Aesthetics of Play – Redefining Genres in Gaming – Extra Credits


  1. Can anybody think of any other aesthetics?

    Learning/self-discovery/productivity, but that's not a consistent experience. Too dependent on person.

  2. 8:37 XD
    P.S. Sense Pleasure can also refer to the thrill of the chase in Tag or the satisfying feeling of going fast in Sonic, for example.

  3. My heart broke a little when I saw the bottle being poured out for City of Heroes. 12 years and goin' strong, fellow Paragon residents…

  4. Dear Extra Credits team,
    I would be interested in that topic episode you suggested; Difficulty VS Challenge.
    You've done an episode on Depth VS Complexity.

  5. While aesthetics is a fundamental, so is interface. For medical reasons, I have to avoid first-person perspective games with firearms. By generically categorizing games, at least in my experience, is really helpful for me. I mean, it sucks to miss out on SO many great games, and generalizing is not really a useful or popular thing, but that interface is a real threat to me that I have to avoid…

  6. Are there any lists of games that are categorized by their aesthetics? If not, I suppose we can all start adding tags to the games on Steam.

  7. I love point-and-click adventure games for abnegation, as you can make it on your own pace. And even sometimes just stop to enjoy the graphics and music.

  8. Man, you people are amazing. I know this video (amongst others) is old, but I've only recently been introduced to the channel yet it's like you're reading my mind. Even when you take a different approach to a subject compared to what I have, you wind up coming to almost the same conclusion. (The differences are usually that yours are much more coherent, insightful, and well-articulated). I don't know whether to feel validated for having these thoughts or humbled by not arriving at any particularly original or groundbreaking conclusions, lol.

  9. Looking for some insight on how to properly name a game genre (because I like thinking about videogames like that) I found the Game Show video of "genre and you" and this video, and looking at both, it's revealed to me again why I stopped watching that other channel lol.

  10. I've never been more grateful to be a tabletop RPGer. If I understand correctly, Mechanics either don't exist (the physics engine is your brain) or are really basic (leveling up). Almost everything the players do in-character is Dynamics. The DM can't get stuck on Mechanics, so they can focus solely on the relevant stuff.

  11. Can somebody help me? How do you learn how complex mechanics in games work? For example, how do I get to know how the mechanics in a game like starcraft work exacly, or how the leveling on an elder scrolls game works? I may not be expressing myself very well, but what I mean is: remember on that episode of EC where they said that board games were great to analyse because you know how all the rules work? Well that is exacly that, I can't see how all the moving parts work on a game, is there any method I can use to learn those?

  12. Why do you only call keeping up with the Jonses, competition, superiority and domination evolutionary and innate? cooperation, inferiority and submission is just as evolutionary. The other topics on the list is just as innate. Don't equate evolution with killing off the weak. Evolution by natural selection is the process of betting on many horses and failing faster, so you find the design best suited to the current niche. Being a good mom increase offspring chance of survival, the love of pair bonding have evolved through millennia and being curious, social and loving histories, calendar art and porn have too. All the fundamental need you talk about fulfilling have evolved for reasons, even though these reasons are still hidden for us and waiting for an evolutionist to shed light on the topic. There is of cause many caveats to the claim that all aesthetics affordances evolved to increase our rate of survival and as you pointed out in your inhumane design episode, there are some games which hack our innate psychology and use it to spread them self against the users best long term interest. I don't want to sound like a naive panglossian dude, which don't consider the possibility that art just is a parasite, a by-product.

  13. >Portal and Fallout 3 are not considered first person shooters because of their aesthetics

    Dead wrong. Portal is considered a puzzle game because there's no combat and the challenge involves placing portals in the right places after thinking it through. Fallout is considered an RPG because it has a unified world (as opposed to separate levels), stat growth through experience and quests. Those are what you mean by dynamics. Battlefield 3 and Spec Ops: The Line would be a better comparison; highly similar dynamics, starkly different aesthetics.

    You're also wrong in that for a game to be difficult you have to be able to lose. Wario Land 3 sets you back a good portion of a level if the wrong thing hits you, but aside from the lack of a game over screen or death animation that's no different in dynamics from Meat Boy with its frequent checkpoints.

  14. This reminds me of the Gamification Octalysis: a chart of the 8 core drives behind our actions. Epic Meaning, Empowerment, Social Influence, Unpredictability, Avoidance, Scarcity, Ownership and Accomplishment.

  15. 5:50, did you put that there? Or did you just not notice it and put it in both are funny though knowing you guys it's probably the former.

  16. This is a great video on the questions that I always think about: why do people enjoy the games they do? What type of "fun" do certain games provide? Why is a game a 10/10 for one person, but 6.5/10 for someone else?

    I'd love more videos on the topic!!!

  17. where would you put, Another World? Fantasy or Narrative. I know the game doesn't have a driven narrative but it has a lot of atmosphere and cutscenes

  18. How to say the core aesthetic of the incredible machine is expression? I think it should be challenge.
    Do you mean the self design level part?

