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Ex-Sony Boss Shawn Layden Says Games Should Be Classified By How They "Make You Feel"

Hawke502

Member
But we already do that to some extent? We have classifications based on gameplay (tps, fps, rpg, action adventure, platformer...) and classifications based on what the game is trying to convey (horror, high fantasy, dark fantasy, sci fi...).

The point of genres is to find more stuff that you like, so if like RPGs and want to know more games that have similar systems, i just search for more RPGs.
 
I feel something Shawn...yes Yes, I feel something...SOMETHING I tell ya....SUM - THING!!!

 
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Flutta

My tears. Exclusive to gamepass. Forever.
Lmao what a wanker. Whats next, that science and facts should also be based on feelings ? Oh right thats also a thing these day. Damn snowflakes 😂
 

GHG

Member
Fun.

It doesn't matter if it's an RPG, FPS, TPS, or Sports game.

I play them for fun.

So he wants games labeled as to how they make you feel, but the feeling is fun?

🤪

It's obvious he's talking about plot and story, not gameplay.

I guess the other feeling most people get is guilt for buying a game but not finishing it because they don't enjoy the gameplay.

"fun" is purely an emotional response to audiovisual stimulus. Your definition of what is fun will be different to somebody else's and to deny that is short sighted.

Some people find souls games fun, others do not. Some people find racing/flight simulation games fun, others do not. Some people find sports games fun, others do not. Some people find visual novel games fun, others do not.

And I think that's what he's getting at, the feeling you get when you play the game is not talked about enough.

There is a reason why you will hear people saying "I liked game X, will I like game Y", or "if you liked game Y then you should check out game X". In those cases the games being talked about often evoke a similar emotional response while not necessarily being the same genre from a strict gameplay standpoint.

Take Hades and Returnal for example. At a glance they look like completely different types of game, one is a 3rd person shooter and the other is an isometric slasher but yet they both manage to create a similar emotional response for those who play them. It's not because of the gameplay or the type of gameplay that they are similar, it's purely because of the emotional loop those games create.

Layden has a good point here but it's very poorly explained. However I'd also say there's a reason the emotional side is not talked about much - it's a very personal thing and will differ wildly from person to person. You don't want a scenario where people are being told how they should feel when playing a particular game, the feeling coming naturally is what makes certain highly evocative games so rewarding (like the first time a souls game "clicks" for a player for example). If you create bias you can ruin that.
 
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To me the main category for his former employer's games would be bored since i hate cinematic games. This is just stupid, you can't categorize games for everybody by subjective empotions.
 

TheGrat1

Member
Is he on lithium? You can not predict how a game will make someone feel, dude. Someone might see a brutal torture scene and laugh at it. Categorizing games by their genre is a tried and true system. If it aint broke, don't fix it.
 

ZywyPL

Banned
Fun.

It doesn't matter if it's an RPG, FPS, TPS, or Sports game.

I play them for fun.

So he wants games labeled as to how they make you feel, but the feeling is fun?

🤪

It's obvious he's talking about plot and story, not gameplay.

I guess the other feeling most people get is guilt for buying a game but not finishing it because they don't enjoy the gameplay.


I think "engagement" is the better word here. When you're having fun you're engaged into the gameplay and the on-screen action, fair and simple, but for example in puzzle games you don't have as much fun per se as you're simply engaged into solving those puzzles. Same for horror games, where "fun" is the last word I'd personally describe the genre as, but you're engage nevertheless into the world and its atmosphere and mysteries. Roguelike/Soulslike titles - again, it's an exhausting experience rather than strictly fun, but you're engaged into the challenge they introduce, that's the whole point of those kind of games. Board/cards games, especially the online ones vs other opponents - the same deal, you're focused on the next move, rather than having sole fun of moving the cards on the deck.. But yeah, at the end of the day video games are an entertainment industry, there's no need to imply they are something more than that.
 

M1chl

Currently Gif and Meme Champion
If films get labels like comedy, drama, terror, etc… why not games?
I guess because game writing is not "there" not the mention, you only watch films, in games there are multitude of how it plays and from accessibility standpoint, these categories for games are better.
 

WitchHunter

Member
It's not about what you're pressing, but more about what you're feeling.


Video games being described by common genre tropes or core mechanics is holding the industry back, believes Shawn Layden. Former Sony Interactive Entertainment America CEO thinks it’s better to classify games by how they actually make you feel rather than by the buttons you press.

