I was a child of the 80s, that is where I fell in love with video games. The very first game system I ever touched with an Atari 2600 and came with two joysticks and two paddle sticks. But it didn’t stop there… June 1980, the game that shaped the rest of the video game industry was launched – Pac-Man. That little yellow orb zooming around eating pellets and chasing and being chased by ghosts dominated my brain. I had to play it and it sparked an early obsession as a child.
Times were much simpler then, the genre of games was limited to side scrollers and platformers. When I got to college, I was introduced to different genres; first person shooters and strategy games. My next big love was Wolfenstein 3D and then DOOM. My love for gaming only increased.
As I have gotten older I have wondered if giving up gaming was something I should consider, NAH!!! Gaming is for everyone, no matter their age. If you feel that there is just too much to learn about gaming to start playing then you are in luck, this article is for you. This article will introduce you to some of the genres and the best examples. You will then be able to head out to your local store and grab a few that you can enjoy and start your obsession.
Video Game Genres
There are so many types of video games out there, how are you supposed to know what you will like? Let’s not even talk about all of the games, period. Where do you start? How do you know what you will like? Grab a handful of quarters and do some wrist exercises and let’s get gaming.
This is the biggest and most used genre of video games out there. Platformers are a video game that makes the player jump, climb, and move around an environment to progress. Platformers are typically sidescrollers, as you move, the scene moves with you to give you a feeling of progression. This is the roots of the video gaming industry. The first of its kind was released in 1981, Donkey Kong and in 1985 Super Mario Bros.
Platform style games give you simple controls and a side view of the action. Platforms also include games like Crash Bandicoot that give you a head on view of the action. This is a very popular genre with Indie game developers and indie players. Look for unique terrain details that give your character a place to jump to or run from. Details like ladders and ropes will aid in advancement through levels. Boss fights are the doorways to your next big adventure. Adventuring to find keys and loot, while you open up maps. Today, you have games like Cuphead and Little Nightmares are prime examples of platform style.
If this is your style of levelling up, then jump out of your chair and climb your way to your video game store now.
Shooters come in a couple of camera styles. The most notable is First Person Shooter and it is basically you looking through the eyes of your character as they navigate levels and shoot everything. Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM are prime examples of FPS (first person shooters). As the gaming industry grew many of the shooters moved to Third Person Shooter style. This where you are looking over the shoulder of your character and able to see more of the world around them. Good examples of TPS (third person shooters) would be from the company Naughty Dog and one of their most popular titles Uncharted.
Shooters typically involve your character running around with a range of weapons killing bad guys and trying to stay alive. Your screen has a HUD (heads up display) that shows you your weapon, ammo type, health, armor and anything else that may be important to the game. Think about your most favorite action movie and that is what a shooter style game is like,
Some modern styles of shooter games would be Call of Duty, Halo, or Overwatch.
If you like playing something where you can picture the object of your frustrations as the face of every bad guy you have to kill in the game, then the shooter style is for you. Just make sure you carry enough ammo.
Role Play Games(RPGs)
While the name may have double meanings, in the gamer world it is one of the largest genres of games. Principally, it takes its direction from old table top style games. Think of Dungeon and Dragons or Vampire the Masquerade. The game starts out with you choosing a character type and, in some cases, being able to modify it to look how you choose. As the game progresses, you earn experience points that you can then spend to level up your character and their gear to better face more challenging bosses. Most role playing games use what is called an open world or overworld to create the story and where you will face a variety of monsters and foes.
As mentioned, this is one of the largest genres for gamers. RPGs can be Action, Tactical, JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Games it’s not what it sounds like), and MMORPG. That;s a lot of choices and how do you know the difference? Here is the funky breakdown.
- JRPG – Japanese Role Playing Game. Usually Anime stylized. A central cast of characters, multiple monster encounters, the need to grind to make your character better suited for challenges, and typically has lots of story line to back it up. Examples: Persona 5, Tales of Arise, and Xenoblade Chronicles.
- MMORPG – Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. This sub-genre has all the RPG elements but is set in a multiplayer environment. You log into a world that other players are a part of. You conduct quests and dungeon fights to gain loot and experience to level up. Best examples: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
- Roguelike – This sub-genre took its name from a game called Rogue from 1980. It is typically a two dimensional game interface and heavily emphasises character stat development. It is common that most roguelikes have what is called ‘perma death.” This is a unique game play feature where if your character dies in game, then it is dead and game saves cannot bring you back. Typically, you have to start over.
