Table of Contents

Video games come in all shapes and sizes these days, with a huge variety of genres and subgenres to appeal to diverse tastes.

While early video games were often straightforward and focused on gameplay above all else, modern games feature engrossing stories, stunning graphics, multiplayer modes, and open-world environments. With so many options to choose from, it helps to understand the main video game genres so you can find titles that match your interests and preferences.

Some of the major genres in gaming right now include action, adventure, role-playing, simulation, strategy, and sports games. Each genre has distinctive features that set it apart from the others and cater to different gamers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular types of video games on the market today.

Image: Primary Infinity Ward/Activision

Action Games

Action games emphasize physical challenges that require hand-eye coordination and reaction time. These games often feature combat, shooting, fighting, and other physics-based gameplay. Some of the most popular action game genres include:

  • First-person shooters – Players view the action through the eyes of the protagonist and must shoot enemies and avoid being shot. Popular franchises include Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo.
  • Third-person shooters – The player character is visible on screen and can be moved around the environment. Cover mechanics are often incorporated. Examples are Gears of War, Splinter Cell, and Uncharted.
  • Fighting games – Two combatants fight one-on-one using special moves and combos. Popular series include Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Super Smash Bros.
  • Platformers – Players must jump between suspended platforms and over obstacles. Classic platformers include Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Stealth games – The player must avoid detection by enemies and complete objectives without being noticed. Hitman, Metal Gear Solid, and Dishonored are notable stealth game franchises.
  • Hack and slash – Players hack, slash, and fight through levels full of enemies. Iconic hack-and-slash games include Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and God of War.
  • Survival horror – These action games emphasize survival in scary, dangerous settings. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space exemplify survival horror.

Action games test and advance the player’s reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time. Their fast-paced, kinetic gameplay provides an exciting adrenaline rush.

Image: World of Warcraft/Blizzard

Adventure Games

Adventure games emphasize puzzle-solving, exploration, and narrative. They feature storytelling and immersive worlds to explore, with challenges that tax players’ ingenuity. Popular adventure game genres include:

  • Point-and-click – These adventure games involve solving puzzles by clicking different objects on the screen. All LucasArts SCUMM games like Monkey Island are point-and-click.
  • Text adventures – The player interacts with the game through text commands. Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure pioneered interactive fiction.
  • Graphic adventures – Also called visual novels, these adventure games focus on storytelling with static graphics and minimal gameplay. Danganronpa and Ace Attorney are examples.
  • Walking simulators – The player traverses an environment focused on storytelling and atmosphere over challenges. Dear Esther and What Remains of Edith Finch showcase walking simulators.
  • Interactive movies – Gameplay periodically pauses for extended cinematic sequences. Popular franchises include Heavy Rain and Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
  • Action-adventure – Combines adventure gameplay with action combat and sequences. The Legend of Zelda and Tomb Raider helped popularize action-adventure.
  • Survival games – Adventure games that emphasize realistic survival mechanics like hunger, thirst, and finding shelter. Don’t Starve and The Long Dark are survival games.
  • MMOs – Massively multiplayer online games blend roleplaying progression with a persistent world. World of Warcraft leads the MMO genre.

Adventure games allow players to enter captivating fictional worlds and influence their direction through clever problem-solving. Strong storytelling and exploration define the adventure game experience.

Image: The Elder Scrolls/Bethesda Softworks via Gameblast

Role-playing Games (RPGs)

RPGs cast the player as characters on story-driven quests full of combat, character growth, and statistical progression. Some major RPG genres include:

  • Action RPGs – RPG elements like statistical progression merge with real-time combat gameplay. Diablo, Path of Exile, and Bastion demonstrate action RPGs.
  • MMORPGs – Massively multiplayer online RPGs support large player populations questing together in persistent virtual worlds. World of Warcraft leads the MMORPG genre.
  • Tactical RPGs – Strategy gameplay elements factor into turn-based combat. Final Fantasy Tactics and XCOM popularized tactical RPGs.
  • Roguelikes – RPGs featuring permanent death and procedurally generated levels for high replayability. The Binding of Isaac and Hades are roguelikes.
  • JRPGs – RPGs originating from Japan. They often incorporate anime/manga storytelling conventions. Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest exemplify JRPGs.
  • Western RPGs – Heavily story-driven RPGs deriving from tabletop and computer RPGs made in the West. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls showcase WRPGs.
  • Sandbox RPGs – Open-world RPGs emphasizing freedom and emergent gameplay within expansive virtual worlds. The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Mount & Blade are sandbox RPGs.

