In response to "Defined By Mario" from The Escapist Forum: All Nintendo needs to do is make an Super Smash FPS and they will control the world.
Seriously, I love this article because I love Mario. Even today, Mario Galaxy 2 and Mario Kart Wii are 2 of the best games of this generation, both being top tier iterations of their respective genres and my absolute favorites of each. I'll never want to get into any other fighting game because of the awesomeness that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the Paper Mario franchise is one of my favorites of all time- a seamless blend of puzzle solving, platforming, and rpg gameplay that seemingly drew inspiration from Super Mario RPG.
I hear all the time how every single Mario game past Mario 64 is the same and Nintendo does nothing but release the same games over and over, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. His games (and most Nintendo games for that matter) are all about expanding, reimagining, refining, and refreshing old ideas while implementing new ones simultaneously. If Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy were both reskinned and somebody told me that they were too similar to Mario 64, I'd probably slap them. It's funny to think how his lowest quality games of all time are mostly Mario Party games....and even those have gems among them.
Happy 25th, Mario.
There's a comfort factor to Mario for gamers, due to his longevity and (usually) the high quality you find in games starring the the little plumber. Who else has that? Link, perhaps. Sega wishes Sonic did, but too many dodgy games begin to take the shine off the hedgehog. With that much consumer love, it would be nice for Nintendo to use him again in something a little more experimental and off the wall, the way Paper Mario was.
The Escapist breaks games down to their basics and devises a genre classification system that covers all (ok, almost all) of the bases.
Very well designed. Kudos to you all.
I think it proves one big point very nicely--the only way to make genre useful is to encourage cooperation and communication between people with differing opinions, values, and expectations. That means even rival game studios/publishers/etc. have to come to center and agree on what exactly "RPG elements" constitutes, or other such labels.
I also like how you engage genre. Too many folks confuse it with "setting." There are plenty of great stories (and games) whose genre doesn't match the setting. A story might be set in space, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's science fiction. Genre isn't about how the room is furnished--it's about what you're doing in that room. The rest is just the style of the decor.
Your wheel removes all (or most) considerations of the setting, relegating it to its proper place--costumes and furniture. These can change the flavor of a game, but they don't (or at least shouldn't) define it. Plants vs. Zombies is not "survival horror."
The big "but"...
I think the only place that's problematic is setting "Conflict" and "Exploration" games in diametric opposition. I really think it's just a terminology problem--your explanation works fine, but the terms are a little... eh. Conflict, as you've explained it, seems more about direct opposition--enemies actively working to prevent you from reaching a goal. "Exploration" seems more about indirect or environmental opposition--obstacles block your path, or enemies working to beat you to a goal (but not specifically to stop you).
That would explain why racing is on the opposite side from sports. I think phrasing it in terms of "direct" and "indirect" opposition might make this clearer.
I love this classification scheme not only because it makes sense, but because it allows me to easily classify one of my favorite games of this generation - Arkham Asylum! In my mind, AA is clearly an action game, and is equal parts conflict and exploration (I loved exploring and using new upgrades ro find more riddler trophies, etc). So I believe this game would sit right at the tippy top of the wheel. I suppose the argument could be made that the game is more combat than exploration, but now deciding the genre is a matter of thinking about the game rather than thinking about what labels we have best.
EDIT: This chart also confirms what I sort of already figured out about myself: I'm more of an action game fan. Most of the games I enjoy most - shooters, music games, ...Arkham Asylum all are in the same sphere. Sports is about as far out as I go towards strategy, with the exception of oldschool JRPGs which I enjoy once in a blue moon.
Very interesting, very well done. I hope you guys link to this article/chart in all your upcoming reviews.