Puzzlers have been around almost as long as the test based video games of old. If you ever sat in a computer class and flipped to the game section of the computer you were using, you probably found some version of one. Games like Minesweeper are the cornerstones of this genre. Today we have games like Candy Crush or even the rebirth of Tetris. They don’t stop there. Many have evolved their look and feel to incorporate other genres to remove some of the more simplistic feels associated with them. The older Tomb Raider games would be a great example.
Party games are what they sound like, games to be played in a party type setting. Think You Don’t Know Jack. They have also evolved. Today you have games like Mario Party, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and Addams Family Mansion Mayhem.
Action Adventure is more of a sub-genre than a full fledged genre. It focuses on story or plot to drive the fight mechanics and driving the story forward. This broad description is what allows it to be used in so many other genres. But this is also what has allowed it to grow and become its own specific genre type, as well. Modern iterations of this genre focus heavily on story and utilize cut scenes to give you more rich story involvement. Where many games focus on specific button combinations to achieve special hits to increase the amount of experience points you may receive, an Action Adventure game is more immersive in its style, giving you the feel of actually being in the moment/game.
Assassin’s Creed, Batman Arkham series, and newer Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are all great examples of this genre. If you love seeing remote locations, historical representations, and a focus on scenic beauty and plot drive game play, the this genre is right up your alley.
Survival and Horror Styled
Horror video games have been around almost as long as there have been video games. If you want an example of one of the longest franchises in this genre, look no further than Resident Evil. The very first Resident Evil game was released in March 1996. It combines all the scare mechanics of a great horror movie with the fun of an action based game. These games go as far as to include limited ammo, health, and armor to get your nerves more on edge. Nothing like fighting a horde of zombies and having to worry about conserving ammo by making precise shots or when you armor will break so you don’t get killed.
Survival games aren’t new and often times were combined, originally, with Real Time Strategy games. Your actions and reactions were important to how the game unfolded. That hasn’t changed much since the upswing in its popularity. As this genre grew, one of its mainstays became crafting. With crafting you could make weapons, first aid, or armor to help you character survive. The first instance of this type of game was Robinson’s Requiem (1994). Today we have games like Dead by Daylight, The Evil Within, Friday the 13th, and Alien Isolation. Honestly, there are so many and even many more that branch a log of other genres that it is hard to name the best. If you love horror or just a good scare, then why not white knuckle your way through a few of them.
Real Time Strategy (RTS)
You could make the argument that RTS games actually fit under the bigger genre of Strategy games, but the case could be made that they are basically the same. While some elements of strategy games include turn based game play, RTS is a real time version of that genre. Often, the game focuses around resource and map management for it’s game play and focuses heavily on a top down view of the game. Essentially, this style of game reacts to your decisions as you make them. These games have evolved to be multiplayer online type games.
In multiplayer versions, you are in competition with everyone else to acquire the needed resources to build up your base and ensure your survival. These games often use capture the flag type mechanics for its combat and progression. Some examples would be Command and Conquer, Warcraft, and Age of Empires.
Simulation and Sports Games
Few genres are as sweeping as the simulation genre. You have probably seen or played them and didn’t realize what they were. This is a genre that has deep roots like strategy games do. Earliest versions would have been SimCity, the Sims, and any flight simulator game that hit the shelves. This genre is exactly what the name implies, it simulates real life, real life duties, and sports.
Simulation games can be further broken down into life simulators, vehicle simulations, and construction/management simulations. These types focus on immersion into a world you build and maintain. You are doing real or fictional life events in a digital landscape.
Sports games are as popular as sports themselves. This is often the gateway for many new gamers. If there is a sport, it has probably been made into a video game at some point. Many of these are focused on increasing the stats of your team or character to continue your advancement through a season.
Some examples of Simulation and Sports games are: the Sims, Animal Crossing, Forza Motorsport, and WWE.
Games, games everywhere
There are simply too many genres, subgenres, and types of games to list. Too many of them branch over to include other genres to create their own unique flavors of gameplay. This is only meant to give you a starting place to find games you may enjoy playing. As your exposure increases, you will see types of games that you prefer to play over others.
Remember that video games are meant to be fun and played, don’t just limit yourself to one specific type. Get out there and sample all the gaming world has to offer.