  19. I'd say Animal Crossing is a classic example of Abnegation – it's Valium for gamers who've had a bad day. 🙂

  20. I remember learning it this way, but I always thought of it as a pyramid or like a log problem (lol) like (for developers) it goes:
    You think of the Dynamics you want and how you want the players to feel during the players interaction with the dynamics (which is part of the aesthetics) then you create the mechanics to create the Dynamics so on and so forth. I'm not saying its wrong or anything like that and I'm just starting out so i "have no room to talk/not an expert yet." but just offering another way of thinking about M.D.A
    Thanks for reading 🙂

  21. I actually read that paper and used it in a talk. But their list of aspects that make a game "fun" was pretty incomplete. I wouldn't really call them asthetics.

  22. So PoE is challenge-discovery with aspects of cooperation(if you trade or party) and abnegation( if you play ALOT)

  23. One of your best videos to date!
    Curious though, what are the other "genres" James has added beyond these eight?

  24. I really did not like the cartoon animation in this one all the other ones are good but this artist is just doesn't feel right it looks too like childish even though it is cartoonish always this is just more lazy

  25. You say developpers build their games up from the mechanics. So if I'm designing my game down starting from the aesthetics, am I doing it wrong ?
    I can't help but deeply geel the need to know what dynamic my mechanic will serve in order to choose these mechanics; and similarly, need to know what aesthetic the dynamics will serve in order to figure out what dynamics to choose.

    I'd love to see a more in-depth episode about how players perceive the MDA chain, and how developpers should build their way through this chain.

  26. portal is a First person puzzle Yes

    You can categorize them way more than the basic and its important so players know what they are on to

    There is some abstract games that are hard to categorize, but we must go deep : D

  27. I realised that my fav casual game, Meadow, hits 4 of the aesthetics – despite being a walking sim with like two and a half actual game mechanics. It's sense pleasure (music, sound design and views), fellowship (communication and teamwork with other players), discovery (what's in that cave I've never seen befo- ohh wooow!), and abnegation (you can spend hours galloping across the fields to relax).

  28. Dear ExtraCredit team,
    It’s been more than A year that I listen to you. And you repeatedly blow my mind.
    You guys are awesome.

  29. This doesn't make mention of a gaming experience that I seek constantly. Growth or progress or something like this. I want my character to get "stronger" and to feel that way (dynamic enemy levels ruin this. I need to be able to go back to a starting area and destroy everything with ease or I'm not really stronger.) Or I want to build a town. Or Stardew Valley.

  30. Yes. All of this.
    Please go into as much detail as possible on each subdivision that you said you might go into more detail on.

  31. I just reversed back to this video from several videos ahead of this one. I did this because I had a MIND BLOWED moment that I had to share. While watching this video (or to be more precise, this entire series of videos for the past 6 hours straight) I have been playing Assassin's Creed Origins. Bear in mind, that game came out 5.5 YEARS after this video. If you are at all familiar with Assassin's Creed games, you might be wondering how I manage to enjoy both this video series and that game simultaneously. The truth is I'm not doing any story content. I'm just running around, levelling up, doing crafting, and taking pictures. While this video was playing I didn't think anything about its contents. It wasn't until several videos later when I got up to take a bathroom break and make some food, that I had an astounding realization that this video (the one I am commenting on, not the one I was watching prior to getting up) perfectly described the aesthetic that was drawing me in to the game while listening to a video about aesthetics and how they describe games. The video correctly stated that Assassin's Creed games (in general) have Mystery as a core aesthetic, but that wasn't what was keeping me engaged in this activity. In fact, it was abnegation, an aesthetic that would never cross most people's minds as even being part of an Assassin's Creed game. Yet, there I was: performing tasks on autopilot because my mind was primarily engaged with following along with what the video was trying to tell me, but I wasn't simply watching the video because performing such tasks in video games is trivial to me and getting them done while also engaging with another form of media helps me relax further. Despite this video being more than half a decade old, it correctly identified a personal core aesthetic of why I am drawn to this game, one which isn't even an accepted core aesthetic of the game by most definitions…

    Maybe this seems like something obvious to you, but I seriously have goosebumps from this. As for my point of sharing such a subjective experience? These people (Extra Credits) are the only video game media source I have never found I disagreed with. I disagree with EVERYONE eventually, and it still hasn't happened for me to them. If this keeps up, I need to donate to their show or something, because they are so worth it.

  32. 3.42 those don't exist anymore….

    I didn't know they existed when they were still active but most "survival" "vanilla" "creative" servers have been replaced with a load of minigamdz

  33. Someone told me the other day that Metroid Prime was an fps rather than a metroidvania simply because the mechanics were wildly different than the games that defined the metroidvania genre.
    I need to show him this.

  34. I would further break down “challenge” into mental and skill challenge games. Dark Souls has a very different kind of challenge than Professor Layton, but both are definitely challenge-oriented games.

  35. Bro Im taking a media game studies class and I had been lost for 4 weeks before the exam. Just helped a ton 😂 THANK U

  36. The problem is that the stuff talked about here tell you absolutely nothing about a game. Say you're really into games that "make you feel like a marine". As mentioned that'd be fantasy. But then you get games that fill an entirely different fantasy. Say…. being a chef or a fashion designer. The people interested in one of those games will absolutely not be interested in the other game.

