While genres can be known for a variety of works, they don't always start out that way. Usually they start out as loads of obvious Follow the Leader
copies of a Genre Busting
or making work, or a Genre Popularizer
for a genre so small that this is the first time the mainstream has heard of it
. Eventually all the followers stop being that, and start having loads of works that stand on their own. This is the point that you don't just have a bunch of clones, you have a full genre.
This doesn't always happen, though. Kart-racing Video Games
have yet to go past just being Mario Kart
clones in spite of both Mario Kart
and the clones having been around since The Nineties
. On the other hand, this can happen almost immediately. Tetris
was such a simple game, any clone needed to set itself apart to avoid getting sued.
The opposite is Genre Killer
Examples (State the genre, popularizer, and then the turning point to full genre):
- The Cyberpunk and by extension all other Punk Punk Genres were all started by William Gibson's Neuromancer. The first turning point could be argued to be The Matrix, which both popularized the genre, and put an original enough twist on it to turn it into more than just a clone. The Second turning point was when author K.W. Jeter decided to call the genre in which he was writing Steampunk leading to, if not every other work of Punk Punk, at least the idea of Punk Punk as a category.
- Gonzo Journalism was launched by "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved", written by Hunter S. Thompson for "Scanlan's Monthly" in May 1970. Scanlan's named what Thompson did—basically send his notebook from the weekend in for publication barely edited—"gonzo", and Thompson more or less went Sure, Why Not? to both the style and the name. Afterward, both he and other writers aimed to reproduce the style of that one article. Today, various other authors have put their own spin on the style, transforming it from "Hunter S. Thompson clones" to "a form of journalism started by Hunter S. Thompson."
- As in the quote, the First-Person Shooter started out with the template codified by Doom, to the point that those that came after were commonly called "Doom clones." The turning points are largely accepted to be the first GoldenEye game and Half-Life.
- Likewise, Third Person Shooters were called Tomb Raider clones. The game that changed that was probably Max Payne.
- The Strategy RPG genre may be famously known through the games Final Fantasy Tactics, or Devil Survivor, but Nintendo's own Fire Emblem franchise (developed by its Intelligent Systems division) was the one that started it all, spawning a slew of imitators such as Langrisser and the Shining Force series, due to how it combined RPG Elements with strategy that resembled your typical game of chess, which in the late 80's-early 90's was original, and innovative.
- The Fighting Game was popularized by Street Fighter II, and while some games set themselves apart, like Mortal Kombat, those were through gimmicks like blood. The fighting was still heavily based on SF. Even later Capcom fighters were just SF II clones. The turning point was Virtua Fighter, not just with the Polygonal Graphics, but adding a different style than the acrobatics and special moves of SF II. Later games like Tekken and Soul Calibur added their own dimensions.
- Now aside from Western RPGs having an open world for years (such as The Elder Scrolls series, going all the way back to Arena in 1994), Wide-Open Sandbox games were largely clones of Grand Theft Auto III, until deliberate twists on the open world (such as Burnout Paradise, Crackdown and No More Heroes) made it into a full genre.
- Originally, Real Robot shows were Gundam clones. Then came Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which took the genre into more or less what we know today, and finally things like Patlabor and Armored Trooper VOTOMS that went for the very top of the hardness scale.
- The Abridged Series genre was started by Little Kuriboh's Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, but the launch was series afterwards, like Naruto The Abridged Series and Sailor Moon Abridged.
- The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre began as a custom map for Starcraft called Aeon of Strife, and Warcraft III and its map editor came out, several maps were created that were styled after AoS. The genre was popularized by Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, followed by DotA: All-Stars. The popularity of these games spawned such MOBA games as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and Dota 2. The term MOBA was coined by Riot Games for League of Legends as a marketing term specifically because everybody referred to the genre as "DotA clones" and they didn't want their game always being compared to DotA.
- The Pokémon franchise spawned craze in Japan for anything with collectable monsters, that would later be imitated by series such as Dragon Quest (via the Dragon Quest Monsters series) and Telefang (which overseas was ironically sold as a bootleg Pokemon game, after being poorly translated). The collectable monster concept proved successful as a card game as well, when the Pokemon card game was released. This success would lead to Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters becoming extremely successful. The success of Yu-Gi-Oh! lead to imitators trying to get on the bandwagon of making a show about a game, so that kids will want to buy the real version. With so many shows like this out there nowadays, such as Duel Masters, Beyblade, Battle B-Daman, Medabots, Bakugan, and Chaotic just to name a few, one could say that "Card Game Animes" have become a genre. They all feature a tournament arc, talking about what the game is "truly about", and posing dramatically while playing the game.
- It should be noted that the concept of actually capturing monsters to fight with was first shown, in fact, with Dragon Quest V. The Pokémon series was in development at the time, though, and although it didn't start the trend it did refine it, becoming the precursor to what Monster Battling is today.
- While trading cards had been around for years, 1993's Magic: The Gathering made them into an actual game. (It was not the first — the earliest collectible card game was published in the late 19th century — but it was the first real success.) This prompted a glut of trading card games that were very similar to Magic. The turning point came in the late '90s, with the success of very different trading card games like Legend of the Five Rings and Decipher's Star Wars TCG.
- However, Magic clones still exist. For example, The Spoils debuted in 2006 after four years of having the Magic Pro Tour legend Jon Finkle as an adviser.
- Genres exist in Journal Roleplay too. Though it's still fairly different from the modern understanding, Drama Drama Duck was the beginning of "reverse jamjars", where characters meet at an interdimensional hub (though in this case it's the Internet) at their own discretion and still live in their own worlds. Island is usually credited as the first crack jamjar, and Landels, its successor Damned, and Econtra made horror into a journal game genre by developing the usual traits of a horror RP — for example, free reign for character death but having it come at a price, powers being limited or removed, a mystery the players don't know the answer to, and the event system, common in other games for silly fun, being used to break the characters' spirits.
- This is happening to Minecraft. While the concept of building blocks in a video game was not new by any stretch of the imagine (in fact, Minecraft was largely inspired by Infiniminer, Minecraft put it together in such a unique package that it was bound to attract imitators, such as FortressCraft, to games clearly inspired by it, such as Terraria. However such a plethora of games with similar concepts but large twists are coming out now (Ace Of Spades, GunCraft, Mythruna, etc), that it is far too many to count, and many of them are standing up on their own merits.