My natural attraction to the adventure genre

Simon the Sorcerer, video game, screenshot, wizard, Calypso's home, fireplace, fridge
Final Fantasy XIII, video game, screenshot, Lightning, Flan B, battle

What’s your favourite video game genre and why?

Last month, Elise from Game Praisers published a post entitled My Natural Attraction. This gave an analysis of the genres they tend to be drawn to based on their gaming library, complete with a graph – and after being on my apprenticeship for six months, I appreciate a good bar chart.

The highest results didn’t come as a surprise to the writer. They said: “I think shooter games are so high on the list because I grew up with my brothers playing first-person shooters a lot, so I’ve inherited a lot of that, and there are a lot of platforming games as well because I grew up with the SNES and the N64. It also helps that those are the two genres I’m most proficient at, so of course I can enjoy them well.”

This got me thinking about my own relationship with video games genres and inspired me to complete a similar exercise. Like Elise, I doubted the highest scorers on my personal graphs would shock me in any way but perhaps a few interesting insights would be revealed. I grabbed my laptop, opened a new spreadsheet and started working through my Steam library to create a data set.

The thing that struck me almost immediately is how it isn’t easy to assign a single genre to a release. Back when I was a kid, it far more simple: Super Mario Bros. was a platformer and Simon the Sorcerer was a point-and-click. It feels almost impossible nowadays though because there’s so much crossover and intertextuality. To try and achieve some consistency, I decided to check the user-defined tags on the Steam page for each game and picked the one which felt the most appropriate to me.

video games, Steam library, genre, graph, bar chart

I’m sure nobody was doubting that point-and-clicks would come out on top. But what I did find surprising though was just how high the count was: they outweigh any other type of game and make up more than a third of my entire Steam library. In fact, my top-five genres could all be considered ‘adventure’ if you were looking to consolidate the categories. Combine these and you’d end up with 233 titles, over two-thirds of my collection, so I guess I’m rather predictable when it comes to my gaming habits.

While gathering the data for my graph, I noticed I own a lot of games which have a supernatural, science-fiction or thriller storyline. This might be consisted strange seeing as I don’t like playing the horror genre myself and only recorded 15 titles in that category, but I do enjoy an atmospheric storyline which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Therefore, if it’s combined with a slower-paced genre which will allow me to hide my eyes with my hands occasionally, it’s likely to be an experience I’d be up for.

The lowest count for me was JRPGs, another expected finding. The only release I own in this category is Final Fantasy XIII and this was gifted to me by Ellen from Ace Asunder for a game-swap a couple of years ago. I’m still shocked I managed to finish it. This type of game will never be for me personally because turn-based combat doesn’t feel natural, and the storylines tend to be far too dramatic for my taste. I also find it difficult to relate to the characters as they can be over-the-top and talk way too much.

Perhaps the biggest surprises to come out of my analysis were the counts for the platformer, strategy and card game genres. These are categories I tend to stay away from because they require more patience and strategical thinking than I’m capable of, and I prefer to get stuck in and press all the buttons whenever combat is involved. Yet they make up 7% of my library. This might be a rather small figure but it’s one which is higher than I expected to see, so maybe I don’t dislike these games as much as I thought I did.

Nostalgia serves as a reminder of experiences we had in our youth which were truly fulfilling for us.

Let’s now return to the adventure genre and figure out why it’s my happy place. I think this has something to with the reason given by Elise in the original article and is affected by a heavy dose of nostalgia. As explained during a post last week, The Secret of Monkey Island was the first game I played on an Amiga 500 gifted to me at Christmas as a kid. It became the first title I ever completed by myself and made me realise that stories I thought only existed in books could be brought to life through a video game.

Speaking of books, I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz as a child, stealing my dad’s paperbacks because I was too young for that kind of horror. This probably explains why I gravitate towards mysterious narratives nowadays and find enjoyment in the feeling of being scared. However, trying the first Resident Evil release was a rather shocking experience. It was one which taught me that it’s usually better to stay away from the genre and to watch while someone else handles the controls.

I went on to search out other point-and-clicks and discovered Simon the Sorcerer, Myst, Shivers and Broken Sword, to name just a few. The only downside to spending so much time with games in the genre was that I never really learnt to use a keyboard-and-mouse with any degree of skill or got involved with online multiplayers. It’s safe to safe to say The Secret of Monkey Island formed the foundation of a lifelong love of adventures, as well as a preference for single-player releases and a controller.

Nostalgia serves as a reminder of experiences we had in our youth which were truly fulfilling for us. We all remember those times before adult responsibilities fondly, when we could spend hours getting lost in a video game perhaps with a friend or a sibling by our side. The 115 point-and-clicks sitting in my Steam library and the fact I always return to the adventure genre are therefore not that surprising. I wondered if the same was true for other gamers, so I posted a question on Twitter yesterday to find out.

