Video games are categorized into genres based on their gameplay interaction. Thomas Apperley states that an "agreed form of interaction suggests a consistent genre has been established". Thus, genres are based on "underlying similarities rather than their superficial visual or narrative differences". As with nearly all varieties of genre classification, the matter of any individual video game's specific genre is open to personal interpretation. Moreover, it is important to be able to "think of each individual game as belonging to several genres at once."

The first light guns appeared in the 1930s, following the development of light-sensing vacuum tubes. It wasn't long before the technology began appearing in arcade shooting games, beginning with the Seeburg Ray-O-Lite in 1936. These early light gun games used small (usually moving) targets onto which a light-sensing tube was mounted; the player used a gun (usually a rifle) that emitted a beam of light when the trigger was pulled. If the beam struck the target, a "hit" was scored.

Modern screen-based light guns work on the opposite principle — the sensor is built into the gun itself, and the on-screen target(s) emit light rather than the gun. The first light gun of this type was used on the MIT Whirlwind computer. Some "light gun" games actually use guns mounted on joysticks, giving the illusion of using a light beam, but all control is transferred through the movement of the stick; notable examples of this include T2: The Arcade Game and Revolution X.

Massively multiplayer online first person shooter Rectify

Massively multiplayer online first person shooter games (MMOFPS) are a genre of massively multiplayer online games that combines first-person shooter gameplay with a virtual world in which a large number of players may interact over the Internet. Whereas standard FPS games limit the number of players able to compete in a multiplayer match (generally the maximum is 64), hundreds of players can battle each other on the same server in an MMOFPS.

Examples of multiplayer online person shooter games are: World War II Online and PlanetSide.

Rail shooter Rectify

Run and gun Rectify

Run and gun games generally involve a player running across terrain while firing at multiple on-screen enemies. These games generally only work in 2D.

Shoot 'em up Rectify


Project Starfighter, a shoot 'em up.

"Shoot 'em ups" or "shmups" place emphasis on shooting, and usually simplify other gameplay aspects of in deference to this. Several of the earliest arcade games (such as Galaxian) could be classed as precursors to shoot 'em ups, though they were generally lacking some key aspect. Shoot 'em ups include many sub-genres, including run and gun games.

The games that typify the shoot 'em up genre are scrolling shooters - shoot 'em ups that are traditionally played on a long, 2D, scrolling playing area. Scrolling shooters are generally classified by their direction of scroll: the most common are horizontal (side view) and vertical (top view) shooters. Zaxxon may have been the first genuine scrolling shooter.

The scrolling shooter has a long history, with its roots in the early 1980s. It has a mixed following nowadays, however, classic-style 2D shooters are still being made, commonly rendered in 3D graphics. An example is Star Fox, a shoot 'em up with a clever gameplay twist.

Tactical shooter Rectify

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Tactical shooters are variations on the first person shooter genre (though also, less often, on third person shooters). Some are modifications of existing games; the aim of such modifications being to increase the realism of the original game. These games emphasize tactical play such as planning and teamwork (for example, co-ordination and specialised roles), whereas more conventional first person shooters tend to reward individual skill and heroism. In single player modes, the player commands a squad of AI controlled characters in addition to his/her own; in multi-player modes, players must work in teams to win the game. Also, in multi-player games, winning a match is likely to be dependent on capturing an objective of some sort rather than gaining the most kills (as is often the case in more conventional first person shooters).

Third-person shooter Rectify

Third-person shooter video games, known as TPSs or 3PSs, emphasize shooting and combat from a third-person perspective of the character the player is controlling. This perspective gives the player a wider view of their surroundings as opposed to the limited viewpoint of first-person shooters. Furthermore, third person shooters allow for more elaborate movement such as rolling or diving, as opposed to simple jumping and crouching common in FPS games. Greater interaction with the player's environment is often possible. The emphasis remains on shooting however; these games lack the platforming and puzzle elements of action-adventure shooting games.

