List of video game genres

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Video games

A video game genre is a specific category of games related by similar gameplay characteristics. Video game genres are not usually defined by the setting or story of the game or its medium of play, but by the way the player interacts with the game. [1] For example; a first-person shooter is still a first-person shooter regardless of whether it takes place in a science fiction, fantasy, or military setting; so long as it features a camera mimicking the perspective of the protagonist (first-person) and gameplay centered around the use of ranged weaponry.


Genres may encompass a wide variety of games, leading to even more specific classifications called subgenres. For example, an action game can be classified into many subgenres such as platform games and fighting games. Some games, most notably browser and mobile games, are commonly classified into multiple genres. [1] [2]

The following is a list of all commonly defined video game genres, with short descriptions for individual genres and major subgenres.


Action games emphasize physical challenges that require hand-eye coordination and motor skill to overcome. They center around the player, who is in control of most of the action. Most of the earliest video games were considered action games; today, it is still a vast genre covering all games that involve physical challenges.

Action games are classified by many subgenres. Platform games and fighting games are among the best-known subgenres, while shooter games became and continue to be one of the dominant genres in video gaming since the 1990s. [3] [4] Action games usually involve elements of twitch gameplay. [3]

Platform games

Platform games feature vertical environments with leaping and climbing between suspended platforms, hence the name platform game.

Platform games (or platformers) have gameplay primarily centered around jumping and climbing to navigate the character's environment. They may have enemies or obstacles to avoid and fight or may just be pure jumping puzzles. Generally the playable characters in a platform game are able to jump many times their own height and player is offered some control over their movement in midair as well as the height and distance of their jumps. [2] Settings tend to be vertically exaggerated with lots of uneven terrain that the player can leap to or fall off of.

Donkey Kong (1981) was one of the earliest and best-known platformers; the American gaming press classified it using the term climbing game at the time. [5] Super Mario Bros. (1985) was one of the best-selling games of all time, with more than 40 million copies sold. [6]

Shooter games

This picture shows gameplay of a freely licensed version of Doom, a highly influential first-person shooter. Freedoom 0.9 MAP07.png
This picture shows gameplay of a freely licensed version of Doom , a highly influential first-person shooter.

In shooter games (or simply shooters), players use ranged weapons to participate in the action, which takes place at a distance. [2] Most shooters involve violent gameplay; lethal weaponry is used to damage opponents. However, some shooters, such as Splatoon , have non-violent objectives.

Shooters, aside from subgenre classifications, can be further classified by their perspective of play. First-person shooters are played within the protagonist's perspective; they often include a heads-up display displaying key information such as the current health of the protagonist. [7] [8] In third-person shooters, the protagonist's body can be seen fully; the environment is rendered from a distance. [8] Some shooters incorporate both perspectives. [2]

Hero shooters are either first- or third-person multiplayer shooters that strongly encourage cooperative play between players on a single team through the use of pre-designed hero characters that each possess unique attributes, skills, weapons, and other passive and active abilities. While setting up a match, players on a team typically must each select a hero who is different from those selected by teammates and, as the match progresses, the players gain experience to unlock more powerful abilities for their hero. Outside of a match, players have the ability to customize the appearance of the heroes but with no other in-game effects. Hero shooters are inspired by the multiplayer online battle arena genre, and popular team-based shooters like Team Fortress 2 . Examples of hero shooters include Overwatch , Paladins , and Apex Legends . [9] [10]

Light gun shooters are controlled with a gun-shaped controller; light guns function via a light sensor, hence the name "light gun". The technology has been used as early as the 1920s for shooter games, although electronic video gaming did not exist at that time.

This picture shows gameplay of a shoot 'em up. Gunroar - end of boss.jpg
This picture shows gameplay of a shoot 'em up.

Shoot 'em ups pit players, who are usually piloting some form of flying vehicle, or flying by some other means, against large waves of opponents; the player is continuously moving and must attack and avoid opponent's attacks as well as obstacles. [11]

Since the 1990s, shooters, most notably first-person shooters, have become widely successful in video gaming, accounting for a large percentage of video game sales. [12] Wolfenstein 3D , created by Id Software and released in 1992, was credited for pioneering gameplay and graphics elements incorporated by many other shooters. [13] Also developed by Id and published one year after Wolfenstein 3D's release, Doom is broadly considered to be one of the most influential games in video gaming history. [13] Other successful shooter series include Half-Life , a widely acclaimed and commercially successful series noted for its influence on contemporary shooters; and the Call of Duty franchise, with more than 250 million sales across all its titles. [14]

Fighting games

Fighting games center around close-ranged combat typically one-on-one fights or against a small number of equally powerful opponents, often involving violent and exaggerated unarmed attacks. Most fighting games feature a large number of playable characters and a competitive multiplayer mode. While most fighting games emphasize hand-to-hand combat, [2] some fighting games such as Soulcalibur and Samurai Shodown center around combat with melee weapons. Many fighting games incorporate heavily emphasized attacks based on various martial arts systems. Fighting games were one of the dominant genres in video gaming until the late-1990s, where the genre saw a slight decline. This decline was short lived however, for titles such as Mortal Kombat , Street Fighter , and Super Smash Bros. dominate the fighter demographic of the modern era. [15] Different sub-genre games are starting to become more popular though. Super Smash Bros., and its deviation from the traditional fighting game rule set is on of these games that has gained a large following because of its "fun over form" party game development mentality.

Beat 'em up games

Beat 'em ups (or brawlers) are a related, but distinct genre to fighting games. While they both involve close-range combat, beat 'em ups put players against large waves of opponents as opposed to a few. [2] [11] Beat 'em ups often incorporate mechanics from other action genres and multiplayer in beat 'em up games tends to be co-operative rather than competitive. Beat 'em ups saw a sudden decline in popularity in the early 1990s with the release of fighting games, but 3D beat 'em ups have kept the genre alive. [16] Hack and Slash is a sub-genre often used to refer to weapons based beat 'em ups.

