We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

You can talk about almost anything that you want to on this board.

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
Marscaleb
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:39 am
Contact:

We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Marscaleb » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:47 pm

One thing that has long bothered me is the term "Adventure Game" for a certain genre of video game. Games like Monkey Island and King's Quest. Whenever I hear the term "adventure" I picture someone picking up a sword and slaying dragons. But these "adventure games" aren't about adventuring at all; they are about puzzle solving. "Adventure" is a more fitting description for a game like Legend of Zelda than for something like Indigo Prophecy.

Sometimes people will throw out the term "Point-and-Click Adventure," and this is honestly an improvement. For as much actual adventure as these games have in them, watering them down to what you'd expect from a point-and-click interface does describe them close enough.
But you can't call the whole genre "point-and-click adventure" because it doesn't apply to the older games that use a text parser, or various other titles where you don't actually point anything.
So maybe you could say "Graphic Adventure" but that doesn't describe it very well; the first image that conjures up is some explicitly R-Rated game, because it's graphic. Plus it doesn't apply to the old text adventure games, which means you'd have to separate the two, which means when you try to call the whole genre something you wind up at just "adventure." That's right back to where we started!

We need a new term for the genre.
When I try to think about what uniformly applies to these games, well, that's about puzzle-solving. But when people hear about "puzzle games" there is already a genre for that, with games like Tetris and Bejeweled. So that doesn't work. And maybe you could try to find a term that applies to both puzzles and a person exploring and talking, but if we had a good term for that it would probably be a better fit for games like Professor Layton and Puzzle Agent.

So maybe... Problem-solving game? That sounds more appropriate, but it doesn't really roll off the tongue; it doesn't sound like a good name for a genre.

But we definitely need a better term for this genre. What are your thoughts? What should we call this genre?

lidnariq
Posts: 9883
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 am
Location: Seattle

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by lidnariq » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:43 pm

There's no use. Sierra claimed the name for the genre in 1984 and you're not really going to be able to shift public perception now—there's too much precedent.

User avatar
Gilbert
Posts: 415
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:27 pm
Location: Hong Kong
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Gilbert » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:36 pm

As someone who came from a certain community I'd rather nothing would change. It's just too late.

Come to think of this, if we're always serious about all this we are going nowhere. RPG is an even more egregious genre. In how many games (computer games, at least) are you not assuming a role of someone/something? Why MUST a RPG characterised by stats such as levels gaining, etc. (that's why many people consider the original Zelda an adventure game rather than a RPG; well, this is arguable depending on different people's interpretations)?
(Another fun thing is the action genre. Think, in how many games or movies are actions not involved?)

It's just when a term was used so frequently to refer to something that it becomes an convention so that when brought up people wouldn't mistaken it to be something else most of the time.
(Also, it takes time for things to build up and stablize. Take Visual Novels as an example. It is usually considered a sub-genre of adventure games. In the past people called these games a lot of things, from just adventure games, to digital comics, to sound novels, etc.)

User avatar
nesrocks
Posts: 474
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:40 pm
Location: Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by nesrocks » Fri Jun 19, 2020 4:25 am

I for one hate genre categories. It makes the industry stale. Don't we miss the good old days when games were more experimental?
https://twitter.com/bitinkstudios <- Follow me on twitter! Thanks!

User avatar
DRW
Posts: 2023
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by DRW » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:30 pm

Yeah, those genre names are actually pretty stupid:

Role playing game: In "Castlevania", I assume the role of vampire hunter Simon Belmont.

Adventure game: In "Mega Man", I go on an adventure to defeat the evil scientist.

Action game: In "Balloon Fight", I struggle in an action duel against guys with pointy masks.