“One of the blockers we have in the video game business is that we continue to describe our content by its core mechanic. That’s a shooting game. That’s a racing game,” explains Layden. The far better approach, in his opinion, might be just to tell the audience what exact emotions this or that game will offer to you.

Layden’s point is that some projects will lighten your day or make you laugh, whereas some will make you feel a bit more grim, like The Last of Us Part 2. While stories like those found in Spider-Man: Miles Morales may make us feel a bit more hopeful/



“We need to begin to describe our titles, our intellectual property, our creative output, more in the context of how it’s going to make you feel,” the ex-Sony boss says. However, Layden does not propose completely abandoning the usual genre classifications for games. He just notes that it does not necessarily have to be limited to boundaries drawn by gameplay mechanics. “We need to look at it more holistically rather than just the execution of a button press.”

Recently, Shawn Layde also shared his thoughts on gaming subscription services like Xbox Game Pass in a world of ever-growing video game development costs. He believes the approach is simply unsustainable for blockbuster releases — the main drivers of PlayStation Studios today.
He was onto something, tho the problems are elsewhere. Iindies give you 95% of the creativity. AAA titles are held back by politics, global agenda, economics, very bad tooling. This all gives you less and less creativity, because trying out new things are a high risk factor, plus dick measuring contests at a company level. If they can't innovate, leave the premises, which they won't cause agenda, politics, mission, money, control, whatever.

There are even companies in the gaming arena that are famous for hindering the evolution of the web and they do the same in this very space. There are places where whole groups of highly creative people, or projects are shredded and/or only kept so other companies can't get their hands on them.

The games are like held back by something that is not on the surface level (like dark matter in physics), maybe because of fear that people will get ideas, and ideas are frightening for control freaks.

Btw when was the last time you had a good laugh? Humor is almost entirely missing from games. And under humor I'm not talking about canned/stupefied standup comedy level joking, farting and pre recorded laughs. Even dialogues are mostly terrible. Disco Elysium showed how famished ppl were. Creativity had a much wider space in the golden era (80s- early 2000s) than now and that shows that all these shiny new tools, personal agendas and power politics are hindering progress, and that's why indies flourish - although indies have their own set of problems.
 

kingfey

Banned
He was onto something, tho the problems are elsewhere. Iindies give you 95% of the creativity. AAA titles are held back by politics, global agenda, economics, very bad tooling. This all gives you less and less creativity, because trying out new things are a high risk factor, plus dick measuring contests at a company level. If they can't innovate, leave the premises, which they won't cause agenda, politics, mission, money, control, whatever.

There are even companies in the gaming arena that are famous for hindering the evolution of the web and they do the same in this very space. There are places where whole groups of highly creative people, or projects are shredded and/or only kept so other companies can't get their hands on them.

The games are like held back by something that is not on the surface level (like dark matter in physics), maybe because of fear that people will get ideas, and ideas are frightening for control freaks.

Btw when was the last time you had a good laugh? Humor is almost entirely missing from games. And under humor I'm not talking about canned/stupefied standup comedy level joking, farting and pre recorded laughs. Even dialogues are mostly terrible. Disco Elysium showed how famished ppl were. Creativity had a much wider space in the golden era (80s- early 2000s) than now and that shows that all these shiny new tools, personal agendas and power politics are hindering progress, and that's why indies flourish - although indies have their own set of problems.
Games aren't like movies. You create the experience, unlike movies, which are directors experience.
Just because a game makes you happy, doesn't mean it will make others happy.

Its why games don't have the same category as movies.

When you have all kind of playing your game, it will lose what it stands for. You will find that your game has several feelings to people.

Call of duty, skyrim, gtav, legend of Zelda. These are gaming that can't be described by mere feelings. You wont experience the true game mode, if people tell you what it is.
 

Clear

Gold Member
"Halo isn't a shooter. It's an inspiring epic that makes me feel like a man when I play it."
-14 year old girl


Feelings are EXTREMELY subjective. How could you possibly know how the game makes me feel, and vice versa? And how would that be a more accurate description that actual genres like "shooter", "jrpg", et cetera?

Reactions are subjective but INTENTIONS are not. PURPOSE IS ABSOLUTE.

If you make a comedy that nobody finds funny, you've failed. Same as if you made a theme park "white-knuckle" ride so anodyne that it lulled the rider to sleep you would have failed.

Layden is 100% correct. Its about crafting an experience, and that experience can be fairly easily quantified in terms of the feelings it intends to evoke in the player.
 