RPGs let players embody customizable characters and influence enthralling stories through their actions. Leveling up abilities, choosing dialog options, and growing stronger through progression are signature RPG mechanics.

Image: Gran Turismo/Polyphony Digital/Sony

Simulation Games

Simulation games aim to recreate real-world activities and experiences through gameplay systems. Here are some significant simulation game types:

  • Flight simulators – Mimic piloting actual aircraft with varying degrees of realism. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a leading example.
  • Space simulators – Simulate space flight and combat in a sci-fi setting. Elite Dangerous and Eve Online showcase space simulation.
  • Driving simulators – Replicate driving real vehicles, often focusing on professional racing. Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, and rFactor are driving sims.
  • Life simulators – Players manage the daily activities of virtual people and communities. The Sims leads in the life simulation genre.
  • Construction simulators – Players operate machinery and manage construction projects. Construction Simulator typifies the genre.
  • Business simulators – Run virtual businesses by managing resources and making operating decisions. Rollercoaster Tycoon and Game Dev Tycoon exemplify business simulation.

Simulation games offer realistic experiences letting players try occupations and activities they otherwise couldn’t. Fine-tuned simulation mechanics capture the essence of real-world systems.

Image: Plants vs Zombies/EA

Strategy Games

Strategy games challenge players to achieve victory by outmaneuvering opponents. Common genres include:

  • Real-time strategy (RTS) – Players control armies by harvesting resources, building bases, and commanding units in real time to defeat opponents. StarCraft, Warcraft, and Command & Conquer exemplify RTS games.
  • Turn-based strategy – Rely on positioning units and managing resources by taking turns. Civilization, XCOM, and Total War use turn-based strategic gameplay.
  • Real-time tactics (RTT) – Smaller-scale, tactical battles play out in real time. Company of Heroes and World in Conflict led the rise of RTT games.
  • 4X – Explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate are the key phases of gameplay. Master of Orion and Civilization popularized the 4X genre.
  • Tower defense – Players build towers to defend against waves of enemies. Plants vs. Zombies and Defense Grid are tower defense games.
  • Grand strategy – Games modeling nations and diplomacy on a macro-scale. Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis are grand strategy franchises.
  • Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) – Teams of players select heroes with unique abilities to destroy opponents’ bases. League of Legends and Dota 2 lead the MOBA genre.

Strategy games offer complex challenges testing players’ planning, resource management, and adaptive decision-making skills. Outsmarting human and AI opponents creates immense satisfaction.

Image: Half-Life 2/Valve

Puzzle Games

Puzzle games challenge mental ingenuity by testing players’ problem-solving skills. Common puzzle game genres include:

  • Physics puzzles – Manipulate objects and physical forces like gravity to solve puzzles. Half-Life 2 and Portal feature physics-based puzzles.
  • Hidden object – Find lists of objects hidden within cluttered game scenes. Hidden object games include Mystery Case Files and Hidden City.
  • Match-3 – Match and eliminate groups of three or more objects on a grid. Candy Crush Saga leads the match-3 genre.
  • Sokoban – Push boxes into target locations on a maze grid. Sokoban itself pioneered the genre.
  • Tetris – Rotate and position falling geometric blocks into horizontal lines that then disappear. Tetris remains the quintessential example.
  • Logic puzzles – Solve puzzles using logical reasoning techniques. The Witness and Baba Are You are logic puzzle-focused.
  • Physics puzzles – Manipulate objects and physical forces like gravity to solve puzzles. Half-Life 2 and Portal feature physics-based puzzles.

From quick brain teasers to immersive stories, puzzle games allow players to flex their mental muscles in fun, mind-bending ways. Mastering increasingly complex conundrums provides intense satisfaction.

Image: Mario Party/Nintendo

Party Games

Party games emphasize friendly, social fun for groups. The most popular party game genres include:

  • Trivia games – Test knowledge across topics in different quiz show-style mini-games. The Jackbox Party Pack and You Don’t Know Jack pioneered party trivia.
  • Word games – Games focused on creating words from letter tiles or identifying words and phrases. Scrabble, Codenames, and Catch Phrases involve social wordplay.
  • Drawing games – Take turns drawing prompts for others to identify before time runs out. Pictionary and Drawful excel at social drawing challenges.
  • Improvisation games – Think on your feet responding to randomized prompts and scenarios. Quiplash and Mad Verse City encourage outlandish improvised responses.
  • Music games – Show your singing skills alone or with friends. SingStar and Rock Band bring interactive karaoke to gatherings.
  • Minigame compilations – Rapid-fire rounds of varied simple games test reflexes and luck. Mario Party and Crash Bash offer hectic minigame mega-packs.
  • Cooperative games – Team up to overcome challenges demanding coordination. Overcooked and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime require kitchen and spaceship cooperation.