Top-down shooter Rectify

Side-scrolling Rectify

Side-scrolling video games are action games viewed from a side-view camera angle, where the player generally move from the left side of the screen to the right in order to reach their goals. Many platform games, shooter games, and beat 'em up games fall into this category, although not all of them. Side-scrolling video games are less common now due to the rise of 3D graphic technology, although they are still common for browser-based games and handheld consoles.

Adventure Rectify

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 simple point and click interface, detailed worlds and casual pace made it accessible, and its sense of arty surrealism helped it escape the stigma that games are for children. 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.

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. However, as of 2005, the adventure game genre is showing signs of a revival, with games such as Trace Memory, Fahrenheit, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and Dreamfall being produced.

Text adventure / Interactive fiction Rectify

The earliest adventure games were text adventures, sometimes called interactive fiction. Games such as Colossal Cave Adventure (which gave the "adventure" genre its name) and 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.

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Graphic adventure Rectify

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. But 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.

Escape the room Rectify

Escape the room is a genre of online graphic adventure game, usually created for Adobe Flash and utilizing a point and click style of play. The object of the game is to find a way to escape from a mysterious room.

Visual novel Rectify

Wikipe-tan visual novel (Ren'Py)

Visual novels are commonly characterized with dialog boxes and sprites determining the speaker.

A is an adventure game 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.

Visual novels are commonly called dating sims in the West, because many visual novels track statistics that the player must build in order to advance the plot. This is also because many visual novels permit a variety of endings, allowing more dynamic reactions to the player's actions than a typical linear adventure plot.

Visual novels are especially prevalent in Japan, where they make up nearly 70% of PC games released. They are rarely produced for video game consoles, but the more popular games are sometimes ported to systems such as the Sega Dreamcast or the Playstation 2. The market for visual novels outside of Japan, however, is nearly non-existent.

Interactive movie Rectify

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 or action, or combination to choose. In these games, the only activity the user has is to choose or guess the move the designers intend him to make.

Interactive movies usually differ from games that simply use FMV extensively between scenes in that they try to integrate it into the gameplay itself. This has been used in everything from racing games (Megarace) to fighting games (Supreme Warrior). Because of this, it is arguable that the term is more of an antiquated buzzword (like how many early 3D games were tagged as "virtual reality") than a real genre.

The term itself has come to be associated with a lot of clumsy, poor quality games from the early-to-mid '90s, and thus it is rarely ever used anymore. 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 Indigo Prophecy, but few would include these in the same genre as games that used FMV in their gameplay.

Notable games of this category include Dragon's Lair, Space Ace and Night Trap.

Construction and management simulation Rectify

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

City-building Rectify


A sample city from Lincity

In city-building games, a specialised sub-genre of economic simulation 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.

Economic simulation Rectify

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

God games Rectify

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.

Government simulation Rectify

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 has gained the moniker "serious game".

Life simulation Rectify

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 simulation Rectify

Biological simulations may allow the player to expermient with genetics, survival or ecosystems, often in the form of an educational package.

Pet-raising simulation Rectify

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 Rectify

Social simulation games base their gameplay on the social interaction between multiple artificial lives. The most famous example from this genre is The Sims.

Role-playing Rectify

Computer and console role-playing games (CRPGs or simply RPGs) draw their gameplay from traditional role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Most cast the player in the role of one or more "adventurers" who specialize in specific skill sets (such as combat or casting magic spells) while progressing through a predetermined storyline. Many involve maneuvering 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 RPGs, 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, modern CRPGs have introduced a real-time aspect. Thus, the CRPG 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 Co.'s (now Square Enix) Final Fantasy IV, the first game to use the Active-Time Battle system; this was quickly followed by truly real-time games like Ultima VII.