Stealth game

These games tend to emphasize sneaking around and avoiding enemy notice over direct conflict, for example, the Metal Gear series, and the Sly Cooper series. In a Stealth game, players are usually still able to engage in loud, conspicuous combat, but are often punished for it. Other games, such as Dishonored , the player can obtain their goal with or without stealth, but stealth is encouraged as the player is at a disadvantage over many of their enemies. The inclusion of stealth as a mechanic in a game does not necessarily make it a Stealth Game. For example, Skyrim has an entire perk tree dedicated to "Sneaking", but there are few opportunities to use it effectively until the player invests dozens of perks into it, and most of the dungeons in the game are set up in favor of the hack-and-slash strategy that most players adopt.[ original research? ]

The first stealth game was Manbiki Shounen (Shoplifting Boy), published in November 1979. [17] [18] The PET 2001 personal computer game was developed by Hiroshi Suzuki. [19]

Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear was the first mainstream stealth game, with the player starting the game unarmed, [20] and sold over a million copies in the United States. [21] Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake evolved the stealth gameplay of its predecessor. [22] Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are credited with pioneering stealth mechanics. [23] Metal Gear Solid , which debuted at the 1996 Tokyo Game Show, [24] was the first 3D stealth game, [25] and is credited with popularizing the stealth game genre, [26] as well as the hiding-behind-cover mechanic. [27]

Survival games

Survival games start the player off with minimal resources, in a hostile, open-world environment, and require them to collect resources, craft tools, weapons, and shelter, in order to survive as long as possible. Many are set in procedurally-generated environments, and are open-ended with no set goals. They may overlap with the survival horror genre, in which the player must survive within a supernatural setting, such as a zombie apocalypse.

Battle Royale

A battle royale game is a genre that blends the survival, exploration and scavenging elements of a survival game with last man standing gameplay. Battle royale games challenge a large number of players, starting with minimal equipment, to search for weapons and armor and eliminate other opponents, while trying to stay in safe playable area which shrinks as the time passes, with the winner being the last competitor in the game. Notable battle royale games include PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds , Fortnite Battle Royale , Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Warzone, each having received tens of millions of players within months of their releases.

Rhythm games

Frets on Fire is a music game. Fretsonfire4.png
Frets on Fire is a music game.

Rhythm game or rhythm action is a genre of  music-themed   action video game  that challenges a player's sense of rhythm. The genre includes dance games such as  Dance Dance Revolution  and music-based games such as  Donkey Konga  and  Guitar Hero . Games in the genre challenge the player to press buttons at precise times: the screen shows which button the player is required to press, and the game awards points both for accuracy and for synchronization with the beat.

PaRappa the Rapper  has been deemed the first influential rhythm game; whose basic template formed the core of subsequent games in the genre. Other popular rhythm games include Dance Dance Revolution , Maimai, Project Diva, Cytus , Love Live: School Idol Festival, The Idolmaster , osu! , Taiko no Tatsujin , Crypt of the Necrodancer , Rhythm Heaven , etc.


Action-adventure games combine elements of their two component genres, typically featuring long-term obstacles that must be overcome using a tool or item as leverage (which is collected earlier), as well as many smaller obstacles almost constantly in the way, that require elements of action games to overcome. Action-adventure games tend to focus on exploration and usually involve item gathering, simple puzzle solving, and combat. "Action-adventure" has become a label which is sometimes attached to games which do not fit neatly into another well known genre. Because of their prevalence on video game consoles and the absence of typical adventure games, action-adventure games are often called "adventure games" by modern gamers.

One of the first action-adventure games was the Atari 2600 game Adventure (1980). It was directly inspired by the original text adventure, Colossal Cave Adventure . In the process of adapting a text game to a console with only a joystick for control, designer Warren Robinett created an action-adventure game by incorporating action arcade game elements.

The action-adventure later became an established genre with Shigeru Miyamoto's The Legend of Zelda (1986), which became a success due to how it combined elements from different genres to create a compelling hybrid, including exploration, transport puzzles, adventure-style inventory puzzles, an action component, a monetary system, and simplified RPG-style level building without the experience points. [28] The game was also an early example of open world, non-linear gameplay, and introduced innovations like saving on battery backup. It became one of the most influential games of the 8-bit era, inspiring action-adventures like Metroid and RPGs like Final Fantasy . [29] Zelda has since remained the most prolific action-adventure game series through to the present day. [30]

Survival horror

Survival horror games focus on fear and attempt to scare the player via traditional horror fiction elements such as atmospherics, death, the undead, blood and gore. One crucial gameplay element in many of these games is the low quantity of ammunition, or number of breakable melee weapons. Notable examples include Silent Hill and Resident Evil .

Nostromo was the first survival horror game, developed by Akira Takiguchi, a Tokyo University student and Taito contractor, for the PET 2001. It was ported to the PC-6001 by Masakuni Mitsuhashi (also known as Hiromi Ohba, later joined Game Arts), and published by ASCII in 1981, exclusively for Japan. [31]


Metroidvania games are a subgenre of Platformer (named after its two first well-known franchises, Metroid and Castlevania ) that feature large interconnected world maps the player can explore, but access to parts of the world is limited by doors or other obstacles that can only be opened after the player has acquired special tools, weapons or abilities within the game. Acquiring such improvements also aids the player in defeating more difficult enemies and locating shortcuts and secret areas, and often includes retracing one's steps across the map. Metroidvanias usually do not consist of any linear gameplay and often involve lots of backtracking - especially after new powerups or tools have been obtained. Bossfights are also a staple of metroidvanias, without which they would be considered puzzle or adventure games [ citation needed ].


Adventure games were some of the earliest games created, beginning with the text adventure Colossal Cave Adventure in the 1970s. That game was originally titled simply "Adventure," and is the namesake of the genre. Over time, graphics have been introduced to the genre and the interface has evolved.