I’ll be interested to see if my stepson is still religiously playing RPGs when he’s my age or if something new has captured his attention.

There was an even split the last time I looked. Like me, some people have stood by their first genre and are still playing it today; Ellie from The Almighty Backlog still enjoys JRPGs for example. There are others who have switched over to something completely different, like Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes who now prefers fighting and roguelike titles over JRPGs. And then there are others who still enjoy their first genre but include others in their current favourites too, such as Nathan from Gaming Omnivore.

I didn’t expect this outcome: I thought there would be far more gamers whose preferences are affected by nostalgia. Perhaps that’s not the case because there are so many options and combinations available to us nowadays when it comes to video games, which points back to my earlier comment about it being difficult to assign a single genre to a release. I’ll be interested to see if my stepson is still religiously playing RPGs when he’s my age or if something new has captured his attention.

Thanks to Elise from Game Praisers for being the inspiration for this post. Now, over to you: which genres do you gravitate towards and why?

About Author /

Spreadsheet lover, video gamer and SpecialEffect volunteer. Goes by the name 'kissingthepixel' online. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

26 Comments

  • Frostilyte
    2 months ago Reply

    So…for the actual why, which was omitted from twitter. JRPGs were my introduction to video games by way of Pokemon. I have to assume that’s not terribly uncommon for someone around my age. The late 90s and early 00s were filled with Pokemon craze. My start with games was a product of that.

    For as much as I enjoyed those games, I never really enjoyed the genre as a whole. The things that made Pokemon fun weren’t the DNA it shared with other JRPGs. The turn-based combat was so bland I’d actively try to avoid it, and I was extremely adverse to actually speaking to, or otherwise reading dialogue from NPCs.

    With all that in mind, it doesn’t take much to see why I bailed on the genre once I had easier access to literally anything else. And I already covered at length why I got into fighting games on my own blog, so I’ll stop myself here.

    • Kim
      2 months ago Reply

      I have to ask: why didn’t you like speaking to the NPCs? And is that still something you notice today, or are you more invested in them now?

      • Frostilyte
        2 months ago Reply

        The overwhelming majority of them have nothing to say. There is something intensely frustrating about stopping dead in your tracks to speak to someone only for them to go on about nothing. That’s still carried forward to now – I’ll still avoid dialogue entire because so many games have nothing to say.

        As it stands, I’m also not big on idle chitchat, or social gatherings. I wonder why. 🙃

        • Kim
          2 months ago Reply

          Well… that kind of sums up my experience of first playing Pokémon as a kid and why I never picked up another one of the games. 😅

          Alongside NPCs who have nothing to say, the other type which annoys me is those have too much to say in terms of puzzles. It’s good to have them there to give you nudge in the right direction but I don’t want to be hit over the head with the solution.

          • Frostilyte
            2 months ago Reply

            I find, increasingly, that puzzle style games are getting better in that regard. More often then not the “hints” are gated behind some kind of player interaction where they consent to receiving the hint, as opposed to the older way of just flat out spilling the beans before they’ve even had a chance to think for themselves. I like that a lot. Players that want to bash their head against the wall can, but players that wish to receive a hint still can. It’s the best of both worlds!

            • Kim
              2 months ago Reply

              Good point, I guess there’s only so much head-bashing-against-a-wall that can count as fun. 😉

  • Gaming Omnivore
    2 months ago Reply

    *Of course* I couldn’t just provide a straightforward answer to that question, I kinda guessed what you were trying to gauge on Twitter 😅

    As a kid who grew up loving Mario and Sonic games, of course platformers will remain part of my gaming DNA. The irony is that Metroidvania games are essentially action-platformers with added emphasis on upgrades and exploration and roguelites just emphasize that loop as the core element of the game. So, I would say platformers are still my default favorite, though I continue to graze on a little bit of everything, but as sub genres that expand upon it a little bit as my gaming tastes have expanded over the years 🧐

    • Kim
      2 months ago Reply

      I know, I know, that question on Twitter was kind of a loaded one. But it was all in the name of research. 😆

      Your comment about Metroidvania games being platformers with the added elements almost makes it sound like they’re ‘platformers for adults’. Do you think that’s why you like them so much now; because they have that nostalgic element but have a bit more challenge thrown in?

      • Gaming Omnivore
        2 months ago Reply

        I think that can definitely be a part of it. Just by looking around online, I’ve noticed a lot of people that identify as more of a retro gamer will very often mention the two sub-genres. There seems to be a considerable amount of overlap.

        *OR* it could just be my diminished attention span in my advanced adult years…both sound likely.

        • Kim
          2 months ago Reply

          You know what, I can’t disagree with the attention-span thing. I think one of the reasons I still enjoy point-and-clicks is that they have a slower pace and I can easily walk away from them when I’m distracted by something else. 😆

  • Dryad
    2 months ago Reply

    I’m glad I could inspire your post!