And none of these words indicate anything about the actual technical genre (platformer, shoot'em up, puzzle).
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

User avatar
Bregalad
Posts: 7993
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Chexbres, VD, Switzerland

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Bregalad » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:56 pm

nesrocks wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 4:25 am
I for one hate genre categories. It makes the industry stale. Don't we miss the good old days when games were more experimental?
+1

As when it comes to "adventure games", the vast majority of released video games are you taking the control of some hero to go doing some adventure, so I'd say a good 80+% of the games ever released are somehow adventure games. Only educational, chess or simulator games for example would definitely not be adventure games.

"Role Playing game" had already a meaning before video games were a thing, and that's where it comes from. That being said it would be fully possible to make a (video-game) RPG without EXP or levels - there's a Chrono Trigger hack doing exactly that. Had this hack been the actual game, would people consider CT to be a RPG back then ? Everything is there - menu based combat, story driven gameplay, a vast choice of re-equipable weapons and items, but no levels nor EXP.

Drag
Posts: 1330
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 2:57 pm
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Drag » Fri Jun 19, 2020 4:48 pm

I think the genre names are fine, but I'm wondering where you all are going that you're finding such poor classification systems for the video games you're looking for. :P

Action games come from physical games which test your timing and coordination.

Adventure games are a simplified adaptation of tabletop RPGs in the sense that you're presented with a scenario and you have to navigate your way out of it, but without character creation, spreadsheets, combat, or any of that "nerd" stuff.

Modern console RPGs are the result of a successful adaptation of the elements of a tabletop RPG brought to a game console with a joypad instead of a keyboard. There were many attempts, a couple succeeded and defined what "RPG" was going to refer to in the context of video games.

Can something be an action adventure game? Simon's Quest thinks so, as does Linus Spacehead. Can something be an action RPG? Secret of Mana and The Adventures of Link say yes. Can something be an adventure platformer? I'll bet Blackthorne would be up for the task. What about a puzzle platformer? Dana from Solomon's Key would like to think so! Can something be an adventure RPG? Probably not because they're two points on the same spectrum.

My point is, categorization breaks down if you try to conflate and try to generalize too much, which is almost always what these arguments end up doing. :P

ccovell
Posts: 1018
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:44 pm
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by ccovell » Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:04 pm

The first adventure game was literally called "ADVENT.EXE" ie: "Adventure". Sorry, dudes, give up. This is not the hill you want to die on.

User avatar
Marscaleb
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:39 am
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Marscaleb » Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:29 pm

First off, I would like to point out that my real question isn't about "if we can change the name" but rather "what would be a better name?"
The conversation had moved in a different direction, but I'm still interested in hearing thoughts on a better name for these games.
lidnariq wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:43 pm
There's no use. Sierra claimed the name for the genre in 1984 and you're not really going to be able to shift public perception now—there's too much precedent.
I don't want to sound rude about this, but that's a really terrible excuse.
Definitions change continually. It's not about what one company states, but about what public perception is. And having precedent since a given year is rather asinine. You can use that excuse at literally any point in time and it doesn't make the argument any stronger or weaker. Time keeps on going. Video games are going to be around for even longer than they have been already.

I propose to you that the only reason the term "Adventure Game" has persisted for this time is because nobody proposed a better name. Half the reason nobody proposed a better name was because the genre died. To complicate it further people have been using the term "adventure" to describe all kinds of other games and genres, and people have been making a conscious effort to maintain use of the term, demanding people stop calling these other titles "adventure" games. Which bring me back to my original point that the term SHOULD change; we should give the genre a meaningful name because people are always going to be throwing out "Adventure" for different games.

