IFWiki:Genre

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Overview

This page will attempt to describe each of the genres to be used to classify IF games on the IFWiki. There will be three mutually exclusive sets of genres: literary genres, geographic genres, and style genres.

Many games resist easy categorization. It is both acceptable and reasonable that some games will belong to more than one literary (or geographic) genre. It is also both acceptable and reasonable that some games will not belong to any listed literary (or geographic) genre.

Literary genres: Adventure | Comedy | Drama | Espionage | Fantasy | Horror | Mystery | Porn/Erotica | Religious | Romance | Science Fiction | Slice of life | Superhero | Surreal | Western

Geographic genres: Building | City | Crazy quilt | Farm | Fort | Home | Island | Microspace | One-room | Outer space | Park | School | Ship | Underground | Virtual reality | Wilderness

Style genres: CYOA | Non-IF | RPG | Genre wanted


Literary genres

Adventure

Adventure
Adventure
The defining feature of a game in the Adventure genre is one with a PC who is an adventurer, explorer, or hero by trade. He explores exotic and forgotten lands in search of treasure to acquire, monsters to slay, and maidens to rescue. Another name for this genre might be "boys' stories".
Examples of this genre:

Comedy

Comedy
Comedy
Any game which tries to make its audience laugh is comedic to an extent; a true comedy is one which tries to do this regularly.
Examples of this genre:

Drama

Drama
Drama
Games in the Drama genre feature strong emphasis on character, plot and theme; they deal with relationships, the human condition, and inner lives.
Examples of this genre:

Espionage

Espionage
Espionage
Espionage games are characterised by a protagonist who is a spy or secret agent, who must infiltrate hostile territory in order to gather information, carry out sabotage, steal items and so forth.
Examples of this genre:

Fantasy

Fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy games are characterized by magic and myth. Magic can be in present in the form of spells, magic items (scrolls, potions, wands, etc.), wizards and witches. Myth can be present as mythic creatures (such as dragons, elves, dwarves, trolls, gods, demons, etc.) or mythic artifacts (eg: Excalibur, or the golden fleece).
Examples of this genre:

Horror

Horror
Horror
Horror games are characterized by death imagery (skulls, corpses, graveyards), blood and gore, hideous monsters, torture, death, and fates worse than death. Sometimes the PC's main motivation is simply to escape and survive. IF in this genre tends to draw heavily upon established styles of horror, such as that of HP Lovecraft.
Examples of this genre:

Mystery

Mystery
Mystery
Mystery games allow the player to play a detective who must search for clues, interrogate witnesses, and solve a crime (usually murder or theft). Often, the goal of the game is to make a successful arrest of the criminal. Detective PCs may be police officers, private investigators, newspaper journalists, amateur sleuths, suspects trying to clear their names, or witnesses who want to see justice done.
Examples of this genre:

Porn/Erotica

Porn / Erotica
Porn / Erotica
Games where sex and nudity is the main point of playing the game. Usually this means the PC is motivated to either have sex or witness sex as often as possible; such games are pornographic. Less explicit games, or erotica, might instead focus on sexual items (like undergarments, condoms, vibrators) or sexual or lewd talk rather than the act of sex itself. All AIF (adult interactive fiction) games belong to the Porn/Erotica genre, by definition.
Examples of this genre:

Religious

Religious
Religious
Religious games are usually characterized by frequent use of themes associated with religion, particularly Christianity (the cross, Jesus, the Bible, churches, etc.). Bibical verses are likely to appear. Religious games also usually try to touch on at least some religious issues, such as the nature of the soul, morality, sin, the afterlife, salvation, and so on. They are not necessarily written by authors of that religion.
Examples of this genre:

Romance

Romance
Romance
Romance games focus on love and related emotions like attraction, infatuation, jealousy, and heartbreak. Unlike games in the Porn/Erotica genre, explicit sex rarely occurs in Romance games. Romance is about the chase, the conquest, the wooing of that special lady or gentleman. Once that special someone has been won over, usually the story (and the game) will end shortly afterwards.
Examples of this genre:

Science fiction

ScienceFiction
Science
Fiction
Science fiction games are similar to Fantasy games except the trappings tend to be electronic and futuristic rather than magical and medieval. Science fiction games tend to contain things like spaceships, aliens, zapguns, robots, and artificial intelligence. Travel through time and outer space may be possible. New technology can also be used to explain cloning, teleportation, telepathy, etc.
Examples of this genre:

Slice of life

Slice of life
Slice of life
Slice of life games take place in ordinary reality, during modern times (any time after World War II), featuring events that could plausibly happen.

