Over the holidays I came up with an interesting idea for a project. What I'd like to do is take the existing game genres, and reduce them to their simplest expression. I'd like to create a game that is a shoot-'em-up, for example, that is just the most basic features of shoot-'em-ups - the minimum necessary elements in order to be considered part of the genre. Then do the same for RPGs, FPSes, RTS games, and so on.
What would this accomplish? Well, the games probably wouldn't be much fun to play. However, the discussion that arose out of creating them would help us to really define what the integral parts of a genre are. More excitingly, they would provide us openings to add to the genres, create new genres, and subvert the conventions that we discover. A shooter must have a player, targets, shots, and points. What happens if we make a shooter without targets? Without shooting? Or if we add a key component of another genre (say, stats from an RPG) to the game?
Many of the results would be things we already know about gaming, affirmed. But I think the journey could be an exciting one.