The social play of party games thrives on in-person camaraderie and friendly competition. They provide an ideal backdrop for unforgettable gatherings with families and friends.

Image: The Sims/EA

Casual Games

Casual games feature simple, accessible gameplay targeted at mass-market players. Here are some major casual game genres:

  • Match-3 games – Line up matching tiles on a grid to make them disappear. Candy Crush Saga epitomizes the casual match-3 genre.
  • Hidden object games – Find lists of objects concealed in cluttered scenes. Casual hidden object game series include Mystery Case Files and Jewel Quest.
  • Time management games – Complete tasks and objectives within a time limit. Cook Serve Delicious and Diner Dash are time management games.
  • Virtual life games – Live a virtual life by customizing avatars, building homes, and forming relationships. The Sims and Animal Crossing are leading virtual life games.
  • City-building games – Construct cities by managing resources and expanding infrastructure. CityVille and SimCity BuildIt exemplify casual city-builders.
  • Puzzle games – Solve puzzles requiring logic and reasoning. Bejeweled and Cut the Rope are casual puzzle games.
  • Music/rhythm games – Tap and match inputs to the rhythm of songs. Just Dance and Guitar Hero offer casual music and rhythm gameplay.

Casual games provide stress-free entertainment thanks to their simple rules, forgiving difficulty, and natural interruption points. They act as escapism from the pressures of work and life.

Image: Guitar Hero/FreeStyleGames/Activison

Educational Games

Educational games teach knowledge and skills through interactive gameplay. Here are key educational game genres:

  • Quiz games – Reinforce learning through multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and other quiz-based challenges. Kahoot! pioneered gamified quizzing.
  • Typing games – Learn and improve typing skills through keyboard challenges. Typing Instructor and Typing Maniac are typing education games.
  • Math games – Use arithmetic, geometry, and other math skills to overcome obstacles. Math Blaster and Dragon Box Algebra represent educational math games.
  • Coding games – Games teaching programming logic, concepts, and languages. Lightbot and Cargo-Bot exemplify coding games.
  • Music games – Learn rhythm, instrumentation, and music theory by playing timed challenges. Rock Band and Guitar Hero offer music education gameplay.
  • Language-learning games – Acquire new languages through vocabulary challenges, typing activities, and other language tests. Duolingo popularized language learning games.
  • History games – Major historical events and periods are experienced through interactive storytelling. The Oregon Trail and other edutainment games provided history education.

Educational games make learning interactive, engaging, and enjoyable. They show how games can teach almost any subject in a student-centered, rewarding way.

Image: Shovel Knight/Yacht Club Games

Indie Games

“Indie game” refers to games made by independent developers and small teams outside of major publishers. Here are common types of indie games:

  • Retro games – Games with a pixel art aesthetic and gameplay inspired by classic game consoles like the NES and SNES. Shovel Knight and Hyper Light Drifter exemplify the retro indie aesthetic.
  • Storytelling games – Indies prioritize compelling narratives conveyed through gameplay and environmental storytelling. What Remains of Edith Finch and Firewatch showcase indie storytelling.
  • Experimental games – Indies that subvert conventions through experimental gameplay concepts and mechanics. Braid and Portal are considered experimental indie classics.
  • Art games – Indies focused on artistic self-expression and abstraction over conventional goals. Journey and GRIS exemplify the art game aesthetic.
  • Roguelikes – Procedurally generated levels and permadeath create high replay value. The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, and Hades are hit indie roguelikes.
  • Platformers – Run, jump, and bounce through obstacle course levels and challenges. Super Meat Boy and Celeste are tough-as-nails indie platformers.
  • Metroidvanias – Large interconnected 2D maps reward exploration to unlock power-ups that access new areas. Hollow Knight and Ori and the Blind Forest demonstrate the Metroidvania genre.

Indie games allow creators to experiment and take risks rarely seen in big-budget games. Unique visions thrive in the indie space.

