A Brief Guide to Video Game Genres

A video game is a structured, interactive form of play, normally undertaken for fun or entertainment, and occasionally used as a teaching tool. Games are very different from work, which generally is performed for monetary compensation, and from literature, which is essentially more of an expression or aesthetic elements. In short, a game can be defined as any human activity that engages the player, and in doing so allows the player to have some sort of participation in the game’s objective.


Video game genres differ significantly from one another. There are strategy games, racing games, fighting games, dress up games, and numerous others. Some of these can even be downloaded for free on websites such as Wii Downloads. While some game genres are static, others change with each new platform. For example, the first ever Mario game was released for the Nintendo GameCube, a platform that has since gone out of production.

Adventure games are probably some of the most popular video game genres. They are typically action-adventure games, wherein the player takes on the role of protagonist in a plot-based story, attempting to accomplish some goal or achieve some goal by means of various gameplay methods. Adventure games involve a great deal of inventory management, item usage, platforming, puzzle solving, etc. Often, adventure games demand players to use a lot of thinking and skill.

Another popular game genre is the action-adventure genre, which features more of a storyline and more interactive aspects than the previous two. In an action-adventure game, the player assumes the role of an adventurer, going about exploring some sort of wilderness or other environment, gathering items and solving puzzles to accomplish various goals. Most action-adventures are character driven, with the emphasis being on the exploration and use of the player’s character as well as the challenges the character faces while on his or her journey. The adventure game genre includes such hit games as Tomb Raider, God of War, Jade Empire, etc.

Computer games fall into the third category, between the action-adventure genres. Computer games in this category typically require a joystick, keyboard, mouse, or Xbox Live Gold membership to operate. They are usually played within a fairly single context, where there may be limited, although not total control over the outcome. Some examples include text-based role playing games, online strategy games, puzzle games, first person shooters, etc.

Visual novels are a unique subset of the interactive fiction category. These stories involve characters interacting through dialogues, which often result from actions players take. They tend to have a strong narrative impact, drawing players into the story by creating a sense of personal experience. Many visual novels are hybrid digital-lightweight forms of narrative medium, existing as text documents on handheld digital devices, web-based applications, or print materials. Examples include Depression, the Binding of Isaac, Vindictus, Harry Potter, The Thing, Welcome to Collage City, etc.