Game types: all video game genres and sub-genres

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Marie-Ange Demory
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The video game industry already has enough titles to please any type of audience. In this article, we will present all the main genres of games that exist, with the presentation of their subgenres and examples for each category. There's a game for all tastes!

Action

Action games make the most of your skills and reflexes to overcome obstacles or accomplish objectives, and they tend to be fast-paced. Fights, shootings, chases and explosions are trademarks of these games.



Action is a genre that falls into different categories depending on the focus of the game:

Action and adventure

Action adventure games are a little slower than other action games. In this sub-genre you will have many moments of struggle, but also of exploration, doing different activities or enjoying an interesting narrative. This category includes games with elements from other genres, such as RPG, shooting, sandbox, platforming, etc.

  • Examples: Grand Theft Auto V, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

Battle Royale

The battle royale genre has grown in popularity in recent years. These games always have the same mission: to be the last player standing. These are multiplayer games that pit you against dozens of other players (in some cases more than 100). In general, you can play solo games, but they are perfect games to play in pairs or groups.

While most battle royales are shooters, this is not a mandatory requirement.

  • Examples: PUBG (PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds), Fortnite, Free Fire, Call of Duty Warzone, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Apex Legends.

Fight

Fighting games are one of the most competitive genres of all time. A fighting game tends to pit one character against another, face to face, melee or using weapons. Sometimes they include tag mode, in which multiple characters can take turns in the middle of a fight.



Depending on the graphics and how you can move your character, there are 2D, 3D or 2.5D fighting games (3D graphics, but you move on a 2D plane).

  • Examples of fighting in 2D / 2.5D: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 11, Street Fighter V, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Strive, Brawlhalla.
  • Examples of 3D fighting: Tekken 7, SoulCalibur VI, Dead or Alive 6, Arms, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.

beat'em up

Beat'em up games are a genre that had its heyday in the 80's and 90's. In this type of game, your objective is to advance to the end of the level by hitting different enemies, either with your hands, skills or with items from the scenario. . Beat'em up are ideal games to play cooperatively.

  • Examples: Streets of Rage 4, Double Dragon, Final Fight, River City Girls, Fight'n Rage.

Hack'n Slash

Hack'n Slash games are very similar to beat'em up. The big difference is the increased use of melee and ranged weapons, as well as powers. These games usually have a lot of information on the screen, with lots of flashy visual effects, always colorful and with an addictive gameplay.

  • Examples: Devil May Cry 5, God of War, Bayonetta 2, Ninja Gaiden 2 / Sigma 2, Hades.

Stealth, espionage and infiltration games (stealth games)

In these games, uncontrolled action is often a secondary option or just a bad move. The most important thing is to hit or eliminate the target without being detected and without leaving any traces that put it in evidence.


  • Examples: Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, HITMAN, Dishonored, Thief, Commandos.

Shooter / Shooting games


Shooting games, also known as shooters, are a branch of action focused, of course, on exchanging fire with firearms. Even though they always have the same base, games of this genre are so varied in setting and gameplay that they can be divided into several categories.

FPS

FPS (first person shooters) are shooting games in which you deal with the character in the first person. The key to these games is the feeling of immersion, as you put yourself in the protagonist's shoes, seeing what he sees.

  • Examples: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Halo 5: Guardians, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, Metro Exodus, Rainbow Six Siege, Doom Eternal, Half-Life 2.

3rd person shooting (TPS)

Third-person shooters, or TPS (third person shooters) are shooting games where you see the character you control, with the camera behind or on top. Just like FPS, this subgenre can contain several other elements such as adventure, exploration, tactics, etc.

  • Examples: Grand Theft Auto 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Gears 5, Control, Tom Clancy's The Division 2, Max Payne 2

Shoot'em Up

Shoot'em up, sometimes abbreviated as "shmups", are shooting games that flood you with a relentless barrage of bullets. It's almost always 2D games where you move in the same direction, but there are multi-directional games. You can control anything from ships to armed soldiers to the teeth.