    It’s great seeing how people’s interests evolve and change (or not change) over time. I still feel like I’m open to any genre, and I’m glad to have experienced a wide range even if ultimately what I enjoy the most is rather focused.. I love reading your stuff!

    • Kim
      2 months ago Reply

      Seeing my graph makes me feel as though I’m stuck in my ways ha ha! A silver-lining of the extra time during the COVID lockdowns though was that it encouraged me to try other genres, so although I’ll always return to adventure, I hope I’m more open-minded now.

      Thank you for the inspiration, and for the kind words. 😘

  • The Shameful Narcissist
    2 months ago Reply

    I would be the exact opposite of you in terms of (J)RPGs as that’s the genre I most gravitate towards. You’re not the first person I’ve heard say turn based is offputting, and yes lol, VERY dramatic. I like the story telling aspect of JRPGs from a reader/writer perspective, and I have a lot of theater friends so I’m used to drama :p I know I much prefer turn based and get a bit miffed when series that have historically used turn based change it, but for the most part they make enough adaptations and accommodations that it’s not overly difficult, and I’ve actually loosened up my views on that quite a bit. I do love point-and-click games though and just finished a mystery one. I can always play a good point-and-click. I’d need to make my own chart to see exactly where I shake out in terms of genre percentages.

    I love the design of your site btw! The game cover collage on the left with your logo is so aesthetically pleasing ♥

    • Kim
      2 months ago Reply

      Come on, you can’t tell me you played a point-and-click recently and then not give me a name ha ha! I’m always looking out for more recommendations. I started Unusual Findings this weekend and it’s fun so far – not particularly challenging, but the 80s references are nice.

      And thank you for the compliment! There are still a few little things I’d like to change once I have the time, but the site looks more how I’d like it to look now. 🙂

      • The Shameful Narcissist
        2 months ago Reply

        Bear With Me: The Lost Robots on the Switch! I need to buy the other episodes because it was SO good. Intuitive, good voice acting, interesting story. All of it. Now I’m between games again and I’m not sure what to play next.

        • Kim
          2 months ago Reply

          Oh I know this one! I haven’t played it yet but it occasionally pops up in my Steam recommendations, and it looks like it has some good reviews. I’ll add it to the list!

          • The Shameful Narcissist
            2 months ago Reply

            I played the demo a while ago and bought it based on that then forgot about it for like a year then while looking for something to play it was one of the like five games I started up. My Brother Rabbit is another decent one though it’s more of a search for objects and solve puzzles game with a poignant charm.

            • Kim
              2 months ago Reply

              Thanks for the tips. I tend to play more point-and-clicks in the winter because there’s something nostalgic about them, so these are perfect. 🙂

              • The Shameful Narcissist
                2 months ago Reply

                I think you’ll really enjoy it! It wasn’t that expensive either if I remember. Maybe $10? I know the rest of the episodes are around that. There’s also Darkside Detective which is pretty good, too. It’s a spookier game and it’s low res graphics, which I think makes it a little eerier for some reason.

                • Kim
                  2 months ago Reply

                  Ah that’s one I’ve played! I don’t do straight-up horror because I’m too much of a coward, but I do like point-and-clicks with a spooky storyline. Now that sounds like it could be a good idea for a Halloween post…

                  • The Shameful Narcissist
                    1 month ago Reply

                    Omg same. I’m a gigantic wuss puss and cannot play horror games or anything where you get chased. DSD is a nice compromise, but I still wouldn’t play it at night lol. Some of the music was a little bit creepy but it also has this tongue-in-cheek humor that I really liked.

                    • Kim
                      1 month ago

                      If you have any other suggestions for creepy adventures, let me know. I think I’m going to do that post for Halloween about point-and-clicks. 😀

                    • The Shameful Narcissist
                      1 month ago

                      Oh I wish I’d seen this sooner! If you’re still working on the post. There’s a text based game Choices That Matter: And the Sun Went Out. I just started playing it and it’s pretty decent. It’s essentially a video game version of choice your own adventure. Same thing for The Innsmouth Case, though that one is more illustrated whereas Choices is just text.. Did I mention The Last Story at any point? I didn’t play that but I watched a Let’s Play and it is probably the best game I’ve seen all year. Very Lovecraftian pixel graphic point-and-click with an amazing soundtrack. The pixel graphics make it that much creepier.

                    • Kim
                      1 month ago

                      The post went out this morning so I missed these! But I’ll add them to my wishlist so I can check them out. 😀

  • Solarayo
    2 months ago Reply

    Thanks for the link to my post! Still proud of myself for tricking you into playing FFXIII 😈

    • Kim
      2 months ago Reply

      Annddd this is going to be the only JRPG I ever played. 😆

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