max out stats. When all is taken into account, Final Fantasy games tend to feature Adventure as their dominate prime, while Diablo games feature Action as their dominate prime.

Sub-Properties

Sub-Properties are important for describing a game, but they don't necessarily have anything to do with the game's mechanics, and therefore, the game's primes.

Setting

Setting is a way of describing the locale of the game. For example, the setting of the Ultima series is high fantasy, Doom is science fiction and occult, and Need For Speed is modern. Games can have multiple settings depending on their content, and like the primes, should be ordered by their prominence in the game. Some games, like Solitaire and Tetris, don't really have settings that fit in the real world, but instead can be described as board game and block puzzle respectfully. Additional examples of settings include cyberpunk, Oriental dynasty, American Civil War, etc.

It should be noted that the setting has nothing to do with the prime. In fact you could completely change the setting and it would rarely have any effect on the game. For example, if you were to take Need For Speed and put it in an Italian Renaissance setting with horse-drawn carts, or a futuristic setting with hover-cars, the game would pretty much play the same.

View

View describes the way the game is displayed to the user. Many games use multiple views, and they should be sorted by prominence. Examples of views include Side Scroller, Side Fixed, Top Scroller, Top Fixed, First Person, Third Person, etc.

Like setting, the view doesn't really affect a game's prime, however, unlike the setting, you can't easily switch a game from one view to another without seriously altering the quality of the game. Thus, even though Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 have the same order of primes, they're not on the same level of quality.