PC games or more generally video games can be categorized into genres by many factors such as methods of game playing, types of goals, art style and more. Nevertheless, a lack of consensus is typical for accepting formal definitions of game genres. Since genres are dependent on content by definition, they have changed and evolved as newer styles of video games have appeared.
Below commonly used video game genres with brief descriptions and sometimes with examples are listed. However, Chris Crawford, a well-known computer gamedesigner and writer, notes that “the state of computer game design is changing quickly. We would therefore expect the taxonomy presented here to become obsolete or inadequate in a short time.” So, he recommends to “think of each individual game as belonging to several genres at once.”
An action game puts stress on combat. So, players should use quick reflexes, accuracy, and timing to overcome obstacles. It is perhaps the most basic of game genres, and certainly one of the most widespread.
Fighting games emphasize one-on-one fight between two characters, one of which may be computer controlled. This genre first appeared in 1976 with the release of Sega‘s Heavyweight Boxing and later became a phenomenon, particularly in the arcades, with the release of Street Fighter II.
Maze games plot is entirely connected with a maze, which players must navigate. Quick thinking and fast reaction times are advanced by the use of a timer, monsters obstructing the player’s way, or multiple players racing to the finish. The most famous game of this genre is Pac-Man.
Pinball games are intended to replicate the look and feel of a real-life pinball table in virtual reality. Most pinball games hold the same gameplay style as in a real pinball table with some additional possibilities. In recent years they have become more popular on handheld systems, as opposed to consoles.
Platform games (platformers) involve travelling between platforms by jumping (sometimes by swinging or bouncing). Other traditional elements include running and climbing ladders and ledges. Platformers frequently borrow elements from other genres like fighting and shooting.
A shooter game focuses chiefly on combat involving projectile weapons, such as guns and missiles. They can be divided into first-person and third-person shooters, depending on perspective. First-person shooter video games (FPSs) emphasize shooting and combat from the perspective of the character controlled by the player and give the player the feeling of “being there”. Most FPSs are very fast-paced and require quick reflexes on high difficulty levels. Third-person shooter video games (TPSs or 3PSs) involve shooting and combat from a camera perspective, in which the player is seen at a distance. Furthermore, third-person shooters allow more complicated movements such as rolling or diving, as opposed to simple jumping and crouching typical in FPS games.
Massively multiplayer online first person shooter games (MMOFPS) combine first-person shooter gameplay with a virtual world in which a large number of players may interact over the Internet. While 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 the game.
A shoot ’em up (or shmup for short), or arcade shooter, is a genre of shooter game in which the player controls a character or vehicle (most often a spacecraft) and shoots large numbers of enemies. Games in this genre call for fast reactions and memorization of enemy patterns. The first game of this type was Spacewar, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1961, for the amusement of the developers; it was later released as an arcade game.
Tactical shooters are variations on the first- and third-person shooter genre, which concentrate on realism and highlight tactical play such as planning and teamwork (for example, co-ordination and specialised roles). In single player modes, the player commands a squad of AI controlled characters in addition to his own. In multi-player modes, players must work in teams in order to win the game.
Adventure games belong to the earliest games created. The player should typically solve various puzzles by interacting with people or the environment, most often in a non-confrontational way. It is considered a “purist” genre and strives to exclude anything which comprises action elements.
A visual novel belongs to adventure games comprising mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. They resemble mixed-media novels or tableau vivant stage plays. Many visual novels can have various endings and allow more dynamic reactions to the player’s actions than a typical linear adventure plot. Visual novels are particularly popular in Japan, where they amount to 70% of PC games released.
The interactive movie genre came 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. In these games the only activity the player has is to choose or guess the move the designers intend him to make.
Action-adventure games combine elements of their two component genres, habitually furnishing long-term obstacles that must be overcome almost constantly in the way. Action-adventure games tend to focus on exploration and usually comprise gathering, simple puzzle solving, and combat. “Action-adventure” has become a label attaching to games which do not fit precisely into another well known genre.
Role-playing video games
Role-playing video games derive their gameplay from traditional role-playing games (RPGs). Cultural differences in role-playing video games have led towards two sets of characteristics sometimes referred to as Western and Eastern RPGs. The first type often 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 predefined characters through a dramatically scripted linear storyline.
The action role-playing game is a type of role-playing game which includes elements from action games or action-adventure games. Although a definition of the genre varies, the typical action RPG heavily accents combat and often simplifies or removes non-combat attributes.
The tactical role-playing game sub-genre principally refers to games which embody gameplay from strategy games as an alternative to traditional RPG systems. Like standard RPGs, the player controls a finite party and battles, but this genre incorporates strategic gameplay such as tactical movement, too.
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