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Riffs on Roguelikes: Fourteen Years of 7DRLs

Canon formation is as contentious as it is necessary. To talk critically about gameplay, to understand what gameplay is and isn’t, and even to recognize when gameplay is new, requires us to build a vocabulary about gameplay. Part of this vocabulary is to understand what we mean when we refer to genres. One particular genre of interest to myself is the roguelike genre. The Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) Challenge is an annual game jam in which we try to make games inside this genre. I have taken this opportunity to explore the meaning of “”roguelike”” by intentionally picking themes that I felt could not be adapted to the genre. After fourteen such challenges, I’ve amassed a large set of data points to address the question. My contributions are two-fold. First, I present my own results, which I believe do provide evidence that the term roguelike exists as a gameplay term rather than just an art-style term. Second, I provide an example of using intentional genre-pushing as a method of experimentation. This process could easily be applied to other genres to better identify their realms of influence.

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