Should There Be A ‘Shock-Like’ Genre In Gaming?

by Tito W. James

Bioshock was a seminal video game series that reinvigorated the mechanic of the first person shooter by setting the game in a retro-futuristic dystopia. The game has often been cited as an example of how games constitute an intelligent, artistic medium. However, Bioshock’s legacy doesn’t stop there. With the rise of new independent titles that give off a Bioshock-esque vibe, it begs the question: Should there be a “Shock-like” genre?
The “-like” genre has its origins in the “Rogue-like” genre that emulated the procedurally generated role-playing game mechanics of the 1980’s game, Rogue.
Video games that have emulated Dark Souls have been dubbed “Souls-Like” and Insomniac’s new Spider-Man game is clearly an “Arkham-Like.”
To understand the potential for a “Shock-like” game, we must first pin down what elements are essential to Bioshock.

  • First person gameplay that includes one melee weapon, guns, and long range super-powered attacks.
  • An eerie retro-futuristic setting infused with social and political commentary.
  • Bizarre and memorable characters who communicate with the player via the radio.
  • Horrific enemies that require stealth or strategy to defeat.
  • Mind-blowing plot twists that the player won’t see coming.

If a game utilizes three out of the five Bioshock staples, that’s enough to classify it as “Shock-like.” Although, much like the “noir” genre the “Shock-like” genre is more about a feeling rather than a narrowly defined set of characteristics. The following games are ones I would describe as “Shock-like.” Perhaps Should There Be A “Shock Like” Genre? is a rhetorical question. There already is a “Shock-like” genre, we just needed to give it a name.

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