Unlike adventure films, adventure games are not defined by story or content. Rather, adventure describes a manner of gameplay without reflex challenges or action. They normally require the player to solve various puzzles by interacting with people or the environment, most often in a non-confrontational way. It is considered a "purist" genre and tends to exclude anything which includes action elements beyond a mini game.

Because they put little pressure on the player in the form of action-based challenges or time constraints, adventure games have had the unique ability to appeal to people who do not normally play video games. The genre peaked in popularity with the 1993 release of Myst , the best-selling PC game of all time up to that point. [32] The simple point and click interface, detailed worlds and casual pace made it accessible, and its sense of artistic surrealism caused news outlets such as Wired Magazine , The New York Times , and the San Francisco Chronicle to declare that the gaming industry had matured. [33] [34] It had four proper sequels, but none managed to experience the same level of success. The success of Myst also inspired many others to create similar games with first person perspectives, surreal environments and minimal or no dialogue, but these neither recaptured the success of Myst nor of earlier personality-driven adventures.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1990s the genre suffered a large drop in popularity, mass-market releases became rare, and many proclaimed the adventure game to be dead. More accurately, it has become a niche genre. Adventure games are not entirely uncommon, but they tend to be very low budget in anticipation of modest sales. The genre was somewhat rejuvenated with the release of The Longest Journey in 1999, which emphasized stronger story elements and more interaction with different characters. A recent resurgence of adventure games on Nintendo consoles might signify a new interest in the genre. [35] A successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, run by Doublefine Studios, also spoke to the continued interest in Adventure games. The game produced as a result was mired in controversy and production delays, and to some, signalled the true end of the genre outside of niche markets.

Text adventures

The earliest adventure games were text adventures, also known as interactive fiction. Games such as the popular Zork series of the late 1970s and early 1980s allowed the player to use a keyboard to enter commands such as "get rope" or "go west" while the computer describes what is happening. A great deal of programming went into parsing the player's text input.

Graphic adventures

Mystery House for the Apple II was the first adventure game to use graphics in the early home computer era. Mystery House - Apple II render emulation - 2.png
Mystery House for the Apple II was the first adventure game to use graphics in the early home computer era.

Graphic adventure games emerged as graphics became more common. Adventure games began to supplement and later on replace textual descriptions with visuals (for example, a picture of the current location). Early graphic adventure games used text-parsers to input commands. The growing use of mice led to the "point-and-click" genre of adventure games, where the player would no longer have to type commands. The player could, for example, click on a hand icon and then on a rope to pick up the rope.

Visual novels

A visual novel (ビジュアルノベル, bijuaru noberu) is a game featuring mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. As the name might suggest, they resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays. Many visual novels track statistics that the player must build in order to advance the plot, and permit a variety of endings, allowing more dynamic reactions to the player's actions than a typical linear adventure plot. Many visual novels are dating sims, including bishōjo games. Visual novels are especially prevalent in Japan, where they make up nearly 70% of PC games released. [36] They are rarely produced for video game consoles, but the more popular games are sometimes ported to systems such as the Dreamcast or the PlayStation 2. The market for visual novels outside Japan, however, was nearly non-existent prior to the success of the Nintendo DS, for which several Japanese visual novels were released in the West, such as the Ace Attorney series.

Interactive movie

The interactive movie genre came about with the invention of laserdiscs. An interactive movie contains pre-filmed full-motion cartoons or live-action sequences, where the player controls some of the moves of the main character. For example, when in danger, the player decides which move, action, or combination to choose. In these games, the only activity the player has is to choose or guess the move the designers intend him to make. Interactive movies usually differ from games that simply use full motion video, FMV, extensively between scenes in that they try to integrate it into the gameplay itself. This has been used in everything from racing games to fighting games. A few adventure game have tried to use the term to liken the storytelling of their games to those in movies, most notably the later Tex Murphy games and the more recent Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) , [37] although they are more aptly classified as genre hybrids. Elements of interactive movies have been adapted for game cut scenes, in the form of Quick Time Events, to keep the player alert. Games like Resident Evil 4 present obvious in-game prompts for the player to react to. Not doing so usually results in the player character either getting hurt or outright killed.

Real-time 3D adventures

Around this time, real-time 3D adventure games appeared. These included Nightfall in 1998, Shenmue in 1999, realMyst in 2000, Shadow of Memories in 2001, and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst in 2003. They augmented traditional adventure gameplay with some of the attributes more commonly associated with action games. For example, freedom of motion and physics-based behavior.


KQ is a role-playing game KQ-hitpoints.png
KQ is a role-playing game

Role-playing video games draw their gameplay from traditional tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons . Most of these games cast the player in the role of one or more "adventurers" who specialize in specific skill sets (such as melee combat or ranged magic spells) while progressing through a predetermined storyline. Many involve manoeuvring these character(s) through an overworld, usually populated with monsters, that allows access to more important game locations, such as towns, dungeons, and castles. Since the emergence of affordable home computers coincided with the popularity of paper and pencil role-playing games, this genre was one of the first in video games and continues to be popular today. Gameplay elements strongly associated with RPG, such as statistical character development through the acquisition of experience points, have been widely adapted to other genres such as action-adventure games. Though nearly all of the early entries in the genre were turn-based games, many modern role-playing games progress in real-time. Thus, the genre has followed the strategy game's trend of moving from turn-based to real-time combat. The move to real-time combat began with the release of Square's (now Square Enix's) Final Fantasy IV , the first game to use the Active Time Battle system; this was quickly followed by truly real-time action role-playing games such as the Mana series, Soul Blazer and Ultima VII . Although older turn-based system still exist, such as the Golden Sun series for Game Boy Advance as well as Pokémon .

Action RPG

Video showing basic point and click action RPG gameplay.

