A conventional category that identifies some work (piece of music, game, etc.) as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions.

Genres of games

If you want to distinguish between video games and tabletop games, you would call them (e.g.) "types" of games rather than genres. There are family relations between many types (pervasive games, app-assisted games, or parlour games etc.) and broad knowledge of game genres might be useful for game designers of any type when additional inspiration is needed.

RPG — Role-Playing Game, a game where the main focus is assuming the role of a fictional character.

Tabletop RPGs are most often classified according to stories that are told with them. This gives genres similar to books or movies, e.g. comedy, or science-fiction. Game systems also have features which form groups of games, the RPG glossary entry gives a few examples.

Mechanic — A subsystem of the game that regulates interaction with a game state.

Board games might be divided into genres by their (1) traditional usage, or by (2) the main mechanic they employ. In (1) you may end up with just a few categories, like: "abstract games"/"war games" etc. each very broadly applicable with the strongest focus on a cultural context of the game. The option (2) gives us much more genres with new constantly appearing while new mechanics are invented. This approach gives also a lot of potential for "crossovers" (connecting different genres). List of board game mechanics for music might be then treated as a list of board game genres.

Music mess

Constellation — A line-up for a single performance of improvised music.

Criteria for inclusion into a musical genre are all over the place. Even factors like employed instruments (possible constellations), era of popularity, forms used or even themes described (if a genre is song-oriented) do matter.

Within all musical traditions together there are many hundreds of genres treated at different level of detail depending on a context. For example, Wikipedia has rock music defined as a genre of popular music, it sees heavy metal as a genre of rock music and then provides a long list of heavy metal genres. With even less consistency, the whole area of "art music" can surprisingly be treated as a one single genre in some contexts.

Maybe useful to consider are some more general categories that may guide the sorting of musical pieces. It can be done (again according to Wikipedia) in a few ways, for example by forming general groups: folk / art / pop or by estimating the music within three spectra: arousal / valence / depth.

Relations between musical genres and music games

Generally, game pieces are most often considered a broad type of experimental music pieces, where experimental music is considered a broad genre. Never-the-less genres might play many different functions in music games. Here is an overview.

Non-idiomatic music — The genre of "no genre" — free music.

Music games against genres: Many game pieces are loose concepts for improvisation, taking the form of non-idiomatic music. The approach of non-idiomatic playing is to distance itself from limitations of established genres and to look for more freedom in music.

Music game as a genre: "Music-making" might be considered a mechanic, distinguishing music games as a genre of games. In the field of music, game pieces are one of the genre terms applied very loosely, but are quite diverse for this usage (too much of a "crossover").

Music games as genres: Every game might be played in many ways, but all realizations will belong to a same category (a genre?). This usage is not yet common, and would fit only to games with a considerable level of freedom.

Genres as music games: Improvisational genres might have explicit rules (and sometimes they are "fun" to play). Such a treatment works in as diverse areas as bebop jam session or Turkish makam. Music is played out within set constraints, often resulting from socially-sensitive interaction between musicians. Some traditional music has been already considered a 'game-like' activity, for example Inuit (or also Ainu) throat singing in pairs.

Music games with genres: A fun activity of playing same material as a different genre might be incorporated into many full-fledged games. Such an activity of genre-swapping was used by Frank Zappa in improvisation, and by John Zorn, for example in Bezique. Here is a small example list of selected genres that you may use for a lottery.

  • Ambient /
  • Blues /
  • Country /
  • Disco /
  • Electronica /
  • Flamenco /
  • Gospel /
  • Hip-hop music /
  • Industrial /
  • Jazz /
  • K-Pop /
  • Latin /
  • Metal /
  • Noise /
  • Opera /
  • Punk /
  • Reggae /
  • Ska /
  • Trance /

This example will probably need to be adapted to contexts other than "pop perspective". Unfortunately U-Z genres are obscure…
Get it as a printable deck

Music games on genres: Games may be targeted for the specific genre or let you choose one and let the game be played in its context. As many of today's music is done idiomatically, the demand for such games might be higher than the supply. We have a tag for games that may be played in-genre. Djent game even takes it's name from a genre, using the most characteristic element of it (polyrhythms over 4/4) and will generate a simple in-genre piece, when instruments are chosen fittingly.

Insert game — A game easy to be made a part of other musical structures.

Genre-fitting music games: Insert games can be played within another piece of music. Some genres are more open than others, and therefore more encompassing towards inserting a game during a genred piece, attitude towards improvisation being the most important factor.

Genres of music games

Finally we can talk about genres of music games, e.g. "conducted", "graphic-score-based". This will be more useful in the future than at the current stage, but our page tags already show some promising categories, that are both general and specific enough.

If you think anything should be added to this subpage, please drop a hint or a link for future editors.

Unless stated otherwise Content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. See licensing details