Image: Horizon Zero Dawn/Guerrilla Games/Sony

Game Genre Combinations

Game genres often blend elements from different categories to create hybrid experiences:

  • Action RPGs – Combine real-time combat with roleplaying mechanics. Diablo, Dark Souls, and Horizon Zero Dawn demonstrate fused action and RPG systems.
  • Tactical shooters – Integrate tactical squad management with shooter gameplay. XCOM, Gears Tactics, and Frozen Synapse merge tactics and gunplay.
  • Stealth action – Combine stealth mechanics with action combat and acrobatics. Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, and Assassin’s Creed unify stealth and action.
  • Immersive sims – Incorporate FPS gameplay with simulation mechanics and emergent interactions. Deus Ex, Dishonored, and Prey exemplify immersive sims.
  • Puzzle-platformers – Blend platforming challenges with inventory-based, physics, and logic puzzles. Portal expertly synthesizes puzzle and platforming elements.
  • Roguelite shooters – Fuse the procedural generation and permadeath of roguelikes with shooter gameplay. Risk of Rain, Enter the Gungeon, and Returnal adds shooter elements to the roguelike formula.
  • Survival horror – Integrate horror themes and settings with survival mechanics and action gameplay. Resident Evil, The Last of Us, and Silent Hill 2 demonstrate survival horror fusions.

Hybrid genres expand gameplay possibilities by merging the best aspects of multiple game types into singular experiences.

Image: Mortal Kombat/NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros.

Competitive Multiplayer Games

Multiplayer games pit players against each other in contests of skill and strategy. Popular competitive genres include:

  • Fighting games – Face off using unique characters with special moves and combos. Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., and Mortal Kombat are landmark fighting game franchises.
  • Battle royale games – Scavenge weapons and gear to be the last player standing out of dozens of combatants. Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG spearheaded the battle royale genre.
  • Hero shooters – Teams of players with unique hero abilities compete in objective-based modes. Overwatch, Paladins, and Valorant exemplify the hero shooter genre.
  • RTS games – Harvest resources and command armies to overwhelm opponents and destroy their base. Starcraft and Command & Conquer are foundational real-time strategy series.
  • Fighting games – Go head-to-head using special moves and combos unique to each fighter. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Super Smash Bros. are landmark fighting game franchises.
  • Sports games – Video game adaptations of popular sports like football, soccer, basketball, hockey, and more. FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, and NHL are leading sports game series.

Competitive multiplayer requires mastery of skills like fast reactions, strategic positioning, and teamwork. Outplaying human opponents creates intense, rewarding experiences.

Image: Minecraft/Mojang Studios

Open-World Exploration Games

Open-world games encourage exploration across vast, freely-navigated environments. Major open-world genres:

  • Sandbox games – Unstructured open worlds give players the freedom to approach goals creatively. Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, and Red Dead Redemption exemplify sandbox game design.
  • RPGs – Progress characters across expansive worlds undertaking quests and side activities. The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, The Witcher 3, and Horizon Zero Dawn demonstrate open-world RPGs.
  • Action-adventure games – Traverse interactive worlds overcoming environmental puzzles and enemies. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the modern Tomb Raider trilogy are open-world action adventures.
  • Survival games – Stay alive by managing needs like hunger, thirst, and shelter across hostile open environments. Subnautica, The Long Dark, and Valheim thrust players into survival sandbox worlds.
  • Immersive sims – Explore systemic worlds enabling creative problem-solving through emergent interactions. Deus Ex, Dishonored 2, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain exemplify immersive sim open worlds.
  • Virtual life games – Live a virtual life within expansive interactive worlds. Animal Crossing and The Sims 4 empower open-ended gameplay.

From lonely wilderness to bustling cities, open worlds grant players agency to leave their mark on a virtual world. Exploration and discovery take center stage.

This covers the major types of video games spanning key genres and hybrids. Games continue to innovate and evolve, blending genres into fresh interactive experiences. However, understanding gaming’s core genres provides context to appreciate titles both old and new.

Image: Resident Evil/Capcom

Horror Games

Horror games aim to scare players through unsettling environments, jump scares, and terrifying enemies. Popular horror genres include:

  • Survival horror – Combat and escape nightmarish creatures while conserving scarce resources. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Evil Within are seminal survival horror franchises.
  • Psychological horror – Disturbing storytelling and atmospherics provide dread instead of outright jump scares. Silent Hill 2, Layers of Fear, and SOMA exemplify psychological horror.
  • Stealth horror – Avoid and hide from pursuers rather than engage them directly. Alien: Isolation, Outlast, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent immerse players in stealth horror.
  • Action-horror – Fight off hordes of enemies using an arsenal of weaponry. The Evil Within, Dead Space, and Dying Light blend action and horror.
  • Roguelite horror – Procedurally generated levels and permadeath heighten unpredictability. Darkest Dungeon, World of Horror, and The Binding of Isaac take horror roguelite.
  • VR horror – VR’s immersion and spatial presence intensify fright. Resident Evil 7, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR, and The Exorcist: Legion VR deliver terrifying VR.