The action role-playing game or action RPG is a type of role-playing video game which incorporates real-time combat as opposed to turn-based or menu-based, often borrowing elements from action games or action-adventure games. Some of the first action role-playing games were produced by Nihon Falcom in the 1980s, such as the Dragon Slayer series and Ys series. Later so-called " Diablo clones" are also part of this genre. Although the precise definition of the genre varies, the typical action RPG features a heavy emphasis on combat, often simplifying or removing non-combat attributes and statistics and the effect they have on the character's development. [38] Additionally, combat always takes place using a real-time system (hence the "action") that relies on the player's ability to perform particular actions with speed and accuracy to determine success, rather than mainly using the player character's attributes to determine this.


Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPG, emerged in the mid to late 1990s as a commercial, graphical variant of text-based MUDs, which had existed since 1978. By and large, MMORPG feature the usual RPG objectives of completing quests and strengthening one's player character, but involve up to hundreds of players interacting with each other on the same persistent world in real-time. The massively multiplayer concept was quickly combined with other genres. Fantasy MMORPG, like Final Fantasy XI , The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar , and The Elder Scrolls Online , remain the most popular type of MMOG, with the most popular "pay-to-play" game being World of Warcraft , and the most popular "free-to-play" games including RuneScape and TERA , yet other types of MMORPG are appearing. Sci-fi MMORPG like Phantasy Star Online hold a smaller part of the market, with the popular space sci-fi game EVE Online being the most notable. Other massively multiplayer online games which do not have a conventional RPG setting include Second Life and Ingress.


NetHack is a roguelike game. The text display seen here is common in games in the roguelike genre. Nethack screenshot.png
NetHack is a roguelike game. The text display seen here is common in games in the roguelike genre.

The roguelike video game subgenre borrows its name and gameplay elements from the 1980 computer game Rogue . Superficially, a roguelike is a two-dimensional dungeon crawl with a high degree of randomness and an emphasis on statistical character development. Though traditionally featuring a text user interface, many such games utilize graphic tiles to overcome character set limitations.

Tactical RPG

The tactical role-playing game subgenre principally refers to games which incorporate gameplay from strategy games as an alternative to traditional RPG systems. [39] Like standard RPG, the player controls a finite party and battles a similar number of enemies, but this genre incorporates strategic gameplay such as tactical movement on an isometric grid. [39] The genre has its origins in tabletop role-playing games, where each player has time to decide his or her characters' actions.

Sandbox RPG

Sandbox RPG or Open World RPG allow the player a large amount of freedom and usually contain a somewhat more open free-roaming (meaning the player is not confined to a single path restricted by rocks or fences etc.) world. Sandbox RPGs contain similarities to other sandbox games such as the Grand Theft Auto series, with a large number of interactable non-player characters, large amount of content and typically some of the largest worlds to explore and longest playtimes of all RPG due to an impressive amount of secondary content not critical to the game's main storyline. Sandbox RPG often attempt to emulate an entire region of their setting. Popular examples of this subgenre include the Dragon Slayer series by Nihon Falcom, the early Dragon Quest games by Chunsoft, Zelda II by Nintendo, Wasteland by Interplay Entertainment, the SaGa and Mana series by Squaresoft, System Shock 2 by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios, Deus Ex by Ion Storm, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series by Bethesda Softworks and Interplay Entertainment, Fable by Lionhead Studios, the Gothic series by Piranha Bytes, and the Xenoblade Chronicles series by Monolith Soft.


A role-playing game made in Japan but has since encapsulated a new kind of game not just made in Japan. Some games include Chrono Trigger for the SNES, Final Fantasy VII , and many more.

Monster Collection

A variant of the RPG formula where the protagonist collects creatures that fight instead of the player themselves. Examples of monster collection games include Pokemon and Temtem.

First-person party-based RPG

Screenshot of Damnation of Gods, a Dungeon Master clone. All four members of the players's party move around the game world as a single unit in first-person perspective. DOTGv0.31screenshot.png
Screenshot of Damnation of Gods, a Dungeon Master clone. All four members of the players's party move around the game world as a single unit in first-person perspective.

Also known as DRPG (Dungeon RPG), this subgenre consists of RPGs where the player leads a party of adventurers in first-person perspective through a dungeon or labyrinth, typically in a grid-based environment. Examples include the aforementioned Wizardry, Might and Magic and Bard's Tale series; as well as the Etrian Odyssey and Elminage series. Games of this type are also known as "blobbers", since the player moves the entire party around the playing field as a single unit, or "blob". [40] [41]

Most "blobbers" are turn-based, but some titles such as the Dungeon Master, Legend of Grimrock , and Eye of the Beholder series are played in real-time. Early games in this genre lack an automap feature, forcing players to draw their own maps in order to keep track of their progress. Environmental and spatial puzzles are common, meaning players may have to, for instance, move a stone in one part of the level in order to open a gate in another part of the level.[ citation needed ]


Simulation video games is a diverse super-category of games, generally designed to closely simulate aspects of a real or fictional reality.

Construction and management simulation

A sample city from Lincity NG Lincity-ng.png
A sample city from Lincity NG

Construction and management simulations (or CMS) are a type of simulation game which task players to build, expand or manage fictional communities or projects with limited resources.

In city-building games the player acts as overall planner or leader to meet the needs and wants of game characters by initiating structures for food, shelter, health, spiritual care, economic growth, etc. Success is achieved when the city budget makes a growing profit and citizens experience an upgraded lifestyle in housing, health, and goods. While military development is often included, the emphasis is on economic strength. Perhaps the most known game of this type is SimCity , which is still popular and has had great influence on later city-building games. SimCity, however, also belongs to the God Games genre since it gives the player god-like abilities in manipulating the world. Caesar was a long-running series in this genre, with the original game spawning three sequels.

Business simulation games generally attempt to simulate an economy or business, with the player controlling the economy of the game.

A government simulation game (or "political game") involves the simulation of the policies, government or politics of a country, but typically excludes warfare. Recently, these types of games have gained the moniker "serious game".

