Serious Game Classification

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The classification of videogames, a complex problem...

The classification of videogames is far from being a new idea. Many "empirical classifications" systems already exist, and are actually used by videogame industry, critics and gamers. However, even if these many systems are undoubtedly an important part of the common videogame culture, they are unfortunately not suited for the unified classification of the whole released videogames.

Indeed, these "empirical" systems closely follow the evolution of videogames: new categories appear, others are removed, and their definitions keep on changing though their frontiers remain unclear. Moreover, there is no true overall classification system recognized by everyone: these classifications are subjective and mostly shared by small group of users, for a defined set of videogames.
Several attempts to build an unified system from these empirical classifications does exists, but none of these academic-based or designer-based systems succeeded to produce a recognised classification yet...

From this lack of videogame classification suited for every released title, raise the need to explore new classification approaches.

A multiple criteria based system

This site proposes a videogame classification system based on multiple criteria: gameplay, purpose, market and target audience, alongside with an user-contributed keywords system. From these criteria, each game can be classified in an overall category.

This site features datasheets gathering classification-related information for as many games as possible, alongside with a set of search engines based on the above criteria.
This site is build as a collaborative online tool: user's contributions are the key of both the classification of new games and the data update for already classified games.

The multiple criteria system featured in this site is the result of an academic research project conducted by Ludoscience. The current section also presents a detailed explanation of the classification guidelines.

Gameplay as a classification criteria

Among the various criteria used in this classification system, gameplay is obviously the most complex and most interesting one.
This word, whose exact definition remains unclear, is commonly cited by players as key to define the inner quality of a game. In a pragmatic way, gameplay could be defined as "a set rules defining goals associated to rules offering means and constraints to reach them".

However, unlike the rules of boardgames, videogames rules are hardly stated explicitly. They need to be "discovered" while playing, through a "trial-and-error" process. Hence, besides the other criteria, this site highlights the "rules" which define the gameplay core of each title.

This analysis is based on an study that tends to indicate that the gameplay core of videogames can be represented from a limited set of "core rules". We call each one of these ten "core rules" a GamePlay brick, as explained in the video below:

N.B.: This video was made in July 2007, and shows a non-definitive classification system.
Among other differences, you may notice that the "Block" brick is no longer part of the actual system.