Which theme do you think attracts the most readers / players who want to engage in an IF / Text RPG? Do you think emphasizing that theme before they read helps or do you like to surprise them?
I’m not sure there’s a good answer to this as there are personal reader preferences and exceptions to every rule. There are specific genres I can take or leave, but a really good concept or twist on tropes will win me over. Other people don’t like chocolate mixed with their peanut butter, and will actively turn on a book that tries to “fool” them or combine foreign tropes into the mix.
As far as surprising the reader, there’s something to be said for pulling a good twist - “Oh, this comes across as a dungeon crawl, but turns into a procedural crime story…” I think doing that needs to be well-worked into the narrative and it’s not good to falsely advertise what the thing is without a good reason.
Two examples spring to mind: The TV series THE GOOD PLACE begins as a breezy afterlife comedy, but then delves into some unexpected thought-provoking discussions of morality and philosophy and existence while remaining a comedy. Also DOKI DOKI LITERATURE CLUB relies on a severe genre swerve as its gimmick, however, they did realize that they needed to place warnings at the beginning because consumers of the starting thing weren’t also necessarily fans of the second.
I think doing this kind of thing is neat, but is best when it’s more thought-out than slapping some fantasy art onto a drawing-room comedy just for sake of surprise.
Some of the great works of SF and fantasy arose from the author saying "I wonder if SF or fantasy can be combined with ". Or with SF and fantasy combined, or subverting each other. I could name any number of examples.
As to IF: our genre (in the game model sense) began with epic fantasy (in the book setting sense). Fantasy is still the most popular form of IF, at a quick and very unscientific glance. (I’m flipping through ifdb.tads.org/search .) Science fiction and horror are up there too.
I notice you missed “romance” in your list, despite it being the most popular novel genre (I think). Romance never got big in parser IF; I’m sure this is because character-centric writing is so hard to implement well in parser land. But if you include visual novels and Choice of Games type things, romance may swamp everything else.
Good point Zarf, I tried to edit but I am only allowed 10 options for the poll but I think romance could go under adult. Adult just means it is not for children but does not mean it should only be about nakedness.
I think you will find that the common usage of “adult IF” is not noticeably co-extensive with “romance”
I could combine western and oriental to add in romance?
There’s another consideration: which genre[s] are you able to execute well?
Publishing a game that uses the most popular/attractive theme may draw a large initial audience.
But you might end up drawing a larger audience over time if you play to your strengths and create an experience that people want to share with their friends.
“Western” could fall very easily into “Historical”.
“Oriental” is a rug. Perhaps “Cultural” might be a better genre name where ethnic tradition is the draw.
“Adult” generally implies pornography, “Romance/Relationship” can be stretched to include mainstream erotica as well as cozy romance.
I changed it around as best I could within the poll limit while keeping the existing votes in place.