Life simulation

Life simulation games (or artificial life games) involve living or controlling one or more artificial lives. A life simulation game can revolve around individuals and relationships, or it could be a simulation of an ecosystem.

Biological simulations may allow the player to experiment with genetics, survival or ecosystems, often in the form of an educational package. An early example is SimLife , while relatively recent ones are Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis and Spore . In other educational simulations such as Wolf , the player "lives the life" of an individual animal in a relatively realistic way. Hailed as one of the greatest life simulation games, however, is Creatures, Creatures 2, Creatures 3, where the player breeds generations of a species in a hugely detailed ecosystem.

Unlike other genres of games, god games often do not have a set goal that allows a player to win the game. The focus of a god game tends to be control over the lives of people, anywhere from micromanaging a family to overseeing the rise of a civilization.

Pet-raising simulations (or digital pets) focus more on the relationship between the player and one or few life forms. They are often more limited in scope than other biological simulations. This includes popular examples of virtual pets such as Tamagotchi , the Petz series, and Nintendogs .

Social simulation games base their gameplay on the social interaction between multiple artificial lives. The most famous example from this genre is Will Wright's The Sims . Dating sims and Romance simulation games fall under this category.

Vehicle simulation

Vehicle simulation games are a genre of video games which attempt to provide the player with a realistic interpretation of operating various kinds of vehicles. [42]

FlightGear is a flight simulation game. FG-A-10.jpg
FlightGear is a flight simulation game.

A flight simulation tasks the player with flying an aircraft, usually an airplane, as realistically as possible. Combat flight simulators are the most popular subgenre of simulation. The player controls the plane, not only simulating the act of flying, but also combat situations. There are also civilian flight simulators that do not have the combat aspect.

Racing games typically place the player in the driver's seat of a high-performance vehicle and require the player to race against other drivers or sometimes just time. This genre of games is one of the staples of the computer gaming world and many of the earliest computer games created were part of this genre. Emerging in the late 1970s, this genre is still very popular today and continues to push the envelope in terms of graphics and performance. These games "tend to fall into organized racing and imaginary racing categories". Organized racing simulators attempt to "reproduce the experience of driving a racing car or motorcycle in an existing racing class: Indycar, NASCAR, Formula 1, and so on." On the other hand, imaginary racing games involve "imaginary situations, driving madly through cities or the countryside or even fantasy environments". These "imaginary" racing games are sometimes called arcade racing games, in contrast to their more realistic "racing simulation" counterparts. These include Need For Speed , Mario Kart and Gran Turismo . Rollings and Adams note that "racing games are often sold in the sports category," but "from a design standpoint, they really belong in ... vehicle simulations". [42]

Space flight simulator games are a subgenre that involve piloting a spacecraft. Space simulators are different from other subgenres, and are not generally considered to be simulators, as their simulated objects do not always exist and often disregard the laws of physics.

Train simulators simulate the vehicles, environments and often economics associated with railway transport. These are frequently historical in nature, reminiscing on the evolution and emergence of the railroad in various countries and the economic booms that often accompanied them.

Vehicular combat or car combat games focus on fast-paced action, as the player operates a car or other vehicle and attempts to disable or destroy CPU or human opponents. Vehicular combat games often allow a player to choose from a variety of potential vehicles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Vehicular combat was born out of racing/shooter combinations like Spy Hunter , RoadBlasters , and Rock 'N' Roll Racing , but differs in that the players can, if desired, take their vehicles off predefined routes and do battle wherever they please. A subgenre of vehicular combat is Mecha combat, where vehicles generally include giant robot-like tanks.


Strategy video games focus on gameplay requiring careful and skillful thinking and planning in order to achieve victory and the action scales from world domination to squad-based tactics. “In most strategy video games,” says Andrew Rollings, "the player is given a godlike view of the game world, indirectly controlling the units under his command." [43] Rollings also notes that "The origin of strategy games is rooted in their close cousins, board games." [43] Strategy video games generally take one of four archetypal forms, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time and whether the game's focus is upon strategy or tactics. Real time strategy games are often a multiple unit selection game (multiple game characters can be selected at once to perform different tasks, as opposed to only selecting one character at a time) with a sky view (view looking down from above) but some recent games such as Tom Clancy's EndWar, are single unit selection and third person view. Like many RPG games, many strategy games are gradually moving away from turn-based systems to more real-time systems.

4X game

4X refers to a genre of strategy video game with four primary goals: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. A 4X game can be turn-based or real-time. Perhaps the best known example of this genre is Sid Meier's Civilization series. 4X games often cover a very large period of time, giving the player the control of an entire civilization or species. Typically these games have a historical setting, encompassing a large amount of human history (Empire Earth, Civilization, Golden Age of Civilizations) or a science fiction setting where the player controls a species set to dominate the galaxy (Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations).

Artillery game

Scorched 3D is an artillery game. Scorched 3D 40.1 screenshot 2.jpg
Scorched 3D is an artillery game.

Artillery is the generic name for early two or three-player (usually turn-based) computer games involving tanks fighting each other in combat or similar derivative games. Artillery games were among the earliest computer games developed and can be considered an extension of the original use of computers, which were once used for military-based calculations such as plotting the trajectories of rockets. Artillery games are considered a type of turn-based tactics game, though they have also been described as a type of "shooting game." Examples of this genre are Pocket Tanks , Hogs of War , Scorched 3D and the Worms series.

Auto battler (Auto chess)

Auto battler, also known as "auto chess", is a type of strategy game that features chess-like elements where players place characters on a grid-shaped battlefield during a preparation phase, who then fight the opposing team's characters without any further direct input from the player. [44] It was created and popularized by Dota Auto Chess in early 2019, and saw more games in the genre by other studios, such as Teamfight Tactics , Dota Underlords , and Hearthstone Battlegrounds releasing soon after. [45] [46] [47]

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)

Vainglory is a multiplayer online battle arena game designed for smartphones and tablets. Vainglory Halcyon Fold map.tif
Vainglory is a multiplayer online battle arena game designed for smartphones and tablets.

