The Info List - Video Game Genres

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A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based on its gameplay interaction rather than visual or narrative differences.[1][2] A video game genre is defined by a set of gameplay challenges and are classified independently of their setting or game-world content, unlike other works of fiction such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of where or when it takes place.[3][4] As with nearly all varieties of genre classification, the matter of any individual video game's specific genre is open to personal interpretation. Moreover, each individual game may belong to several genres at once.[1]


1 History 2 Definition 3 In practice 4 Popularity 5 See also 6 References

History[edit] The first attempt to classify different genres of video games was made by Chris Crawford in his book The Art of Computer Game Design in 1984. In this book, Crawford primarily focused on the player's experience and activities required for gameplay.[5] Here, he also stated that "the state of computer game design is changing quickly. We would therefore expect the taxonomy presented [in this book] to become obsolete or inadequate in a short time."[6] Since then, among other genres, the platformer and 3D shooter genres, which hardly existed at the time, have gained a lot of popularity. As hardware capabilities have increased, new genres have become possible, with examples being increased memory, the move from 2D to 3D, new peripherals, online and location. Though genres were mostly just interesting for game studies in the 1980s, the business of video games expanded in the 1990s and both smaller and independent publishers had little chance of surviving. Because of this, games settled more into set genres that larger publishers and retailers could use for marketing.[2] Definition[edit]

This space-themed video game is a shoot 'em up, or a "side-scrolling shooter."

Due to "direct and active participation" of the player, video game genres differ from literary and film genres. Though one could state that Space Invaders
Space Invaders
is a science-fiction video game, such a classification "ignores the differences and similarities which are to be found in the player's experience of the game."[5] In contrast to the visual aesthetics of games, which can vary greatly, it is argued that it is interactivity characteristics that are common to all games. Descriptive names of genres take into account the goals of the game, the protagonist and even the perspective offered to the player. For example, a first-person shooter is a game that is played from a first-person perspective and involves the practice of shooting.[7] The term "subgenre" may be used to refer to a category within a genre to further specify the genre of the game under discussion. Whereas "shooter game" is a genre name, "first-person shooter" and "third-person shooter" are common subgenres of the shooter genre.[8] Other examples of such prefixes are real-time, turn based, top-down and side-scrolling. The target audience, underlying theme or purpose of a game are sometimes used as a genre identifier, such as with "games for girls," "Christian game" and "Serious game" respectively. However, because these terms do not indicate anything about the gameplay of a video game, these are not considered genres.[2] In practice[edit] Video game
Video game
genres vary in specificity, with popular video game reviews using genre names varying from "action" to "baseball." In this practice, basic themes and more fundamental characteristics are used alongside each other.[9] A game may combine aspects of multiple genres in such a way that it becomes hard to classify under existing genres. For example, because Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III
combined shooting, driving and roleplaying in an unusual way, it was hard to classify using existing terms. Since then, the term Grand Theft Auto clone
Grand Theft Auto clone
has been used to describe games mechanically similar to Grand Theft Auto III.[7] Similarly, the term roguelike has been developed for games that share similarities with Rogue.[10] Elements of the role-playing genre, which focuses on storytelling and character growth, have been implemented in many different genres of video games. This is because the addition of a story and character enhancement to an action, strategy or puzzle video game does not take away from its core gameplay, but adds an incentive other than survival to the experience.[11] Popularity[edit] According to some analysts, the count of each broad genre in the best selling physical games worldwide is broken down as follows.[12][13]

