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Trend-Setting Games

A small stack of Nintendo Switch games on a carpet

The Transformative Power of Trend-Setting Games

In the ever-evolving world of gaming, trend-setting games hold a special place. They are the titans that not only captivate audiences but also redefine the boundaries of the industry. These games are more than just popular; they are pioneers, charting new territories and setting the stage for future innovations. From gameplay mechanics to narrative depth, trend-setting games shape the future of gaming in profound ways.

Innovative Mechanics

One of the most significant impacts of trend-setting games lies in taking the most basic of mechanics, turning the dial to 11 and designing the rest of the game to match it.

Take "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" as an example. It took the basic act of navigating a large open world and designed player experiences around it, resulting in a game that redefined open-world exploration. Its seamless integration of environmental interaction and freedom of exploration pushed the boundaries of what players could do in a game world. This level of interactivity became a phenomenon, leading to an explosion of games following suit; inspiring countless other developers to rethink their approach to game design, resulting in a new wave of immersive, open-world games.

Narrative Depth and Emotional Engagement

Beyond mechanics, other trend-setting games push the envelope in terms of storytelling and emotional engagement. Games like "The Last of Us" by Naughty Dog set new standards for narrative depth and character development. This game demonstrated that video games could tell complex, emotionally resonant stories that rival those of the best films and novels. The success of "The Last of Us" has encouraged other developers to invest in rich storytelling, leading to a more mature and diverse array of narratives in gaming.

Similarly, "Undertale" by Toby Fox showed how indie games could deliver powerful emotional experiences. With its unique approach to player choice and morality, "Undertale" created a deeply personal and reflective experience for players. This game inspired a wave of indie developers to explore unconventional storytelling methods and to prioritize emotional impact over traditional gameplay mechanics.

Technological Advancements and Accessibility

Trend-setting games also play a crucial role in advancing technology and improving accessibility. "Minecraft," created by Mojang, is a prime example. Its simple yet powerful building mechanics have not only inspired a generation of gamers but also influenced educational tools and virtual learning environments. "Minecraft" has demonstrated the potential of games as platforms for creativity and education, encouraging further exploration of how gaming can be integrated into learning.

On the accessibility front, games like "Celeste" have pushed for more inclusive design, offering extensive accessibility options and proving that challenging gameplay can be made accessible to a wider audience.

The Cultural Impact

Trend-setting games often become cultural phenomena, influencing not just other games but also popular culture at large. "Pokémon Go," developed by Niantic, took the world by storm with its innovative use of geospatial augmented reality (AR). It not only redefined mobile gaming but also brought people together in the real world, creating a unique social gaming experience. The success of "Pokémon Go" highlighted the potential of geospatial AR games and led to a surge in interest and development in similar games and applications.

Moreover, games like "Among Us" by InnerSloth have shown how social dynamics and community-driven gameplay can capture the collective imagination. Its simple yet engaging gameplay, combined with the power of social interaction, created a global sensation. This game highlighted the importance of social elements in gaming, inspiring developers to create experiences that foster community and collaboration.


Every so often, a retro genre will make a huge comeback and create waves for a good period of time. Most recently, the "reverse bullet hell" genre made quite the splash, with "Vampire Survivors" by poncle leading the charge during the recent pandemic lockdowns. The familiarity in gameplay and the choice of pixel art captured the attention and eventually hearts of many. And not before long, the market became filled with similar games, with their respective spins on the gameplay or visuals.

In short, trend-setters challenge conventions and push the boundaries of what games can be. Some revisit old genres while others innovate new mechanics for players to explore. What other trends in the entertainment and games industry have you observed?


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