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) is a genre of strategy video games that originated as a subgenre of real-time strategy in which each player controls a single character in a team to compete with another team of players. The objective is to destroy the opposing team's main structure with the assistance of computer-controlled units, which periodically spawn in groups and marching down predefined paths (called "lanes") toward the enemy base. Every player character typically has its own diverse kit with unique strengths, weaknesses, and abilities that grow in power over the course of the match and which contribute to the team's overall strategy. The genre is seen as a fusion of real-time strategy games, role-playing games, and action games, though players usually do not construct either buildings or units.

This type of multiplayer online video games gained popularity in the 2010s, with Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III , League of Legends , Dota 2 , Heroes of the Storm , and Smite being popular. [48] MOBA games are also well-represented in esports with the prize pools of over 60 million dollars in 2018, which is about 40% of the total esports prize pools in the same year. [49]

Real-time strategy (RTS)

The moniker "real-time strategy" (RTS), usually applied only to certain computer strategy games, (however, this genre is probably the most well known of strategy games and is what most websites mean when they say "strategy games") indicates that the action in the game is continuous, and players will have to make their decisions and actions within the backdrop of a constantly changing game state. Real-time strategy gameplay is characterised by obtaining resources, building bases, researching technologies and producing units. Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft is a popular RTS played competitively in South Korea and televised to large audiences. Other notable games include the Warcraft series, Age of Empires series, Dawn of War , Company of Heroes , Command and Conquer , and Dune II (essentially the first RTS game). Outside of PCs, very few strategy games are real-time; a few examples are Battle for Middle-earth II , Pikmin and Halo Wars . Even fewer ones use physical pieces, such as Icehouse .

Real-time tactics (RTT)

Real-time tactics (abbreviated RTT [50] and less commonly referred to as "fixed-unit real-time strategy" [51] ) is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics. It is also sometimes considered a subgenre of real-time strategy, and thus may in this context exist as an element of gameplay or as a basis for the whole game. It is differentiated from real-time strategy gameplay by the lack of resource micromanagement and base or unit building, as well as the greater importance of individual units [50] [52] and a focus on complex battlefield tactics. Example titles include Warhammer: Dark Omen , World In Conflict , the Close Combat series, and early tactical role-playing games such as Bokosuka Wars , Silver Ghost , and First Queen.

Tower defense

Tower defense games have a very simple layout. Usually, computer-controlled monsters called creeps move along a set path, and the player must place, or "build" towers along this path to kill the creeps. In some games, towers are placed along a set path for creeps, while in others towers can interrupt creep movement and change their path. In most tower defense games different towers have different abilities such as poisoning enemies or slowing them down. The player is awarded money for killing creeps, and this money can be used to buy more towers, or buy upgrades for a tower such as increased power or range.

Turn-based strategy (TBS)

The Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based strategy game. Battle for wesnoth version 1.12.0 screenshot.jpg
The Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based strategy game.

The term turn-based strategy (TBS) is usually reserved for certain computer strategy games, to distinguish them from real-time strategy games. A player of a turn-based game is allowed a period of analysis before committing to a game action, and some games allow a certain number of moves or actions to take place in a turn. Like real-time strategy games, this genre can include many strategy games which are not solely turn-based games, and games which may contain other features not related to whether the game is turn-based or not. Examples of this genre are the Civilization , Heroes of Might and Magic , Making History, and Master of Orion .

Some recent turn-based strategy games feature a different gameplay mechanic, with a simultaneous resolution of the turns, every player preparing their future actions in the planning phase, then letting the game follow the orders given at the same time, causing orders to be interrupted by the opponent(s) actions, changing the gameplay from reacting to the opponent's action into guessing them.

Turn-based tactics (TBT)

The gameplay of turn-based tactics games (TBT) is characterized by the expectation of players to complete their tasks using the combat forces provided to them, and usually by the provision of a realistic (or at least believable) representation of military tactics and operations. Examples of this genre include the Wars , Jagged Alliance and X-COM series, as well as tactical role-playing games such as the Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics .


Wargames are a subgenre of strategy video games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare on a map. Wargames generally take one of four archetypal forms, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time and whether the game's focus is upon military strategy or tactics.

Grand strategy wargame

A grand strategy wargame is a wargame that places focus on grand strategy: military strategy at the level of movement and use of an entire nation state or empire's resources.


Sports are video games that simulate sports. This opposing team(s) can be controlled by other real life people or artificial intelligence.


One competes against time or opponents using some means of transportation. Sub-genres include racing simulators ( Gran Turismo ) and kart racing ( Mario Kart ).

Sports game

Sports games emulate the playing of traditional physical sports. Some emphasize actually playing the sport, while others emphasize the strategy behind the sport (such as Championship Manager ). Others satirize the sport for comic effect (such as Arch Rivals ). One of the best selling series in this genre is the FIFA series. This genre emerged early in the history of video games (e.g., Pong ) and remains popular today.


Games that have high competitive factor but does not represent any traditional sports or the concept is fictional designed by the developer (e.g. Ball Jacks).

Sports-based fighting

Sports-based fighting games are titles that fall firmly within the definitions of both the Fighting game and Sports game genre, such as boxing and wrestling video games. As such, they are usually put in their own separate subgenres. Often the fighting is far more realistic than in traditional fighting games (though the amount of realism can greatly vary), and many feature real-world franchises or fighters. Examples of this include the Fight Night, UFC and WWE 2K series.

Other notable genres

Board game or card game

Many popular board games and card games have computer versions. AI opponents can help improve one's skill at traditional games. Chess, Checkers, Othello (also known as Reversi), and Backgammon have world class computer programs. Mahjong and related games are immensely popular in China and Japan. Go is popular in East Asia, though it is notoriously difficult to program a computer to play Go well.

