This is a research paper that I wrote for my final in ENG394: The Rhetoric of Videogames, Spring 2009. I have strong reservations about this paper. My main reservation is that the paper tries to prolong the use of a name for something. I spend a lot of time making a unified definition of “adventure games” but this isn’t helpful. Classifying games into abstract marketing terms doesn’t do anything. Classifying a game as an adventure game doesn’t give us any more to talk about as it is still a game. It is much more important to consider what these games do, rather than what they are. How does the game affect the player? What problems do the game address? These kinds of questions are more important, more interesting.
My latter half of the paper talks a lot about what adventure games can do to become as popular as they used to be. This is the same as, what can any game do to be more marketable? I’m not sure any of the solutions I suggest in this paper actually make any game more or less marketable. From a games studies perspective, the ideas put forth in the theory section are more interesting, but don’t necessarily contribute to the selling factor of games (which I neither know about nor care about, quite frankly).
If a game is fun, it will be played, regardless of whether or not it fits into a cookie-cutter marketing label. While I am annoyed by the recent rash of “hidden object” games masquerading as “adventure” games on the shelves of my local game store, I am really only annoyed because it becomes inconvenient to find games I enjoy while browsing the racks. Different people like to play different kinds of games, true, but as games break out of their marketing genre boundaries, the “kind of game” labels become less meaningful. We, as consumers of games, will have to turn to better methods to select our games.
I present this paper with this shaker of salt appended. It was good for me to have written it, as it helped me find more direction in my research interests.