  • Examples: Ikaruga, Cuphead, DodonPachi Resurrection, Metal Slug, TouHou, Contra.

Looter shooter

Looter Shooter is a sub-genre focused on getting loot to have the best equipment and weapons possible. To beat the game at 100%, it is common to spend hours until you have the best of the best to defeat the most dangerous and complicated enemies. In general, these games have many RPG elements.


  • Examples: Borderlands 3, Destiny 2, Warframe, Tom Clancy's The Division 2.

RPG

RPGs (role playing games) are great for playing with characters created in your own way. Depending on the game, you will have more or less freedom in the creation and distribution of attributes. In any case, the common thread in role-playing games is to develop your characters in different ways. Thanks to this feature, RPGs have a very high level of replayability.

action RPG

These games emphasize action, without neglecting the RPG aspect. In these games you will get used to fighting many enemies to advance in the story and complete missions. In fact, character development often focuses on strengthening them.

  • Examples: The Witcher 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 4, Dark Souls, Kingdom Hearts 3, Diablo 3, Mass Effect.

Turn-based and tactical RPG

In contrast to action RPGs, RPGs with turn-based or tactical combat leave you with some time to think. You can plan your moves in advance and choose a strategy to defeat enemies. In these games, you usually manage a group of characters instead of just one.

  • Examples: Divinity: Original Sin 2, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, Persona 5, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Disgaea 5.

JRPG / Japanese RPG

JRPGs are role-playing games created by Japanese companies, with all the traits found in anime and manga. In this branch, you will find games that have turn-based or real-time combat.

  • Examples: Final Fantasy VII, Pokémon Sword and Shield, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Tales of Berseria, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age.

Roguelike and Dungeon Crawlers

In roleplaying games, there are two sub-genres with an emphasis on dungeons. Both roguelikes and dungeon crawlers. These games usually have scenarios created randomly, so that whenever you play again, things will be different.

Gameplay can include real-time or turn-based combat. Also, there are games in both genres that give you freedom of movement, but you'll find many where you can only walk in one direction.

  • Examples: Enter the Gungeon, Hades, Darkest Dungeon, The Bard's Tale, Tales of Maj'Eyal, Moonlighter.

Survival and crafting games

Survival games tend to go hand in hand with the crafting system. In them you have a world to explore and many threats to avoid or eliminate. As you progress through the game, it is normal for you to end up creating a good variety of equipment and even constructing large buildings. It's a good genre to give wings to the imagination!

  • Examples: Minecraft, Terraria, Rust, ARK: Survival Evolved, The Forest, Raft, Green Hell, Conan Exiles, Valheim.

Sandbox and open world

Sandbox games and open world games have one thing in common: freedom of action and movement. On the one hand, you can follow the story or the main objective. On the other hand, nothing prevents you from getting lost in the immense scenarios and doing other activities. They are one of the most loved video game genres for the amount of hours of content they have.

  • Examples: Grand Theft Auto V, Saints Row IV, Mount & Blade, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3, Just Cause, Far Cry 5, Yakuza, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

MMO

MMOs (massive multiplayer online) are exciting games that put you in a world full of players. Previously, they used to be paid or required a subscription to continue playing. Today you have the opportunity to play many free MMOs that cover different genres that we have discussed in this article.

Some examples of sub-genres are MMORPG (RPG), Shooter MMO (shooter), MMORTS (real-time strategy) or MMO simulators.

  • Examples: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, The Elder Scrolls Online, Tibia, Ragnarok Online, Guild Wars 2, EVE Online Lords Mobile, Second Life.

Simulation

Simulation is a very extensive genre that covers everything you can imagine. The main point of this genre is to simulate a sport, activity or aspect of life. They are usually very realistic, but these games can have whimsical touches. This includes sports, racing, life simulation and city or business games.

  • Examples: FIFA 21, NBA 2K21, The Sims 4, Stardew Valley, Second Life, SimCity, Forza Horizon 4, Project Cars, Gran Turismo, Need for Speed: Heat, Trackmania, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator, DCS World, Kerbal Space Program.

