Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

The world of video games is a vast and diverse one, with countless genres catering to all sorts of players. One genre that has gained significant popularity in recent years is the survival genre. But is survival a subgenre? This is a question that has sparked a heated debate among gamers and game developers alike.

Survival games are typically characterized by their focus on survival mechanics, such as gathering resources, crafting tools, and fending off hostile creatures. Some popular examples of survival games include The Forest, Rust, and Don’t Starve. But some argue that survival is not a subgenre, but rather a set of mechanics that can be incorporated into any genre.

In this article, we will explore both sides of the debate and examine the key factors that define a genre. We will also look at how survival mechanics have evolved over time and how they have influenced other genres. So, whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, join us as we dive into the world of survival games and the great subgenre debate.

What is a Subgenre?

Definition and Characteristics

A subgenre is a term used to describe a specific type of game that falls within a larger genre. While genres define the broad categories of games, such as action or role-playing, subgenres delve deeper into the nuances and variations within those categories.

One key feature that distinguishes a subgenre from a genre is that a subgenre is typically more specific and focused. For example, while the survival horror genre encompasses a wide range of games that blend horror and action elements, the survival horror subgenre refers to a specific type of game that emphasizes survival mechanics and psychological horror.

Another important characteristic of subgenres is that they often emerge from a combination of multiple genres. For instance, survival games can be seen as a combination of the simulation and adventure genres, with elements of exploration, resource management, and survival challenges.

Understanding subgenres is crucial for gamers and game developers alike. For gamers, recognizing subgenres can help them identify games that align with their preferred playstyle or interests. For game developers, understanding subgenres can inform their design choices and help them target specific audiences.

In the context of survival games, the debate over whether it is a subgenre or a distinct genre highlights the ongoing discussions around the nature of subgenres and their boundaries. While some argue that survival games have enough unique characteristics to be considered a separate genre, others contend that they are better understood as a subgenre of adventure or simulation games.

Horror Games: A Genre Overview

Key takeaway: Survival games are a specific category of video games that place players in life-threatening situations where they must struggle to survive. While some argue that survival games are a subgenre of horror games due to similar themes and mechanics, others believe that survival games should not be considered a subgenre due to the lack of distinct story elements and diverse gameplay mechanics. The debate over whether survival games are a subgenre or a standalone genre continues, but survival games remain popular among gamers who enjoy the challenge of struggling to survive in hostile environments.

The Evolution of Horror Games

Early Years: Text-Based Adventures and Pixelated Nightmares

The evolution of horror games can be traced back to the early days of home computing, where text-based adventures and simple pixelated graphics paved the way for the terrifying experiences that would follow. Games like Haunted House (1981) and Zork (1979) relied on descriptive text and player imagination to create a sense of dread and mystery. These pioneering titles set the stage for more ambitious horror games to come.

The Rise of Survival Horror

In the 1990s, the genre experienced a surge in popularity with the rise of survival horror games, such as Resident Evil (1996) and Silent Hill (1999). These titles introduced a new level of immersion and interaction, blending exploration, puzzle-solving, and terrifying encounters with monsters and other supernatural entities. The focus shifted from simple text-based descriptions to atmospheric audio, detailed environments, and character models, further enhancing the player’s experience.

Modern Horror Games: Innovation and Evolution

As technology advanced, horror games continued to evolve and diversify. The 2000s and 2010s saw a wealth of innovative titles that expanded the genre’s possibilities, such as F.E.A.R. (2005), Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010), and Outlast (2013). These games experimented with new mechanics, such as sanity meters, limited resources, and psychological terror, providing players with fresh challenges and fear-inducing experiences.

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has emerged as a game-changing technology for horror games, with titles like Alien: Isolation (2014) and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017) utilizing VR to create immersive, terrifying worlds. The combination of VR and advanced game engines has allowed developers to create increasingly realistic environments, animations, and enemy designs, pushing the boundaries of what players can experience and endure.

Throughout its evolution, the horror game genre has continuously intertwined with other genres, such as survival games, first-person shooters, and even puzzle games. This blending of genres has given rise to new subgenres, such as survival horror and psychological horror, further enriching the horror game experience and expanding its appeal to a wide range of players.

As the debate over whether survival games constitute a distinct subgenre of horror games continues, it is essential to acknowledge the rich history and diverse array of experiences that have defined the horror game genre. From text-based adventures to modern VR terrors, horror games have come a long way, and their impact on the gaming industry and popular culture continues to grow stronger with each passing year.

The Survival Game Debate

The Case for Survival Games as a Subgenre

Definition of Survival Games

Survival games are a specific category of video games that place players in life-threatening situations where they must struggle to survive. These games often require players to gather resources, build shelter, and fend off dangerous creatures or other players in order to stay alive. The objective is to survive as long as possible in these hostile environments, and often the player must make difficult decisions to stay alive.

Examples of Popular Survival Games

Some popular examples of survival games include:

  • The Forest: a first-person survival horror game set in a dense, dark forest where players must build shelter, gather resources, and fend off hostile creatures to survive.
  • Rust: a multiplayer survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world where players must gather resources, build shelter, and fend off other players to survive.
  • Don’t Starve: a survival game where players must gather resources, craft items, and manage their hunger, sanity, and health to survive in a harsh wilderness.

Reasons why some argue that Survival Games are a subgenre of Horror Games

Some argue that survival games are a subgenre of horror games because they often share similar themes and mechanics. Both genres often involve life-threatening situations, dangerous creatures, and a focus on survival. Additionally, many survival games use elements of horror, such as atmosphere, tension, and jump scares, to create a frightening experience for players. Furthermore, survival games often focus on the psychological aspect of survival, exploring themes of fear, isolation, and desperation, which are also common in horror games.