Casual games

Casual games are designed to be easily picked up and put down again, allowing for potentially short bursts of play, such as Call of Duty and most games on a mobile platform. This genre of gaming is meant to be a short and relaxing pastime, a rest in between other occupations and so is most popular with demographics who have less free time. For this reason the games often have auto-saving and syncing as standard so the games can be minimised, put into sleep or otherwise put down with no loss to the player. Market leaders in this genre are often boldly coloured, designed for intuitive interaction and have a high balance of reward to time to keep people coming back. Designers of these games should add a lot of "juice" (sound and motion elements that excite the senses) to make them stand out in a sea of highly similar games.

Due to the aforementioned requirements, many of these games are quite simple to pick up and play without lengthy tutorials. Retaining players involves a lot of careful design of levels, challenges and events.

Digital collectible card game

A digital collectible card game (DCCG) is a computer or video game usually played online that emulates collectible card games (CCG), or in many cases, doesn't use card-like images at all, but instead icons, avatars or other symbols to represent game pieces. Originally, DCCGs started out as replications of a CCG's physical counterpart such as Magic: The Gathering, but many DCCGs have foregone a physical version and exclusively release as a video game, such as with Hearthstone .

Horror game

Horror games are games that incorporate elements of horror fiction into their narrative, generally irrespective of the type of gameplay. It is the only major video game genre that is recognized by narrative elements rather than by gameplay, gameplay mode, or platform. Survival horror is a subgenre of horror games focused on action-adventure style of gameplay. [54]

Logic game

Logic games require the player to solve logic puzzles or navigate complex locations such as mazes. They are well suited to casual play, and tile-matching puzzle games are among the most popular casual games. This genre frequently crosses over with adventure and educational games. Tetris , labeled a puzzle game, is credited for revolutionizing gaming and popularizing the puzzle genre.


A massively multiplayer online game (also called MMO and MMOG) is a multiplayer video game which is capable of supporting large numbers of players simultaneously. By necessity, they are played on the Internet. Many games have at least one persistent world, however others just have large numbers of players competing at once in one form or another without any lasting effect to the world at all. These games can be found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices.

MMO games can enable players to cooperate and compete with each other on a large scale, and sometimes to interact meaningfully with people around the world. They include a variety of gameplay types, representing many video game genres, an example is the widely played game Minecraft which can be played both as an MMO or a single player game.

Mobile game

Mobile games are played on devices like phones and tablets, and are usually easy games for casual gamers. Games like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds are mobile games. Some mobile games are ported from consoles or computers, like Minecraft , Plants vs Zombies , and Fortnite . Mobile games are usually made for casual gamers and can be played and completed easily, so they can be played by people of all ages.

Party game

Party games are video games developed specifically for multiplayer games between many players. Normally, party games have a variety of mini-games that range between collecting more of a certain item than other players or having the fastest time at something. Such games include the Mario Party series, Crash Bash , and Rayman Raving Rabbids . Versus multiplayer games are not generally considered to be party games.

Programming game

A programming game is a computer game where the player has no direct influence on the course of the game. Instead, a computer program or script is written in some domain-specific programming language in order to control the actions of the characters (usually robots, tanks or bacteria, which seek to destroy each other). In SpaceChem , for example, players design circuits used for creating molecules from raw materials. Final Fantasy XII also includes some elements of a programming game, as the player creates the AI of his characters, although the player can also choose to directly control the action.

Trivia game

Trivia games are growing in popularity, especially on mobile phones where people may only have a few minutes to play the game. In trivia games, the object is to answer questions with the goal of obtaining points. They may be based on real-life trivia game shows such as Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? or Family Feud .

Idle gaming

In an IGN article, Cookie Clicker is credited as one of the few games to have played a major role in the establishment of the genre of idle gaming. [55]

This genre involves games that orient the player with a trivial task, such as clicking a cookie; and as the game progresses, the player is gradually rewarded certain upgrades for completing said task. In all, these games require very little involvement from the player, and in most cases they play themselves; hence the use of the word "idle".

In early 2014, Orteil released an early version of Idle Game Maker, a tool allowing customized idle games to be made without coding knowledge. [56]

Video game genres by purpose

While most video games are designed as entertainment, many video games are designed with additional purposes. These purposes are as varied as the nature of information itself—to inform, persuade, or stimulate. These games can have any kind of gameplay, from puzzles to action to adventure.


Advergames, in the context of video game genres, refers to promotional software specifically made to advertise a product, organization or viewpoint. The first advergames were distributed on floppy disk by the Chef Boyardee, Coca-Cola, and Samsung brands, [57] while the first cereal box advergame was Chex Quest in 1996. [58] The majority of advergames are found online and mostly include simple and cheaply made Flash games. Some advergames were released to consoles, like Pepsiman for Sony PlayStation.

Art game

Art games are designed so as to emphasize art or whose structures are intended to produce some kind of non-ludological reaction in its audience. Art games typically go out of their way to have a unique, unconventional look, often standing out for aesthetic beauty or complexity in design. This concept extends to the realm of modified ("modded") gaming when modifications have been made to existing non-art-games to produce graphic results intended to be viewed as an artistic display, as opposed to modifications intended to change game play scenarios or for storytelling. Modified games created for artistic purposes are sometimes referred to as "videogame art."

Casual game

Casual games have very simple rules or play techniques and a very low degree of strategy. [59] They also require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, making them easy to learn and play as a pastime. There are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer. [60] Casual games typically are played on a personal computer online in web browsers, although they now are starting to become popular on game consoles. The purpose of the casual game is to entertain, but with a much lower commitment than other video games.

Christian game

Christian games attempt to provide the dual purposes of spreading the Christian religion to non-believers through the medium of video games, and providing gamers who identify as Christian with a common pool of games. Christian video games were first developed by Wisdom Tree for the NES, without license. While largely regarded as derivative titles by the mainstream gaming culture,[ citation needed ] Christian games have nevertheless expanded in distribution since their inception.

