Semiotics aside, other arbitrary concepts float around. In grasping at categorization,
some gamers conveniently include such requirements as flat 2D painted backgrounds
and a point-&-click interface, while others insist that it should run on
five-year-old systems or be played only on the PC. Such misconstrued thinking
can only serve to corner and suffocate otherwise viable new ideas and applications
conceptually, creatively, technologically, and commercially. While 2D graphics
and a mouse-only interaction may be desirable to some, how is it that games
like Gabriel Knight 3 (freeform player controlled camera) and Broken Sword:
The Sleeping Dragon (real time 3D, console friendly, and direct control interface)
can still be accepted as adventure games? And don't you have to upgrade your
computer every few years anyway, for reasons besides playing modern games? These
kinds of definitive proposals are akin to not seeing the forest for the trees.
They're also flat out dumb arguments.
How is using your intelligence to strategically plan and execute your mission any different from logic puzzles to get from one place to another? Both demand you use your brain. Left - Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. Right - realMyst.
But the worst of the lot resort to petty snobbery. Self-righteous, self-proclaimed
veterans believe in the intellectualistic supremacy of puzzles that require
a PhD in practically everything to solve, and are quick to point it out. But
where is it etched permanently that you must possess the combined IQs of Einstein,
Stephen Hawking, and Sherlock Holmes just to figure out a challenge in Myst?
Why should that be a main qualifier? It's been argued that patience is actually
more valuable in this case than sheer brute noggin. But I'll tell you one thing,
I'd like to see those same snobs not try using intelligence to win an insanely
complicated real time battle in Command & Conquer: Generals, or figure out
which team members to choose on the next mission in Knights of The Old Republic
based on individual skills, or plan their cunning moves second-by-second to
successfully eliminate the targets in Hitman 2 with surgical precision and elegance.
In other words, get over yourselves already! You keep holding your heads that
high, you'll get a nosebleed. Sheer intelligence is not a requisite exclusive
to adventure games and can certainly apply to other genres. Sometimes, being
a humble Philistine and some patience are all you need.
Instead, as an antidote to all this moldy dogma, I propose the idea of abstraction.
That's right, the good old technique of blurring the lines, making it fuzzy
while retaining the essence. How so? Back to the charming Jack Allin:
"By 'description', I just mean 'a definition based on what we've seen
SO FAR'. But not 'a definition for the way it MUST be forever and ever, amen.'
It's just semantics, but I'm just trying to allow for the possibility that the
genre will continue to expand in ways that push the boundaries of how we understand
the term today."
See how painless that was?
And here is my own 'description': "An adventure game is a game in which
first and foremost contains: a very strong and coherent story or narrative structure,
sharply developed characterization (of people, places, and/or things), a clearly
defined set of goals, challenges that require and emphasize thought and logic
reasoning, and elements of exploration and discovery." Of course, that
could mean practically any game. But, the trick is to throw in a bit of Jack's
insight, basing all this on "...what we've seen so far.." ,
and on Evan's (*ahem*, Justice Potter Stewart's) wisdom of "...know[ing]
it when I see it...". And voila! What we end up with is, um
mutt, but a very nice cuddly one - structured yet porous, defined yet still
like a filter, anticipating modifications and expansiveness but ultimately staying
true to itself. And if you were paying attention, nowhere in this amalgamated
'definition' can be found ridiculous sentiments like '2D backgrounds only',
or 'point-&-click only', or 'egregiously stuck-up over-intellectualized'