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Learning to enjoy a genre you hate… the follow-up

Gamingtodaynews1g - Learning to enjoy a genre you hate... the follow-up
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Basically a part 2 of this right here. Same author and almost the same date. Huh. For those not bothering to read the previous thread as it is a bit long: I tried to make a case for "learning to enjoy" games, sharing my experience with the first hours of Dragon Age Origins and other RPGs.

Anyways, point is that during this year I've tried to keep dwelling outside my comfort zone as I mostly try to and… well, some conclusions were drawn, even if I didn't finish the games.

I had a theory going on either in the comments, or on the original thread: that we don't dislike or hate genres per se, but more accurately speaking, we have actually less tolerance for gameplay (or general) clichés that happen within said genres. With that said, two genres stood out very clearly to me when considering this idea: your typical RPG game and your typical sports game that doesn't involve racing or radical sports. I can't speak for sports games yet, but when it comes to RPGs… this theory may just have some foundation. However the path is always met with resistance no matter what game you pick. But it may be possible… even if just a bit… that certain games can act as a gateway to a certain genre, this case being the RPG genre, although I'd say it's valid for any genre you can think of.

Point is, looking even back further I can safely say that yes: you can indeed learn to enjoy a genre! It's definitely not something for everybody though… and it is also very possible that most of the time you'll find yourself limited to one or two subgenres first, before actually being able to enjoy the genre in general or be able to tell which subgenres in the genre you actually appreciate, regardless of whether you finish the games or not. We all know someone that literally only plays RPGs, or only likes RPGs, yet never finishes them. Hell, that someone may very well be you for that matter.

And this is key when trying to get a feel for a new genre or subgenre even: you gotta check what you really click with and be willing to take a risk, or admit that you may have some very wrong misconceptions about a certain genre. In my case for RPGs the major breakthrough were the Souls games: finally an RPG that isn't bound by that damned, dated turn-based system! Although they did already exist… but I wouldn't discover them until much later. Anyways, at least I could say that I appreciated at least one subgenre of RPGs, that subgenre being modern ARPG (I know that the ARPG label springs games like KOTOR to mind therefore I've added "modern", I've already covered that in a previous post about my disdain for the souls-like label). So we have a gateway into the genre… but we need more.

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And this is where this concept of "gateway games", which I've appropriated from board gaming, comes to great use. I may have hated RPGs in general. But I did play Age of Empires, which is strategy. Which led me to play Civilization 4, which is turn-based strategy (and 4X as well) and Advance Wars. Which in turn probably made me more amicable towards games like Shining Force, Divinity: Original Sin and Arc: Twilight of the Spirits, which all fit quite nicely in the SRPG mold!

And with the right voices and suggestions, I'd eventually try out older RPG games , some more hybrid than others, such as Deus Ex and Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines (a personal favorite of mine), even if they still fit the ARPG subgenre. But no matter, because all of this experience laid the foundation for me to eventually be more open to games such as Dragon Age Origins, Planescape Torment and Baldur's Gate. Every single one of these 3 was disappointing in terms of combat (personally speaking of course), but the atmosphere, sidequests, characters, plot and ways of solving problems without the use of violence pulled me in greatly. I'm yet to finish them, but I will play through them as they have made a great impression on me after all of the homework.

Surprisingly enough, I started to feel less enthusiastic about games that I thought I'd love to death: Dragon's Dogma sports great combat, but feels lacking in other areas, while CrossCode feels just as good as games like Bastion, but the amazing questlines that add to the lore and worldbuilding found in most games I've mentioned above… they're nowhere to be found: only boring "kill X enemies, bring material Y and Z" quests that add nothing to the lore are present.

In short: I am confident in saying that a genre I used to despise is now a genre I can look at positively and also be comfortable with to the point of knowing what kind of RPGs I will enjoy and which ones I will not. Hell, for all my talk from one year ago about despising turn-based combat and preferring story and lore, I sure got surprised by the little of Persona 3 FES I've played: I couldn't care less for the worldbuilding and the social sim elements. Just give me that dungeon crawling and turn-based combat any time of the freaking day!

Have you had similar experiences? Or do you feel that my take is somewhat incomplete (and it is) and feel that something else needs to be taken into account?

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