In its sometimes-turbulent thirty-year history, the graphic-adventure genre has driven technology adoption, ridden at both the crest and trough of the graphics and audio waves, touched the lives of millions of people, and shaped the rise (and, in some cases, fall) of several big-name people and companies in the gaming industry. It’s a genre that has often been held back by its own insularity, suffering from an unwillingness to adapt to changing market conditions or to further push the boundaries of interactivity. Adventure games certainly did these things, but the efforts to truly innovate seemed to peak in the mid-’90s, before rapidly falling off—with only a few exceptions. The improving fortunes of adventure game developers in recent years may at least in part be attributable to their efforts to innovate—Telltale with the episodic structure, Quantic Dream with a new control system (for better or worse), and Japanese developers such as Cing with Nintendo DS titles that introduce elements from visual novels.
The rise of casual games hasn’t helped the ailing genre, though, with hidden-object games (of which there are very many) often being marketed as kinds of graphic adventures—thus making it harder for deeper, more serious offerings to wade through the crowd and draw public attention.