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This already exists to an extent with user created tags for games on Steam like 'nostalgia' and 'relaxing'. I think that's a good solution without ham-fisting feelings on to everything.
 
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EnzoArt

Member
"Halo isn't a shooter. It's an inspiring epic that makes me feel like a man when I play it."
-14 year old girl


Feelings are EXTREMELY subjective. How could you possibly know how the game makes me feel, and vice versa? And how would that be a more accurate description that actual genres like "shooter", "jrpg", et cetera?
LOL
 

Yoshi

Headmaster of Console Warrior Jugendstrafanstalt
I get why he’s saying. The quality is what makes you play a game, and the feelings you get are what makes it good (or bad).
I buy games for the emotion they evoke, which is fun. However, what is fun to me greatly differs to what is fun e.g. to Kagey K Kagey K (who I think aims for the same emotion). The difference runs along genre lines. I love platformers, (zelda style) action adventures, arcade racers and Metroidvanias, but I hate fps, tps, sports and racing simulation games. Wouldn't *all* these genres be classified as "fun"? So what's the us of such a genre denominator. You could use thematic genre names (sci fi, drama, fantasy) but this is only very little of what makes us decide what games to buy (I'd say for me it is completely irrelevant). I guess someone who worked with the very hollywood experience oriented Sony may be more inclined to find such descriptors helpful, but for me they would be entirely worthless.
 

Clear

Gold Member
I buy games for the emotion they evoke, which is fun. However, what is fun to me greatly differs to what is fun e.g. to Kagey K Kagey K (who I think aims for the same emotion). The difference runs along genre lines. I love platformers, (zelda style) action adventures, arcade racers and Metroidvanias, but I hate fps, tps, sports and racing simulation games. Wouldn't *all* these genres be classified as "fun"? So what's the us of such a genre denominator. You could use thematic genre names (sci fi, drama, fantasy) but this is only very little of what makes us decide what games to buy (I'd say for me it is completely irrelevant). I guess someone who worked with the very hollywood experience oriented Sony may be more inclined to find such descriptors helpful, but for me they would be entirely worthless.

Why describe something that is immediately visually apparent? I mean do you need a description to tell you the difference between Mario and Halo?
 

WitchHunter

Member
Games aren't like movies. You create the experience, unlike movies, which are directors experience.
Just because a game makes you happy, doesn't mean it will make others happy.

Its why games don't have the same category as movies.

When you have all kind of playing your game, it will lose what it stands for. You will find that your game has several feelings to people.

Call of duty, skyrim, gtav, legend of Zelda. These are gaming that can't be described by mere feelings. You wont experience the true game mode, if people tell you what it is.
And how does this connect to what I wrote? :D Btw what you are saying is at max. bull-fucking-shit. If you could create the experience for yourself people wouldn't play games because they would do it in real life. How can you create the experience if the tools or options you are presented are mediocre? Hm?
 

Zannegan

Member
I can only speak for myself, but seems silly. While a game's tone could turn me off, for me, mechanics are king. I tend to like certain genres and dislike others regardless of whether they are wacky or serious, cartoonish or realistic. Meanwhile, some games that are "grim" in tone appeal to me while others do not.

I could see making tone a part of a game's descriptor (honestly, most of us already do that), but it's way down on the list of things I need to know to decide on a purchase.

Take Hades and Returnal for example. At a glance they look like completely different types of game, one is a 3rd person shooter and the other is an isometric slasher but yet they both manage to create a similar emotional response for those who play them. It's not because of the gameplay or the type of gameplay that they are similar, it's purely because of the emotional loop those games create.
I apologize if my sarcasm detector is broken, but aren't they both from the same genre--rogue-lites--with the same core gameplay loop? And their emotional appeals feel wildly different to me. Hades is borderline farce. Returnal seems to be more psychological horror.
 

Saber

Member
This kinda sounds like an idea coming from someone who doesn't play games at all.

We already have genres to group them, no need for your stupid categories just because you "feel".
 

GHG

Member
I apologize if my sarcasm detector is broken, but aren't they both from the same genre--rogue-lites--with the same core gameplay loop? And their emotional appeals feel wildly different to me. Hades is borderline farce. Returnal seems to be more psychological horror.

Yes they are both rogue like but the point is that from a core gameplay perspective they play very differently. Everything from the perspective to your primary means of taking down enemies.

