Trying to make sense out of groups.

Over the years, we’ve accumulated several groups for linking games together. Some of these are properly labeled such as “Super Mario Bros series”, others are open to dispute such as “”. Basically what we need for a lot of these are standard definitions that are listed in the FAQ/Help for these items. For instance, what’s the difference between a “clone” and a “variant”? I’m not sure there is one, but some groups are named “Breakout Variants” and another is named “Donkey Kong clones”.

I would like to see a separation of the group listings we have. Right now I’m thinking there needs to be some base standardization. The following seem obvious to me

  • Direct Sequels (or Sequels or Series)… every game that’s in a series should be part of this . One question is, can a series just be a bunch of games under the same label (Final Fantasy) or does it need to be a continuing story that references earlier events and characters (Wing Commander)?
  • Indirect Sequels (or Universe)… games part of a larger universe such as Metaltech or Super Mario. This would basically include games and all their spinoffs in cases where gameplay and setting is drastically different (for instance Suikoden’s main RPGs and it’s side stories)
  • Common Themes. Such as Westerns or Alice in Wonderland or World War II. Depending on the exact context of the theme, some of these might be eligible to promotion to genre anyway.
  • All other groups

Looking over dozens and dozens of these game entries easy day, I’m also tempted to switch them all to the format “Series: Tekken” or “Universe: Battletech” or “Theme: Alice in Wonderland”

In any case, what’s most important is we need better definitions of the requirements for a game to be a series, a variant, etc. There are altogether to many groups labeled such as “Aerobiz Games” or “Merchant Prince Games”, and while that’s not confusing on it’s own… when it’s placed in a big databases along with the aforementioned suffixes, it’s a bit hard to tell what’s what and why. I think several of these choices are unfortunately based on the preferences of the submitter and approver. Luckily it’s all just text and labelling… in the grand scheme of things, this is easy to fix. We just need a standard.

Sometimes I read what I wrote and think I sound like a bad librarian. Without the training of course :). The problem is the game group linking is complicated and messy. The relief from that statement is that they’re also very useful and allow people to find out about all kinds of major linkages (“Oh, The Sting! is the sequel to The clue!, I never would have known that myself”). Which is why I’d like to improve the presentation and comprehensibility of some of this stuff.

Of course as usual, any truely creative achievement seeks to avoid the constraints of categorization.

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