Honestly the real losing battle is the one to keep calling them "Adventure games," because since interest and market share of these games has dwindled so much across the years, and more younger audiences enter the scene, and as us older fans keep dying off, eventually the number of people who even have heard of this genre will be so minute that trying to use a word as ubiquitous as "adventure" to strictly apply to some forgotten titles that "out great-great grandfathers played about a century ago" is going to be seen as... Well, let's just say its counter-intuitive.
Honestly when we reach that point it will mean the certain death of those games if they are not given a name that makes sense. People don't tend to look up the definitions of words they use. Just look at how widely popular the mis-use of words like "factoid" and "fascist" are becoming, and that's when we actually have dictionaries to properly define these things. With no official source to demand what "adventure" means in a game, do you really think that the general populous is going to maintain that it applies to the style that was set by a company that went out of business 12 years ago?
Gilbert wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:36 pm
RPG is an even more egregious genre. In how many games (computer games, at least) are you not assuming a role of someone/something? Why MUST a RPG characterised by stats such as levels gaining, etc.
But here's the thing though: It's not about what a game CONTAINS but about what a game is FOCUSED on.
You assume a role in many games, you go on an adventure in many games, there is action in many games, you solve puzzles in many games, but all of these things come to varying degrees. I can find a number of games that incorporate "RPG mechanics" and stat building, but how many of them are really trying to replicate the experience of a table-top role playing game? A platformer doesn't become "not-a-platformer" just because one stage had a shooting mini-game. It's about FOCUS, not mere content.

And before someone brings it up, games can have multiple focuses. They usually become a new genre.
Gilbert wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:36 pm
(that's why many people consider the original Zelda an adventure game rather than a RPG;
That only proves my point about the term "adventure game." Zelda is in no way similar to Monkey Island or Space Quest. But people naturally gravitate to the term "adventure" meaning something closer to Zelda. People are going to keep calling games like Zelda "adventure games" whether we want them to or not.
nesrocks wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 4:25 am
I for one hate genre categories. It makes the industry stale. Don't we miss the good old days when games were more experimental?
That's a valid point, but I disagree. I think games have become more stale independently of what people have called them. Whether people had a name for specific games or not, people were going to copy the formulas of what actually sells. And honestly, genre-names don't actually appear until AFTER something becomes repeated enough to be distinguished from other titles. I wouldn't even believe that the effect is reciprocal because once a genre is "established" there is just as much effort to break the mold as there is to conform to it.
ccovell wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:04 pm
The first adventure game was literally called "ADVENT.EXE" ie: "Adventure". Sorry, dudes, give up. This is not the hill you want to die on.
Sorry, but this one is more popular:
Image

ccovell
Posts: 1018
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:44 pm
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by ccovell » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:24 pm

2600 Adventure is named after the adventure game Colossal Cave Adventure, based on the original adventure game Adventure. They're one and the same. If you wince at all the repeated use of that word you find ill-defined, then that's my point: it's inextricable at this point from the genre, its history, and the basis of its gameplay.

Adventure 2600 programmer Warren Robinett enjoyed that text mainframe adventure game, and wanted to make the equivalent on the 2600, but since the 2600 console couldn't hope to show that much text on-screen and with the verbal complexity of the original Adventure, he had to make it graphical instead, and more action-oriented, out of necessity.

This is the very short version of how text adventure games jumped to consoles. The "Man, that's old; this is a newer one" gambit you pulled just shows you didn't know this history.

User avatar
Marscaleb
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:39 am
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Marscaleb » Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:43 am

ccovell wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:24 pm
The "Man, that's old; this is a newer one" gambit you pulled just shows you didn't know this history.
Uhh, what are you talking about?
Seriously, at what point did I ever ever try to supplant something because of its age?
What I declared was its popularity; FAR more people are aware of the Atari 2600 game "Adventure" than Colossal Cave Adventure, ESPECIALLY when you refer to it by its executable file name.

nocash
Posts: 1262
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:09 pm
Contact:

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by nocash » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:31 pm

Marscaleb wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:47 pm
Whenever I hear the term "adventure" I picture someone picking up a sword and slaying dragons.
Wouldn't that be a "big-game trophy hunting game", or a "fantasy safari slayer game"? I would say that real adventures are about solving any kind of bigger or smaller problems that are unexpectedly encountered in daily life.
homepage - patreon - you can think of a bit as a bottle that is either half full or half empty

93143
Posts: 1268
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:31 pm

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by 93143 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:39 pm

nocash wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:31 pm
Marscaleb wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:47 pm
Whenever I hear the term "adventure" I picture someone picking up a sword and slaying dragons.
Wouldn't that be a "big-game trophy hunting game", or a "fantasy safari slayer game"? I would say that real adventures are about solving any kind of bigger or smaller problems that are unexpectedly encountered in daily life.
That's what a dragon is. You don't go kill a dragon because it's fun; you go kill a dragon because it's burning villages, raiding mead halls, eating princesses. It's a problem. A big problem that you have to be brave and strong to deal with.

