I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the videogame cataloging system is in dire need of revision. I'm talking about all the different genre titles that define the style of game play: names like "first person shooter," "strategy," "beat 'em up." I really feel that a lot of them are becoming increasingly misnamed. Take "simulation," for example. Surely every game is a "simulation" of something, whether it be flying a World War 2 fighter plane or finely slicing the buttocks of minotaurs. Same goes for "adventure." Even more specific names like "shooter" don't encapsulate the grab-bag of genres most shooters are these days; the word "shooter" could just as easily apply to both Uncharted 2 and Space Invaders.
But the worst of these is "role-playing game," and the fact that its definition has never been particularly clear doesn't help. Again, surely every game has you playing a role to a certain extent, but presumably it's intended to harken back to the old pen-and-paper role-playing games you used to play with your little friends around the kitchen table in your pathetic, idle youth (or pathetic, idle current existence). But those games were about literally taking on a role; by this token the only true video RPGs are ones like Mass Effect or Vampire: Bloodlines that let you make dialogue and action choices that define the nature of your character's personality, and there are plenty of RPGs that don't do that.
Okay then, so I guess an RPG is a game where you select from a list of characters at the start, or guide your character down a certain development path, creating individually skilled protagonists who all approach problems with different solutions depending on their specialties. But this could apply equally to both Torchlight and Oblivion, which are still extremely different games. At a pinch, it could also apply to Team Fortress 2. Besides, where exactly does the JRPG fit into all this? The protagonist is always the same (usually an angsty androgynous douchebag) and the story is fixed. Many of them don't let you pick your own stat bonuses when you level up. They might as well just make the games entirely cutscenes, that's clearly the direction Final Fantasy wants to go in.
So clearly the solution is to come up with some new genre names so that games can be properly classified. JRPGs, for example, could be easily reclassified as 'Stupid Gay Rubbish'. And games like Torchlight could be filed under 'Games Where You Click On Things A Lot', to go alongside Monkey Island and Windows Minesweeper.
Yeah, that's all I've got. Not much to talk about this week. Let's just go to the callers.