Educational game

Educational games, as the name implies, attempt to teach the user using the game as a vehicle. Most of these types of games target young users from the ages of about three years to mid-teens;[ citation needed ] past the mid-teens, subjects become so complex (e.g. Calculus) that teaching via a game is impractical.[ citation needed ] Numerous subgenres exist, in fields such as math or typing.


Esports games are multiplayer games that are usually played competitively at the professional level. These games are often targeted at the "hardcore" gaming audience, and are usually first-person shooter games, requiring twitch-based reaction speed and coordination, or real-time strategy games, requiring high levels of strategic macro- and micromanagement, or MOBAs, requiring both.


An exergame (portmanteau of "exercise" and "game") is a video game that provides exercise. "Exergames" sub-divide into two main implementations, those with a game specifically designed to use an exercise input device (for example, the game Wii Fit using the Wii Balance Board) and those implementations using a genre of a game. Games fit into the category of entertainment, and similarly "exergames" are a category of "exertainment" (formed from "exercise" and "entertainment"). "Exertainment" refers to one aspect of adding entertainment to an exercise workout.

Personalized game

Personalized games are created for one specific player or a group of players usually as a gift. They are hand-made to feature real names, places and events from the recipient's life. Usual occasions for such games are birthdays, anniversaries, and engagement proposals.

Serious game

Serious games are intended to educate or train the player. These games tend to promote "education, science, social change, health care or even the military." [61] Some of these games have no specific ending or goal in the game. Rather, the player learns a real life lesson from the game. For example, games from websites such as and raise political issues using the distinct properties of games.

Scientific studies

As video games are increasingly the subject of scientific studies, game genres are themselves becoming a subject of study.

An early attempt at analysis of the action and adventure genres appeared in a Game Developers Conference 2000 paper 'Mostly Armless: Grabbing the 3D World'. This critiqued a variety of adventure and action games to categorize gameplay and interaction for adventure, action, and hybrid genres. It provided a graph of the genres along the axes of 'immediacy' vs 'complexity', with an 'ideal-zone' for gameplay that covered and linked adventure and action games. It detailed various interaction styles present in these genres and extrapolated to future user interface and gameplay possibilities for these and other genres. Some of these have since been adopted by persistent worlds. For example, Second Life uses some of the gameplay investment and interface elements described in section 4 of the paper. [62]

In a University of Queensland study, game enjoyment was correlated with attributes such as immersion, social interaction, and the nature of the goals. [63] These may be underlying factors in differentiating game genres.

Statistical scaling techniques were used in a study presented at the 2007 Siggraph Video Game Symposium to convert subject ratings of game similarity into visual maps of game genres. The maps reproduced some of the commonly identified genres such as first-person shooters and god games. [64] A Michigan State University study found that men have a higher preference for genres that require competition and three-dimensional navigation and manipulation than women do. [65]

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Related Research Articles

Tactical shooter video game genre

A tactical shooter is a subgenre of shooter games that cover both the first-person shooter and third-person shooter genres. These games simulate realistic combat, thus making tactics and caution more important than quick reflexes in other action games. Tactical shooters involving military combat are sometimes known as "soldier sims".

Survival horror Subgenre of action-adventure video games

Survival horror is a subgenre of action-adventure and horror video games that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark mazelike environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replay value and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Action game video game genre

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Multiplayer online battle arena and some real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

Dating sims, or romance simulation games, are a video game subgenre of simulation games with romantic elements.

A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based primarily on its gameplay rather than visual or narrative features. A video game genre is normally defined by a set of gameplay challenges considered independently of setting or game-world content, unlike works of fiction that are expressed through other media, such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of where or when it takes place.

A massively multiplayer online game is an online game with large numbers of players, often hundreds or thousands, on the same server. MMOs usually feature a huge, persistent open world, although some games differ. These games can be found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices.

Action-adventure game Video game genre

Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

Shooter game Action video game genre

Shooter games are a subgenre of action video game, which often test the player's spatial awareness, reflexes, and speed in both isolated single player or networked multiplayer environments. Shooter games encompass many subgenres that have the commonality of focusing on the actions of the avatar engaging in combat with a weapon against both code-driven NPC enemies or other avatars controlled by other players.

Tactical role-playing games are a genre of video game which incorporates elements of traditional role-playing video games with that of tactical games, emphasizing tactics rather than high-level strategy. The format of a tactical RPG video game is much like a traditional tabletop role-playing game in its appearance, pacing and rule structure. Likewise, early tabletop role-playing games are descended from skirmish wargames like Chainmail, which were primarily concerned with combat.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to video games:

Cooperative gameplay is a feature in games that allows players to work together as teammates, usually against one or more non-player character opponents. In the case of video games, commonly specific reference to multiple users on separate systems entering the game of a single host user.

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat while still having a focus on character's Stats in order to determine relative strength and abilities. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.

Turn-based tactics (TBT), or tactical turn-based (TTB), is a computer and video game genre of strategy video games that through stop-action simulates the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics in generally small-scale confrontations as opposed to more strategic considerations of turn-based strategy (TBS) games.

Real-time tactics or RTT is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics. It is differentiated from real-time strategy gameplay by the lack of classic resource micromanagement and base or unit building, as well as the greater importance of individual units and a focus on complex battlefield tactics.

Wargames are a subgenre of strategy video games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare on a map, as well as historical accuracy.

A strategy video game is a video game genre that focuses on skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. It emphasizes strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. They are generally categorized into four sub-types, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time, and whether the game focuses on strategy or tactics.

Eastern role-playing video games (RPGs) are RPGs developed in East Asia. Most Eastern RPGs are Japanese role-playing video games (JRPGs), developed in Japan. RPGs are also developed in South Korea and in China.

This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.