Genre VGC top 100 ESA

2005 2010 2015 2016 2017

Action 12 15 27 25 22 22.5

Adventure 7 6 2 1 0 7.8

Fighting 5 2 5 3 5 5.8

Platform 10 9 4 3 4

Puzzle 6 1 0 0 1

Racing 13 8 5 4 6 3.3

Role-playing 7 16 12 15 17 12.9

Shooter 8 14 22 24 19 27.5

Simulation 5 0 4 4 0

Sports 17 16 12 13 15 11.7

Strategy 3 1 0 0 2 4.3

Misc 7 12 7 8 9 4.1

The most popular genres are currently Shooter, Action, Role-playing and Sports, with Platformer and Racing having both declined in the last decade. Puzzle games have declined when measured by sales, however, on mobile, where the majority of games are free-to-play, this genre remains the most popular worldwide.[14][15][16] See also[edit]

List of video game genres Game classification


^ a b Apperley, Thomas H. (2006). "Genre and game studies" (PDF). Simulation & Gaming. 37 (1): 6–23. doi:10.1177/1046878105282278. Retrieved 2013-04-19.  ^ a b c Adams, Ernest (2009-07-09). "Background: The Origins of Game Genres". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ Adams, Ernest; Andrew Rollings (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. p. 67. ISBN 9780133435719.  ^ Harteveld, Casper (2011-02-26). Triadic Game Design: Balancing Reality, Meaning and Play. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 71. ISBN 1849961573. Retrieved 2014-12-19.  ^ a b Wolf, Mark J.P. (2008). The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to Playstation and Beyond. ABC-CLIO. p. 259. ISBN 031333868X. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ Chris, Crawford (1982). "A Taxonomy of Computer Games". The Art of Computer Game Design (PDF). Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ a b Lecky-Thompson, Guy W. (2008-01-01). Video Game Design Revealed. Cengage Learning. p. 23. ISBN 1584506075. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ Thorn, Alan (2013-05-30). Game Development Principles. Cengage Learning. pp. 4–5. ISBN 1285427068. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ Egenfeldt-Nielson, Simon; Smith, Jonas Heide; Tosca, Susana Pajares (2013-04-27). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. Routledge. p. 46. ISBN 1136300422. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ "ManaPool Guide to Roguelikes". ManaPool. 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2014-11-06.  ^ Clements, Ryan (2012-12-12). "RPGs Took Over Every Video Game Genre". IGN. Retrieved 2014-12-03.  ^ http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2015/Global/ ^ http://www.mweb.co.za/games/view/tabid/4210/Article/28870/ESA-Report-Best-selling-video-games-and-super-genres-of-2016.aspx ^ https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/SimonHill/20141216/232458/Games_rule_the_iTunes_App_Store_Most_popular_genres_revealed.php ^ https://localizedirect.com/posts/most-popular-game-genres-revealed/ ^ https://www.bigfishgames.com/blog/stats/most-popular-mobile-game-genres/

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Video game
Video game
genres (List)


Beat 'em up

Hack and slash

Fighting Maze

Pac-Man clone

Platform Shooter

First-person Third-person Side-scrolling Top-down isometric Light gun Shoot 'em up Tactical


Battle royale


Grand Theft Auto clone Immersive sim Metroidvania Stealth Survival horror

Psychological horror


Escape the room Interactive fiction Interactive movie Point n' click Visual novel




Action role-playing Dungeon crawl Roguelike Tactical role-playing


Construction and management

Business City Government

Life simulation

Dating sim Digital pet God Social simulation



4X Multiplayer online battle arena Real-time strategy

Tower defense Time management

Real-time tactics Turn-based strategy Turn-based tactics Wargame

Vehicle simulation

Flight simulator

Amateur Combat Space


Kart racing Sim racing

Submarine simulator Train simulator Vehicular combat

Other genres

Artillery Breakout clone Eroge Exergame Incremental Music


Non-game Party Programming Puzzle

Sokoban Tile-matching

Related concepts

Advertising Arcade game Art game Audio game Casual game Christian game Crossover game Cult game Educational game FMV Gamification Indie game Multiplayer video game Nonlinear gameplay

Open world

Nonviolent video game Online game

Browser game Multiplayer online game Online gambling Social network game

Pervasive game Serious game Toys-to-life Twitch gamepla