I'd say that the core emotional loop of these games involves overcoming the challenge of venturing into the unknown and acknowledging the fact that your primary means of progression is through learning. With the exception of competitive multiplayer, rogue likes in general and the Souls games are some of the most emotionally charged experiences you can have in gaming.

When you mention psychological horror I'd say that's more down to the mood/setting rather than the gameplay itself. But I guess that goes back to the point of the emotional response to certain things being different for every player. Some people will find the setting in returnal unsettling whereas others might be numb to it.

Overall I think the topic of "how did this game make me feel" is something that should be discussed more but I don't think it's an area where the creators (or marketing teams) should step in and tell us how we should feel.
 

Yoshi

Headmaster of Console Warrior Jugendstrafanstalt
Why describe something that is immediately visually apparent? I mean do you need a description to tell you the difference between Mario and Halo?
I may need a descriptor to see the difference between Metroid Prime and Halo if I don't know the games and only see screenshots. Or one to see the difference between Mario and Lego Star Wars.
 

fart town usa

Gold Member
Rated B for BETRAYED (CP2077)
Rated D for DISAPPOINTED (Resident Evil 6)
Rated E for EXPLOITED (Nintendo)
Rated WS for WALKING SIMULATOR (Naughty Dog)
 

MHubert

Member
Reactions are subjective but INTENTIONS are not. PURPOSE IS ABSOLUTE.

If you make a comedy that nobody finds funny, you've failed. Same as if you made a theme park "white-knuckle" ride so anodyne that it lulled the rider to sleep you would have failed.

Layden is 100% correct. Its about crafting an experience, and that experience can be fairly easily quantified in terms of the feelings it intends to evoke in the player.
Isn't this exactly how it works now? Action, Horror, Simulation, Strategy etc....

Do you mean that it needs refinement? - maybe having a genre called Excitement, Sorrow & Triumph?
 

ManaByte

Member
Games should be classified on whether or not they help their company make the needed $5 billion a month to be viable.
 

Deft Beck

Member
I think he is doing this to make it easier for investors to understand video games, especially the ones that Sony produces in house.
 

Clear

Gold Member
Isn't this exactly how it works now? Action, Horror, Simulation, Strategy etc....

Do you mean that it needs refinement? - maybe having a genre called Excitement, Sorrow & Triumph?

I'm thinking additional descriptions might be helpful; I mean its always going to be a very blunt instrument without going into excessive detail but I think something more experiential might be useful.

Imagine a sort of equivalent to emotes that give a bit of shading to what's on offer when a generic description based on form and genre doesn't quite cut it.

I guess a good example is the difference between say Uncharted and Last Of Us. Gameplay and presentation are broadly similar despite them being tonally poles apart. Light and Breezy versus Dark and Intense in that example. Maybe an indication of pacing and expected time demands would be useful also?

My reading is that what Layden is getting at is the way games are sold more like appliances than entertainments kinda stands against them being given their fair due as cultural artefacts. Although I guess the more pressing matter is allowing people to more easily pick titles that they will be pleased with and meet their expectations/requirements.
 
It's not about what you're pressing, but more about what you're feeling.


Video games being described by common genre tropes or core mechanics is holding the industry back, believes Shawn Layden. Former Sony Interactive Entertainment America CEO thinks it’s better to classify games by how they actually make you feel rather than by the buttons you press.

“One of the blockers we have in the video game business is that we continue to describe our content by its core mechanic. That’s a shooting game. That’s a racing game,” explains Layden. The far better approach, in his opinion, might be just to tell the audience what exact emotions this or that game will offer to you.

Layden’s point is that some projects will lighten your day or make you laugh, whereas some will make you feel a bit more grim, like The Last of Us Part 2. While stories like those found in Spider-Man: Miles Morales may make us feel a bit more hopeful/



“We need to begin to describe our titles, our intellectual property, our creative output, more in the context of how it’s going to make you feel,” the ex-Sony boss says. However, Layden does not propose completely abandoning the usual genre classifications for games. He just notes that it does not necessarily have to be limited to boundaries drawn by gameplay mechanics. “We need to look at it more holistically rather than just the execution of a button press.”

Recently, Shawn Layde also shared his thoughts on gaming subscription services like Xbox Game Pass in a world of ever-growing video game development costs. He believes the approach is simply unsustainable for blockbuster releases — the main drivers of PlayStation Studios today.
So could Cyberpunk be classified as laxative and nauseous?
 
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