Some modern fantasy games may have lost sight of this a bit; I don't know. But the original idea of the dragon-slayer was not very much like a virile set of whiskers exploring Darkest Africa with a pith helmet and an elephant gun, and even less like a planned, guided "safari" where you get to shoot a large animal for fun.

So yeah, if a game has you slaying dragons just because, or to harvest their flame bladders or something like that, it can still be an adventure because that sort of thing rarely goes exactly as planned, but it's pretty far away from the classic literary reasons to fight dragons.

Pokun
Posts: 1591
Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 5:49 am
Location: Hokkaido, Japan

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by Pokun » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:45 pm

I don't agree that the adventure game genre needs to change its name, and that is for the same reason that the video game RPG genre doesn't need to change its name, although it no longer has much of any connection to the original term "role play". It's a video game genre that evolved from a specific type of role play: pen-and-paper RPG, and thus the name of the genre shows its history. Adventure games are called that because they started with early text-adventure games (especially the game called "Adventure" like Chris Covell said) where you explore a non-linear world. In games like Zelda you also explore a non-linear world just like in the text/graphic adventures, it's just that gameplay is action-based. And Chris Covell showed the connection between the original adventure game and one of the earliest action-adventure games.

I think that the action game genre is just an overarching genre of any game that isn't somehow turn-based or waits for player input. The original Lunar Lander game was not an action game until they added real-time physics to it (it was text-based at first). Fighting, shooting and platform games are all therefore technically sub-genres to the overarching action game genre, so are mixed genres like action-RPGs.
And in the light of that, we can see a distinction between orthodox adventure games like Adventure, Famicom Tantei Club or Shadowgate and action-adventure games like Zelda or Metriod.

Now, I personally like to see Zelda as an action-RPG, but it's not without its problems. Zelda II and Simon's Quest are definitely platform-action-RPGs though, and the Seiken Densetsu games are as pure action-RPG as you can get, more so than any Zelda. Wonder Boy games are usually more platform games than anything else, although they sometimes have RPG features.

So rather than trying to change the name of a well-established genre (which probably isn't as unpopular as OP thinks), I would stop loosely calling games like Zelda, adventure games or at least call them action-adventure games to distinguish them from the orthodox version of the genre. I don't think the name of this genre is a reason for it to die.



Another thing on this topic, what i don't like, is some modern renaming of some genres. Like "tactical game" or "tactical RPG" for what used to be called a strategy game or even just the overarching genre simulation game (and genre mixes such as strategy-RPG/sim-RPG) which maybe got its name from Sim City. I think the "tactical game" name of the genre came about when Final Fantasy Tactics came out, which in turn was popular due to the FF7 hype (despite it really being more of a Tactics Ogre game rather than an FF game). The old genre name suddenly disappeared around that time, and mostly only remained in the Real-Time Strategy genre which of course is just a sub-genre.

lidnariq
Posts: 9883
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 am
Location: Seattle

Re: We need a better name for "Adventure Games."

Post by lidnariq » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:25 pm

Let's look at this from the other direction:

What unifies all of the following games?

King's Quest
Space Quest
Police Quest
Leisure Suit Larry
The Legend of Kyrandia
The Secret of Monkey Island
Discworld
Day of the Tentacle
Oxenfree
Broken Age

Or, if you feel one of the above doesn't fit, why?

Post Reply