There are two different types of RPGs. The first involves the player creating a character and a non-linear storyline along which the player makes his own decisions. In the second type the player controls a party of pre-made characters through a linear storyline. These styles are sometimes referred to as Western and Japanese Role-Playing Games respectively, although there are numerous exceptions.

Action role-playing Rectify


The action role-playing game or action RPG is a type of role-playing game which incorporates elements from action games or action-adventure games. 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. 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. Typically many action RPGs focus more on the collection of randomized treasure than story progression that is found in other types of RPGs.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing Rectify

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs, emerged in the mid to late 1990s as a commercial, graphical variant of text-based MUDs, which had existed since around 1979. The massively multiplayer concept was quickly combined with other genres. Fantasy MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft or The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, remain the most popular type of MMOG. Yet other types of MMORPG are appearing. Sci-fi MMORPGs hold a smaller part of the MMOG Market. One of the first examples of this type of MMOG is Anarchy Online. Many other sci-fi MMORPGs have launched with the popular space sci-fi game EVE Online being the most notable.

Roguelike Rectify

Tactical role-playing Rectify

The tactical role-playing game sub-genre principally refers to strategy-derived games as an alternative to the traditional RPG system. In such titles, the system has been tailored to incorporate gameplay from strategy games. The genre has its origins in tabletop role-playing games, where each player has time to decide his or her character's action. The term "tactics" was not widely used to describe such titles until Final Fantasy Tactics was released, where it popularized the genre in North America, although games such as Shining Force were part of the genre years beforehand.

Strategy Rectify

Strategy video games are video games that focus on gameplay requiring careful and skillful thinking and planning in order to achieve victory. In most strategy video games, "the player is given a godlike view of the game world, indirectly controlling the units under his command".

"The origin of strategy games is rooted in their close cousins, board games".[1] Strategy games instantiated on computers 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.

4X Rectify

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.

Scorched 3D 40.1 screenshot 2

Scorched 3D is an artillery game.

Artillery Rectify

Artillery is the generic name for either 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; the theme of such games is an extension of the original uses of computer themselves, which were once used to calculate the trajectories of rockets and other related military-based calculations. Artillery games are a type of strategy game, though they have also been described as a "shooting game".

Real-time strategy Rectify

Usually applied only to certain computer strategy games, the moniker "real-time strategy" (RTS) 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. Very few non-computer strategy games are real-time; one example is Icehouse.

Real-time tactics Rectify

A real-time tactics game shares feature of the simulation and war game categories. These computer game titles focus on operational aspects and control of warfare. Unlike in real-time strategy games, resource and economical management and building plays no part of the battle gameplay.

Battle for Wesnoth 0.8.5 chaotic indexed

The Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based tactics game.

Turn-based strategyRectify

The term "Turn-based strategy game" (TBS) is usually reserved for certain computer strategy games, to distinguish them from real-time computer strategy games. A player of a turn-based game is allowed a period of analysis before committing to a game action.

Turn-based tactics Rectify

The gameplay of turn-based tactics games 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.

Wargames Rectify

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. Sometimes these games are categorized by the scale of warfare, such as grand strategy wargames that focus on a whole war or series of wars over a longer period of time.

Vehicle simulation Rectify

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.


FlightGear is a flight simulation game.

Flight Rectify

A flight simulation tasks the player with flying an aircraft, usually an airplane, as realistically as possible. Combat flight simulators are the most popular sub-genre of simulation. The player controls the plane, not only simulating the act of flying, but also combat situations. Falcon 4.0 and IL-2 Sturmovik are examples of the genre.

There are also civilian flight simulators that do not have the combat aspect, Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane being the most popular examples.

Racing Rectify

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". 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 raise political issues using the distinct properties of games.



Brooks, Caroline S. (2006). "[1]". 'Video Games, Manipulation and the Military: A Comparative Analysis of America's Army and Socom II: Navy Seals'.

See also Rectify

Game interfaces Rectify

Game platforms Rectify

Other game classifications Rectify

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