Remember when "clone" wasn't a term of scorn when discussing a video game? When people first started saying thing like "Saints Row is a clone of Grand Theft Auto III," it was actually conveying useful information. Considering the sheer number of games available and the tendency for a new game to closely emulate previous games...
Say what you mean
This is one of those pieces that I wrote a long while ago which kept getting pushed back, but I still think it's an interesting thing to look at. Because there are a lot of terms that we use when discussing games, several of which have been washed out to the point of abject uselessness. It's worth examining why that happens, why it becomes a regular thing, and whether or not there's much of anything we can do to change that fact. The real heartbreaker, of course, is that many of these terms served a purpose that literally cannot be expressed any more simply. Unfortunately, the nature of the thing means that we can't use those terms any more. It's like some weird discussion-based Peter Principle, wherein a useful term becomes so ubiquitous that it's no longer useful in discussion. In hindsight, I wish I'd thought of that particular analogy when I wrote the piece, but, you know... hindsight. Enjoy, as always!