In conclusion, the debate over whether survival games are a subgenre of horror games is ongoing, but there are certainly strong arguments to be made for their inclusion as such. Whether they are considered a subgenre or not, survival games continue to be popular among gamers who enjoy the challenge of struggling to survive in hostile environments.

The Case Against Survival Games as a Subgenre

  • Counterarguments to the case for survival games as a subgenre
    • Lack of distinct story elements: One argument against classifying survival games as a subgenre is that they do not have a unique narrative element that sets them apart from other genres. While survival games often feature a protagonist struggling to survive in a hostile environment, this is not a distinct enough story element to make it a subgenre.
    • Diverse gameplay mechanics: Another counterargument is that survival games encompass a wide range of gameplay mechanics that cannot be categorized under a single subgenre. For example, some survival games focus on crafting and resource management, while others emphasize exploration and combat. This diversity of mechanics makes it difficult to classify survival games as a subgenre.
  • Reasons why some believe that survival games should not be considered a subgenre of horror games
    • Lack of fear element: While some survival games may feature horror elements, such as monsters or supernatural enemies, they do not always rely on fear to drive gameplay. Many survival games focus on the player’s struggle to survive in a harsh environment, rather than evoking fear. This argues against classifying survival games as a subgenre of horror games.
    • Different gameplay goals: Horror games often rely on creating a sense of tension and fear to drive gameplay, whereas survival games focus on the player’s ability to adapt and survive in a harsh environment. These different gameplay goals suggest that survival games should not be considered a subgenre of horror games.

The Future of Survival Games

The Continued Evolution of Survival Games

  • Current trends and innovations in survival games
    • Increased focus on storytelling and character development
    • Integration of emerging technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality
    • Expansion of multiplayer options and social features
  • Future potential for survival games as a subgenre or standalone genre
    • Continued growth and diversification of the survival game market
    • Potential for new subgenres to emerge within survival games
    • Survival games may continue to influence and be influenced by other genres
  • The impact of player expectations and preferences on the survival game genre
    • Evolving player preferences for realism, challenge, and replayability
    • The role of player feedback and community engagement in shaping the survival game genre
    • The potential for survival games to adapt to and cater to changing player demographics and interests

Recap of Key Points

The Evolution of Survival Games

Survival games have come a long way since their inception, with titles like The Forest and Don’t Starve leading the charge in the subgenre. These games challenged players to survive in harsh environments, often with limited resources and equipment. Over time, survival games have evolved to incorporate more complex mechanics, such as base-building, crafting, and survival strategies.

The Rise of Multiplayer Survival Games

In recent years, multiplayer survival games have gained immense popularity, with titles like Rust and The Last of Us Part II dominating the genre. These games have added a social aspect to survival gameplay, requiring players to not only survive but also compete or cooperate with others. This shift has expanded the possibilities for storytelling and world-building, as well as created new challenges for players to overcome.

The Controversy over Subgenre Classification

Despite the growth and evolution of survival games, there remains a debate over whether they should be considered a subgenre of horror games. Proponents of this classification argue that survival games often evoke fear and terror in players, while opponents contend that survival games can be just as thrilling and intense without relying on horror elements.

The Importance of Defining Subgenres

As the gaming industry continues to expand and diversify, it is crucial to have clear and concise definitions for subgenres. This helps gamers, developers, and critics alike to better understand and appreciate the nuances of each type of game. Without a clear understanding of what constitutes a survival game, it is difficult to accurately analyze and compare titles within this genre.

Final Thoughts on the Debate

While there may not be a definitive answer to whether survival games are a subgenre of horror games, it is clear that they have carved out a unique niche in the gaming world. Whether players are battling for survival against the elements, zombies, or other players, survival games offer a thrilling and challenging experience that continues to captivate gamers around the world.

Call to Action

As the debate over survival games and their subgenre classification continues, it is important to keep an open mind and remain curious about the evolution of this unique and exciting genre. Whether you are a gamer, developer, or simply a fan of the industry, continue to explore and discuss the world of survival games, and see where this exciting journey takes us next.


1. What is a subgenre?

A subgenre is a subcategory or specific type of a larger genre. In literature and media, genres are broad categories that define the type of content, such as science fiction, romance, or horror. Within these genres, there can be subgenres that further narrow down the content to a specific theme, tone, or style.

2. What is a survival game?

A survival game is a type of video game or board game where the player must navigate a harsh environment and survive against various obstacles and threats. These games often require resource management, strategy, and quick thinking to overcome challenges and progress through the game.

3. Is survival a subgenre of video games?

Survival as a game mechanic or theme is often present in various genres of video games, such as adventure, action, horror, and simulation. Some games are specifically categorized as survival games, but whether or not survival can be considered a subgenre of video games is a matter of debate.

4. Why is there a debate over whether survival is a subgenre?

The debate over whether survival is a subgenre centers around the definition of a subgenre and whether survival is a distinct enough category to be considered its own subgenre. Some argue that survival is too broad and encompassing to be considered a subgenre, while others believe that it is a unique and distinct type of game that deserves its own classification.

5. How do people feel about the debate over whether survival is a subgenre?

People have strong opinions on both sides of the debate over whether survival is a subgenre. Some believe that survival is a distinct and important category that should be recognized as its own subgenre, while others feel that it is too broad and encompassing to be considered separate from other genres. Ultimately, the debate is ongoing and will likely continue as more survival games are released and discussed.

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