Strategy

Strategy is a genre rich in variants and types of games that you can find. In strategy games, the most important thing is to have good planning and efficient tactics to win the game. You must place yourself before each opponent's movements, manage your units and, in some cases, even build buildings or forge alliances.

TBS / Turn-based Strategy

We start with one of the biggest sub-genres! TBS (turn-based strategy) are turn-based strategy games. Depending on the game, you can only perform one action per turn, while others allow more movement. TBS games have a smoother, more relaxed pace, with deep gameplay mechanics.

  • Examples: Civilization VI, Heroes of Might and Magic V, Age of Wonders, Endless Legends, The Battle for Wesnoth, King's Bounty.

RTS / Real-time Strategy

We continue with the RTS (real time strategy), similar to the TBS games but with the difference of being in real time, having a faster pace. You will have to be alert and constantly alert as the margin of error is smaller. While it doesn't have to be that way, real-time strategy games tend to focus more on combat.

  • Examples: Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, StarCraft II, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Warcraft III, Homeworld.

MOBA

MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) are online games that divide players into two teams. Your mission is simple but difficult to execute: destroy the enemy base. To do this, you manage characters with unique abilities, and you can sometimes improve them by purchasing items. To win, it is essential to cooperate with your teammates and have an effective strategy!

  • Examples: League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, Mobile Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Arena of Valor.

Auto battler

Auto battlers (often also called Auto Chess) are a sub-genre with fairly straightforward gameplay. The objective of each game is to win automated battles. Your role is to buy units, strengthen them and place them on the battle board. As soon as the combat round starts, the units fight automatically.

  • Examples: Teamfight Tactics, Dota Underlords, Auto Chess.

4X

"4X" refers to the terms Explore, Expand, Explode and Exterminate. In these games, you almost always start small, and as you gather resources, create a strong army, forge alliances, and expand your empire until you achieve victory. The ways to win are usually varied.

  • Examples: Civilization VI, Stellaris, Age of Wonder, Sins of a Solar Empire, Master of Orion, Endless Legend.

tactical strategy

Tactical strategy includes those strategy games primarily oriented towards combat and technology development. They can be turn-based or real-time, and many of these games have a good narrative load. They may have management elements, but they are usually not the main course.

  • Examples: Company of Heroes, Warhammer: Dawn of War, Total War, XCOM 2, Panzer Corps 2, Hearts of Iron IV.

Tower Defense (tower defense)

Tower defense is self-explanatory. You have to defend your towers and structures by positioning your units strategically and managing your resources well. In these games you usually need to have a good knowledge of all the game content, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each structure, unit and skill in order to survive the waves of enemies. Some of the games mix this genre with others, like card games or shooting games.

  • Examples: Clash Royale, Plants vs Zombies, Orcs Must Die!, Bloons TD Battles, Minion Masters, Kingdom Rush.

Artillery

Artillery games are a very simple type of strategy game. You take control of some units in order to eliminate those of your opponents. You have to aim well, calculate trajectories and move your units wisely.

  • Examples: Worms, Death Tank, Scorched Earth.

Adventure

Adventure games give us exciting stories, sometimes with comic touches, sometimes tackling serious issues. They usually have a good narrative load and puzzles or situations to solve. Here we leave out games with a lot of action elements, as we already talked about them above.

Point & Click / Graphic adventure

This is the most popular adventure sub-genre. Adventure games constantly challenge us to talk to different characters and find or use the correct items to advance. Decades ago they had their heyday, but there are still games of this style today.

  • Examples: The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Broken Sword, The Longest Journey, Kathy Rain, Runaway.

Conversational and narrative adventure

These games focus on telling a story and making more of an impact through the choices we make when it comes to a conversation. That doesn't eliminate the possibility of having to explore, look for certain items and even solve a puzzle.

  • Examples: The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Life is Strange, Batman: The Enemy Within.