    Whereas movie genres it's almost always the case that you enjoy a variety of things within the genre. People who like comedy movies will enjoy all kinds of comedies. People who enjoy romance will enjoy all sorts of romance movies. This idea is why so many movies now have a romance subplot and a bit of action, so that fans of both will still find things in the movie to enjoy, even if the movie is neither of those genres.

  37. Although I don't agree 100% with you, you had some solid arguments in here. However, your argument about "companies should stop making clones of other games by stop copying their mechanics" won't eliminate clones. It would actually make clones in which the aesthetics from other games, not the game mechanics, would be cloned.

  38. @7:25 Actually as someone who is trans it's interesting how the expression aesthetic interacts with my transition.

  39. 1:45–1:57
    Shigeru Miyamoto knows what you mean

    from wikipedia:
    "Miyamoto figures out if a game is fun for himself. He says that if he enjoys it, others will too. He elaborates, citing the conception of the Pokémon series as an example, "And that's the point – Not to make something sell, something very popular, but to love something, and make something that we creators can love"

    and results speak for themselves…

  40. This idea is pretty shit as a way of defining games. The last category is horribly vague as it's just "relaxation", but isn't that every game? It also seems to classify games like harvest moon, animal crossing, style savvy, and minecraft as the same "genre". And if the appeal of games is really only one or two of those, effectively every game will be the same "genre". Which is massively unhelpful. It's an extreme disservice to people with more feminine interests.

    While I'd agree these are good motivators for why people approach games and play them, I think it's pretty terrible as a way of defining game types and genres. "Action" isn't a reason you watch movies. "romance" isn't a reason you watch movies. Yet, they are genres. "sci-fi" isn't a reason for reading a book or watching a movie. And yet, all of these are genres. It seems to me the point of the genre is to tell you what sort of media it is. What it contains as a large scope, so you have an idea what you're getting into. Romance movies are focused on romance. Action movies on action. Why you choose to watch such a movie is largely irrelevant. Who cares whether you like action movies because they get your blood pumping or whether you like to zone out while watching them? People do things for a variety of reasons.

    Minecraft is a good example as you mentioned. Saying it's "all genres" is stupid and useless. We know what minecraft is: it's a creative survival sandbox game. And people will approach minecraft for the same reasons they approach other creative survival sandbox games. People who like the survival elements of minecraft will also like games like don't starve. However people going for the creative stuff won't find much enjoyment in don't starve and would instead prefer a game like animal crossing. But it's absurd to say that don't starve and animal crossing are the same genre, simply because people may enjoy the fact that they're open.

    It's better to describe games mechanically, as that allows for the best description of what the player is actually getting. People do have mechanics preferences, and the mechanics are largely the focus of why people play games.

    Someone who plays FPS games like call of duty wouldn't play a game like company of heroes or a tactics game like fire emblem, or hell even an action rpg, simply because you say "well you get to be a hero in them". No, they go to FPS games because they like them mechanically, and the mechanics create a gameplay and way of playing that the person enjoys. However those mechanics may also create other ways for people to play and enjoy.

    Sorry but rockband, eve online, and call of duty are entirely different games with no overlap. Calling them the same genre is simply wrong. While yes, you "fill a role" and play out a fantasy, that doesn't actually describe the content of the game. Likewise there may be players who don't play rockband to be a "rock star" but may just enjoy the technical challenge, or the music. Placing it in an entirely different genre. Dividing categories up like this is functionally useless, as the games really share nothing in common other than broad generalities.

    Someone who likes rockband or guitar hero though, for example, may enjoy other rhythm games which function similarly mechanically. Even if those games have nothing to do with being a famous rock star. Lots of rhythm games remove that "fantasy as X" idea and still find the same rhythm game audience.

    We should ultimately have a two tier genre system. One for mechanics (how you play) and one for aesthetic (framing of mechanics and what it appears as). For example take the rhythm game osu. The aesthetic is neutral and lacks any defining traits. However you can wrap this in a secret agent story line and come up with elite beat agents, or you can wrap it in a more feminine princess aesthetic and end up with princess debut. Mechanically the games are all very similar, but thematically/aesthetically they're very different.

    Harvest Moon and Rune Factory are another good example. Harvest Moon you play as a regular farmer. Rune Factory you play as a soldier or king or w/e and actually traverse dungeons as well as farm. Both are mechanically very similar (the farming is the core part of the game) but their aesthetics are pretty different.

    Games that share aesthetic but differ mechanically are easy to find. Just look at war games. You have WW2 FPS games, and then you have WW2 RTS games. Entirely different mechanically with entirely different playerbases. But thematically identical.

    Some people may choose games based on aesthetic/theme, while others may choose on mechanics, while some may choose on both. But to try and separate games based on "why people play them" is a bit silly and ends up with things like saying princess debut is the same genre as call of duty. Which is simply silly.

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