Making Souls-Like A Genre Might Actually End Up Hurting it

The latest Game Maker's Toolkit investigates the Souls-like phenomenon.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I’m a little hesitant to say that genre naming has anything to do with the patterns discussed here. The games clearly descended from Dwarf Fortress follow the same pattern, despite there never being a genre called the “Dwarf Fortress-like”: Dwarf Fortress becomes popular, there come a lot of obvious clones (Towns, Gnomoria, Maia, Spacebase DF-9, etc), and eventually we get to the “colony management sim” which includes more diverse games like Rimworld and Oxygen Not Included.

Bruno brings up a good point re: ignoring the structures and (i think) material conditions around certain genres, and i was feeling this a lot not only about the roguelike argument, but about immersive sims as well. to me it feels like a slightly idealized perspective to think that the reason something like Prey and the Bioshock series feel similar is because the developers hold Deus Ex 1 as some artistic canon, rather than big-budget studios thinking that FPS games with alternate pathways and cool skills might sell better than FPS games with just guns and linear levels.

souls-likes i think are in a very unique position because Dark Souls 1 in general feels like it didn’t stagnate game design as much as it stagnated games discussion, to the point where people see an armet-type helmet in a videogame and their immediate reaction is “cool dark souls reference”. in that way i think the last 6 years of the way people talk about any sort of 3rd person action game has done way more for canonizing DS1 than people naming a genre “souls-like”. a lot of times it feels like people seeking out patterns themselves or maybe overstating the importance of certain game elements.

and then finally this is only kinda related but does anyone else feel like games have a weird problem with categories? i might not be paying attention to the right things but i feel like this is an unique medium in terms of people being super rigid about whether X is Y or if Z is a thing, etc. like all the “are games art Y/N” or “is a walking simulator a game Y/N” or “is Hyper Light Drifter a zelda or a dark souls” questions that are raised with an expectation of a binary answer without nuisance.