Walk Simulator / First-person adventure

The walk simulators are a very relaxing adventure sub-genre. Just walk from one side to the other and let the story unfold slowly. It doesn't require much skill to play and win the game.

  • Examples: What Remains of Edith Finch, Stanley Parable, A Short Hike.

Visual novel and interactive film

If walk simulators are already relaxing, this subgenre is even more so. In so-called interactive movies, you typically interact more with the character and setting, whereas in visual novels, you just make a few decisions and watch the story unfold.

  • Examples: Detroit: Become Human, Doki Doki Literature Club!, Until Dawn, CLANNAD, Nekopara.

Terror

Horror games make your hair stand on end! In them, the main element is to scare the player, or at least present a tense, oppressive, dark and disturbing environment. Below we explain the two main subgenres.

horror survival

The survival horrors (horror survival) are extremely popular. In addition to being constantly alert for possible scares, it is necessary to manage resources such as weapons, medicine and ammunition well. Therefore, terror comes in two ways: by the theme itself and by the fear of not being left with nothing, at the worst moment. Believe me, this happens several times!

  • Examples: Resident Evil Village, The Evil Within, Outlast, Silent Hill 2, Alien Isolation, Dead Space, Obscure.

Psychological terror

As for psychological horror games, the main point is to provide a chilling atmosphere rather than presenting challenging gameplay. Don't get us wrong: some games are challenging, with enemies to take down and puzzles to solve. However, the most important thing is to delve into a hostile environment.

  • Examples: SOMA, Inside, Little Nightmares 2, Layers of Fear, Amnesia, Observer, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.

Platform

Platform games challenge you to accurately position your character at all times during gameplay. This is a challenge in itself, but many of the platformers include combat and/or puzzles to solve. Winning these games requires skill and patience, as it is normal to have to repeat a part or an entire level several times. Of course, this is one of the classic genres in video game history.

Within platform games you can find the acclaimed metroidvanias, games that are based on the mechanics of the old Metroid and Castlevania.

  • Examples in 2D / 2.5D: Sonic Mania, Super Mario Bros, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Metroid, Castlevania, Spelunky.
  • 3D examples: Super Mario Odyssey, Prince of Persia: Las Arenas del Tiempo, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, A Hat in Time.

Card games

Card games are, in essence, competitive. You create your deck of cards, ensuring they have powerful synergies and combinations. Games of this genre take place in turns, and it is essential to take a good look at what the opponent is doing. In addition to having a good strategy, you must adapt to your opponent's moves!

  • Examples: Hearthstone, Gwent, Magic The Gathering: Arena, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, Legends of Runeterra.

Arcade

Arcade games span a wide range of sub-genres, but they all feature fast-paced gameplay. Whether you are looking to play for a few minutes or a few hours, these games will provide endless fun. In general, arcade games memorize scores, ranks, and highscores that encourage players to keep going.

  • Examples: Tetris, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Bomberman, NBA Jam, Pong, Streets of Rage, Metal Slug, Out Run, R-Type.

mental agility games

Mental agility games squeeze your brain to the max. In games of this genre, you will have to discover clues, understand how to solve puzzles, place blocks in the correct place and solve crimes. Educational games are also considered part of this genre.

  • Examples: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Profesor Layton, Danganronpa, The Room, The Witness, Among Us, Brain Training.

Party games / Minigames

Party games are games that include a good variety of fast, competitive and extremely fun minigames. They are ideal for playing with a lot of friends, whether in short matches or even lasting hours. Some of them can also be played by one person.

  • Examples: Super Mario Party, Wii Sports, Jackbox Party Pack, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Rayman Raving Rabbids.

Rhythm games or music games

Musical games include dance, music and instrument games. They are ideal for music lovers and demonstrate your guitar skill or voice skill. Some of them require real dance moves while others just require you to press keys in time with the music.

  • Examples: Dance Dance Revolution, Just Dance, Sing It, SingStar, Friday Night Funkin', Rocksmith, Rock Band, Fuser.
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