The action category refers to the broadly applied term for games with major emphasis in testing and challeging the player's abilities, such as reflexes, dexterity, timing, reaction time and eye-hand coordination. This is a major video game genre, dating as far back as 1962's Spacewar, and it has spawned several subgenres, such as shooter and beat 'em up. While games from other genres can be encompassed by such definition, the action genre refers to games in which the gameplay is heavily based on the previously mentioned common factors. The prime distinction, between games that only incorporate some of the mechanics and factors from action games and actual action games, is based in the influence rather than the presence of such mechanics and factors in the general gameplay. That means that despite a game featuring and requiring real-time responses from the player, what matters and defines a game as an "action game" ultimately depends of how much and to which degree the progression of the game relies on the real-time responses, skills and abilities of the player.
Action-adventure is a term used for games that include elements of both, as its name suggests, the action and adventure genres and is thus considered by many to be possibly the broadest genre in video gaming. In traditional adventure games, the player is tasked with solving puzzles and difficult situations with little to no action. In contrast, action games focus on combat and reflex testing, so action-adventure ideally includes both of these aspects in one.
The adventure game is one of the oldest and most long-standing of all gaming genres. They are not necessarily games which feature the protagonist going on the dictionary definition of an "adventure"; the genre's name is instead derived from the 1976 game ADVENT (a.k.a. Colossal Cave Adventure or simply Adventure) - which is widely regarded as being the first ever adventure game - rather than from its actual mechanics or themes.
'Arcade' is a style of gameplay that was developed in the '70s and gained widespread popularity in the '80s. Most of the notable early examples of arcades were released in the form of coin-operated machines in amusement arcades. Titles such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Mortal Kombat, Metal Slug, Mario Bros., and Sonic the Hedgehog helped define and popularize the genre early on.
Augmented reality games are games that use external applications in order to link the virtual world with the physical world by having in game consequence tied to real world actions. Instead of using traditional controller methods, augmented reality games use sensory input methods to detect the player's sound or movement that work as the controls. Examples include the EyeToy: Play [アイトーイプレイ] which featured minigames which captured real world footage and mixed it into the game, and Pokémon GO which used ones smartphone to capture the in-game creatures based on real world location data.
5 subgenresCard game
Card games have appeared in video games since the 1970s emulating tabletop card games like blackjack and poker. In 1988 Dragon Ball: Daimaō Fukkatsu [ドラゴンボール大魔王復活] introduced the card RPG genre, using digital gaming cards for battling enemies. In the 1990s following the introduction of the Trading Card Game (TCG), digital adaptions such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon Trading Card Game [ポケモンカードGB] were released and eventually other card battle games that were not based on a previous paper version, of which the genre enjoyed a big boom with the release of Hearthstone in 2014. Deckbuilding games started to appear in the 2010s with digital adaptations such as Ascension and Star Realms and the spin-off genre roguelike deckbuilder.
Games centered around controlling vehicles, which may or may not involve racing against opponents or completing laps of a course. These games may focus on exploration, completion of missions, finding collectibles or other objectives. While some of these games feature an open-world, others involve a specific set of levels that the player must complete.
Edutainment video games incorporate elements of educational software for the purpose of teaching players concepts and skills. These games are often intended for younger children, who are more likely to engage with learning materials when they are presented in the form of entertainment media.
Horror games aim to elicit fear and terror from the player through a wide range of means, including techniques shared with formats other than video games, such as jump scares or absence of light. The games commonly feature unsettling locations, events, and creatures, as well as make effective use of pacing in their narrative and level design to achieve this aim. Specific types of horror games may differ in their approaches. survival horror games, for example, typically rely on the management of scarce resources while exploring locations and facing enemies, and may force the players to avoid combat encounters completely in order to survive. stealth horror games double down on the factor of defencelessness making the combat encounters more lethal and rely on hiding in the shadows or behind objects, or sneaking around enemies. In contrast to these genres, action horror games reduce the sense of vulnerability and have the player facing enemies directly, utilising mechanics from action games.
Games in which the player must navigate a maze or maze-like environment. Maze games can fall under many other genres, such as maze puzzle games where the objective is to find the correct path to reach a maze's end, or action maze, such as Pac-Man and Bomberman, where the objective isn't to solve a puzzle but rather to avoid/defeat enemies and/or gather items in an area structured similarly to a maze.
Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs or MMOGs) are games in which a substantially large number of players can interact simultaneously over the internet in a world or universe that is persistent in some form.
2 subgenresOpen world
A game in which a player is given a large open world to explore, often choosing when to approach objectives or even a lack of objectives, as opposed to be given a set order of goals (though one may still have to complete some objectives to unlock others).
Party games are a broad category of multiplayer games which are designed to facilitate social interaction or provide entertainment during a social gathering. Party games are generally designed to be quick to learn for new players, and often have low skill ceilings to provide an even playing field for players of all experience levels. Additionally, party games often include elements of comedy to lighten the mood of a social gathering, although this is not always the case.