Note that "plausible" doesn't rule out "unlikely" or "far-fetched". Fonzie jumping over a shark? Unlikely, but it could happen with actual motorcycles and sharks, so that's slice of life. Fonzie meeting Mork from planet Ork? No, there's no planet Ork or aliens from outer space, that's science fiction.

Please don't treat this as a "miscellaneous" sort of category.

Examples of this genre:

Superhero

Superhero
Superhero
Superhero games feature "superheroes": do-gooder vigilantes with unusual abilities, such as flying, super-strength, or shapechanging. They boldly wear colorful skintight outfits, capes, and masks and they use their powers to protect humanity and the planet itself from all sources of danger, especially "supervillians" who are their evil counterparts. True heroes will always foil their dastardly plans! ZAP! POW!
Examples of this genre:

Surreal

Surreal
Surreal
Surreal games are distinguished by heavy use of bizarre or nonsensical elements. They may employ heavy, opaque symbology, distort language, or lack coherent narrative; they subvert their audience's expectations of reality. Many games contain brief surreal elements (for instance, in dream-sequences) but this label is for games which are mostly surreal. The line between fantasy and surrealism is not always obvious.
Examples of this genre:

Western

Western
Western
Howdy, pardner! Western games are games set in America's Old West. Typical featured things in a western include cowboys, horses, saloons, poker, stagecoaches, a sheriff, bandits, the new schoolmarm, losing the deed to the ranch, and a gunfight at high noon.
Examples of this genre:

Geographic genres

Building

Building
Building
This genre covers games primarily set within the limits of a single building (or self-contained building complex) that doesn't fall into the Farm, Fort, or Home categories. For example, the building could be a church, hospital, office building, factory, warehouse, secret laboratory, theatre, or shopping mall.
Examples of this genre:

City

City
City
Games in the City genre primarily take place in the streets and buildings of some city, town, or village. It doesn't matter whether or not the city is inhabited or not. What matters is that the city's borders are essentially the game's geographic borders; the PC is unable or unwilling to leave the city for most of the game.
Examples of this genre:

Crazy quilt

Crazy quilt
Crazy quilt
By "crazy quilt", we mean that the game has a patchwork arrangement of diverse locations that are not physically adjacent, yet nonetheless, the PC can travel back and forth between them. Often there are magical or futuristic gates that make travel between each patch possible. In some surreal games, there might be no explanation for the quilt, and the PC can simply go east from the daycare centre to get to the planet Saturn, no questions asked.
Examples of this genre:

Farm

Farm
Farm
Farm games are, well, set on a farm. Very similar to Home games, but expect most of the action to happen outside the house, not inside. And of course, there will be farm things like barns, wells, horses, cattle, chickens, more animals, fields of crops, and so on.
Examples of this genre:

Fort

Fort
Fort
Games in the Fort genre primarily take place in a large and old medieval-like building; the building might be called a fort, a fortress, a keep, a tower, a palace, or a castle. Although similar to the Home genre in concept, a Fort is likely to have additional rooms that a normal home wouldn't have (eg: drawbridge/moat, armory, dungeon, throne room) and additional features (eg: guards, porticullus, secret passages). Contrast with Building and Home.
Examples of this genre:

Home

Home
Home
Games in the Home genre primarily take place at someone's home, not necessarily the PC's. A home includes not only the rooms inside the house, but also exterior locations such as the porch, backyard, shed, and roof. The home could be an apartment, rather than a house.
Examples of this genre:

Island

Island
Island
Games in this genre primarily take place on an island small enough to be well-explored by the player; games do not fall into this genre simply because they are set in the UK, for instance.
Examples of this genre:

Microspace

Micro­space
Micro­space
These are games that primarily take place on a microscopic scale, or at least, any scale significantly smaller than the normal human scale. Either the PC has been shrunk down to insect size or smaller, or the PC is an insect or even smaller lifeform.
Examples of this genre:

One-room

One-room
One-room
Games in the One-room genre restrict the majority of the game to a single location. Because this is a genre, it is not required that there is exactly one room in the game. There might be an entrance or exit room, for example, in addition to the main room. Also, games like Shade (Andrew Plotkin as "Ampe R. Sand"; 2000; Z-code) and Rematch (Andrew Pontious; 2000; TADS 2) should be considered to be in the One-room genre, since the contents of all nearby locations are within scope of the main room, nor can you begin a turn in a room that isn't either the main room or a sublocation within it.
Examples of this genre:

Outer space

Outer space
Outer space
Games that primarily take place on spaceships, spacestations, and planets other than Earth.
Examples of this genre:

Park

Park
Park
This genre is about any public or semi-public open area that has a boundary within a city or town, more or less. The area is mostly outdoors, but can include several buildings also. This is meant to include games set at amusement parks, circuses, playgrounds, city parks, town squares, outdoor markets, studio lots, parking lots, zoos, and graveyards. However, note that the Wilderness genre can overrule this one; games set in national parks belong in the Wilderness category.
Examples of this genre:

School

School
School
Games in the School genre mostly take place at an educational institution such as a high school, college, or university.

Note that geographic genres are about the location of the game. Games that are about college students who stay in their apartment or dorm complexes belong to the Home or Building genres respectively instead.

Examples of this genre:

Ship

Ship
Ship
Shipbound games; that is, games that primarily take place on a ship or boat.
Examples of this genre:

Underground

Under­ground
Under­ground
Games in the Underground genre primarily take place underground, either in man-made tunnels or natural cave systems.
Examples of this genre:

Virtual reality

Virtual reality
Virtual reality
These are games that primarily take place in a imaginary landscape. This might mean you're literally walking around someone's mind. Or you're having a dream; you're in a dream world. Or you may be traversing computer nodes in some electronic network. Or you may simply be playing someone else's computer game, that is, it's a game-within-a-game. Virtual reality geography might have completely different physical laws or logic than you're used to.

A game should not be assigned this genre if doing so could constitute a spoiler.

Examples of this genre:

Wilderness

Wilderness
Wilderness
Games in the Wilderness genre primarily take place in the great outdoors - anywhere above-ground without too many buildings. Some games have a strong focus on the natural world they're set in, while others just use it as a backdrop.
Examples of this genre:

Style genres

CYOA

CYOA
CYOA
A "choose your own adventure" game is a simplified subset of IF where, at the prompt (or page end), a short list of choices is always explicitly presented to the player to choose from to advance the story. The game is not parser-driven. The choices might be numbered, lettered, or clicked on with the mouse cursor.

Non-IF

Non-IF
Non-IF
This style includes games that were written using an IF system such as TADS or Inform, but which cannot be truly regarded as Interactive Fiction — a prototypical example being Andrew Plotkin's Freefall. ZCode games of this type are sometimes known as Z-abuses.

RPG

RPG
RPG
RPG stands for "role-playing game", such as the game Dungeons and Dragons. In the context of IF, an RPG styled game tends to be highly inspired by D&D in its mechanics. Expect the mechanics of the game to include player stats (e.g.: Strength, Dexterity, Hit Points, Armor Class, etc.), amassing lots of currency (usually gold pieces), acquiring various new skills, randomized rounds of combat, and replacing poor weapons with better ones.

Genre wanted

Genrewanted
Genre
wanted
This is a temporary classification indicating merely that IFWiki has yet to determine which (if any) genres that a particular game has. This should not be used with any other genre category. When a game has been labelled with any genres, or if it has been determined that a game doesn't belong to any genre category, remove the {{genre wanted}} template from that game's page.