Games that require the player to follow either a pre-set or randomly generated musical rhythm to progress, either by pressing a sequence of keys at the correct times on a traditional control pad (such as PaRappa the Rapper), or by using a bespoke controller to emulate dancing (dance), singing and rapping (singing), or the playing of a musical instrument. The latter can include plastic imitations of instruments (such as DJ Hero and Rock Band) or real-world electronic instruments connected to the gaming machine (such as Rocksmith).
Roguelite games are inspired by roguelike, almost always featuring elements like permanent death and randomly-generated levels. Unlike true roguelikes, however, they often eschew traditional RPG and turn-based combat elements in favor of other things like platforming or strategy. Additionally, roguelite games often have unlockables that persist across play sessions.
Role-playing games, or RPGs, are essentially but not exclusively defined by games which the player takes the role of a character (or a team of characters) in a certain fictional setting, what explains the applied term. In video games, the role-playing is performed meeting certain characteristics typical to the original tabletop RPGs. Basically, those characteristics consist of options regarding the character development and build, narrative and story progression, exploration, and decision-making. When the player opts certain choices, incidental restrictions and paths based in such choices are generated as the game proceeds. Such paths could be related to skills, aspects and attributes of the role-playing character, and depending how the player invest (or not) in certain factors, the gameplay gets restricted to what the player selected. Many RPGs have a fixed stat-leveling for the character(s), in these cases the gameplay restricts itself unless the character(s) meet a certain requirement after increasing stats. Those restrictions can, but not always, prevent progression and change the difficulty and approach of the game and how the player should act under certain conditions.
Shooter is a sub-genre of action games in which gameplay is primarily based around shooting mechanics. The shooting aspect is commonly attributed to projectile-based weapons, devices and actions performed by the player's avatar. Most shooters rely on the player's reaction time, aim, and reflexes of the player in a real-time scenario. It should be noted that not every game featuring combat based around in projectile-based weapons can be considered a shooter. The shooting aspect in shooters is the main and primary gameplay mechanic regarding game progression. While shooters are commonly associated with games featuring usage of guns, several others types of projectile shooting can be found as well, such as magic fireballs, sprinklers, eggs, etc. Some shooters don't even enclose the projectile-based gameplay, featuring a different type of "shooting", like Pokémon Snap [ポケモンスナップ] (1999) and Gal*Gun [ぎゃる☆がん] (2011) for example.
A broad genre of video games that emulates various activities and explores logical systems of interactions. While many simulation games attempt to capture the complexities of realistic activities in an accurate manner, some simplify the mechanics of the tasks they replicate or create fictional systems and mechanics for players to engage with. The success of simulation games in the 1980s led to increased interest in the genre, which has since expanded to include simulations of a multitude of activities both real and fictional.
Stealth games are a form of game with focus on avoiding detection by enemies rather than fighting them directly. While some games do allow for more direct combat, the emphasis in stealth games is to achieve objectives by sneaking past enemies or eliminating them without being detected, often making use of equipment, abilities and the game environment to achieve this. Early examples of the genre include 005, Castle Wolfenstein and Metal Gear, and well-known series' include Thief, Splinter Cell, Hitman and Metal Gear Solid.
Games requiring careful planning and decision-making to succeed. This can range from long-term strategic thinking essential in grand strategy games to shorter-term tactical thinking emphasized in, for example, turn-based tactics games. They most often feature an aerial view of the map. The games are primarily war-themed, descending from wargaming board games (including wargame games closely resembling them), but they also include video game adaptations of abstract strategy games such as chess, checkers or shogi.
Survival games are games in which the player faces management of scarce resources to survive. The games typically feature mechanics such as regulating physiological needs such as hunger and thirst and crafting items.
14 subgenresTraditional game
Traditional games are video games which incorporate rules from traditional, non-video games, spanning from exact recreations to reinterpretations of traditional elements into a new video game context. Examples of the former are 3D Pinball for Windows: Space Cadet, a very straightforward pinball game, or the Chessmaster series, a popular franchise of chess games. Examples of the latter include the combination of first-person shooter gameplay with the rule set of chess in FPS Chess (2022), or the roguelike deckbuilder based on slot machines, Luck Be a Landlord (2023).
Games that test either the player's general knowledge, or their knowledge of a particular topic such as sports or music. While these games may include visual representations of progression through 'rounds' or levels, sometimes imitating game shows and board games, the interactivity of the player revolves largely or entirely around answering questions. Typically the questions are in multiple choice format, and the player is given a time limit in which to answer them, but there are examples of trivia games that do not employ these features.
1 subgenreUser generated content
User-generated content describes games which revolve almost entirely around the creation of content by the player themselves. They share similarities with computer software creation tools, in that they can be used to create content from scratch or from a selection of pre-defined materials.