Horror games trigger primal emotions of anxiety, panic, and terror in players. Tense cat-and-mouse gameplay keeps players on edge even without overt violence.

Image; Beat Saber/Beat Games/Oculus

Rhythm Games

Rhythm games challenge players to perform actions synchronized to music and beats. Popular rhythm game genres:

  • Music/rhythm games – Time button presses to match prompts cascading down the screen. Guitar Hero and Rock Band made rhythm games mainstream.
  • Rhythm tap games – Tap the screen rhythmically when prompted. Geometry Dash, Beat Saber, and Arcaea pioneered mobile tap rhythm games.
  • Rhythm runners – Characters automatically run along procedurally generated tracks in sync with the beat. Temple Run and Subway Surfers added a rhythmic dimension to endless runners.
  • Dance games – Mimic dance movements shown by on-screen avatars. Dance Dance Revolution led the dance game craze. Just Dance continues the genre.
  • DJ games – Queue songs, mix tracks, and manipulate sound effects like a DJ. Fuser and DropMix let players DJ.

Rhythm games add musical challenges that test hand-eye coordination and sense of timing. Catchy soundtracks make following beats intuitive and enjoyable.

Image: Diablo 4/Blizzard

Co-op Games

Co-op games enable groups of players to progress through challenges together. Popular cooperative game genres:

  • Co-op shooters – Team up to battle AI enemies in FPS campaigns and horde modes. Halo, Borderlands, and Left 4 Dead thrive on co-op shooting.
  • Action RPGs – Form parties to quest and raid across sprawling worlds. Diablo, Path of Exile, and Destiny design RPG systems around co-op.
  • Tactics games – Control squad members cooperatively to outmaneuver AI opponents. Gears Tactics, XCOM, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle focus on cooperative tactics and strategy.
  • Party games – Compete and collaborate in fun casual minigames perfect for social gatherings. Overcooked, Moving Out, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes hit the party game sweet spot.
  • Survival games – Band together to gather resources, craft tools, and build shelters. Minecraft, Valheim, and Don’t Starve promote cooperative survival.
  • Story games – Experience narrative adventures as an ensemble cast. It Takes Two and A Way Out paces stories around co-op puzzles and actions.

Co-op multiplayer builds camaraderie through shared challenges. Supporting each other fosters lasting social memories.

This overview covers the diversity of experiences across key video game genres. Games offer endless fun through their creative combinations of interaction, rules, and presentation.

Image: Mario Kart/Nintendo

Racing Games

Racing games allow players to speed through tracks and courses using various vehicle types. Popular racing game genres include:

  • Arcade racers – Emphasize fast-paced, over-the-top racing action with loose physics. Need for Speed, Burnout, and Forza Horizon exemplify arcade racing.
  • Simulation racers – Aim to realistically model real-world vehicle handling and racing dynamics. Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa, and iRacing are hardcore racing sims.
  • Kart racers – Players race cartoonish go-karts picking up weapons and power-up items. Mario Kart established kart racing conventions.
  • Futuristic racers – Use sci-fi vehicle designs enabling extreme speed and physics-defying maneuvers. WipEout, F-Zero, and Fast RMX feature slick futuristic racing.
  • Off-road racers – Traverse rough terrain and natural obstacles using rugged vehicles. DiRT, ATV Offroad Fury, and Trackmania Turbo test off-road racing skills.
  • Motorcycle racers – Players control speedy motorbikes negotiating twisting circuits. Milestone’s MotoGP and RIDE series lead motorcycle racing.
  • Stunt racers – Perform outrageous aerial stunts and set-piece moments while still racing to the finish lines. Trackmania and Trials fuse racing and stunts.

Racing games capture the thrill of high-speed competition and push vehicles to their limits. Diverse driving experiences cater to all types of racing fans.

Image: Metal Gear Solid/Konami

Stealth Games

Stealth games challenge players to use cover, diversion, and subterfuge to avoid detection. Significant stealth game genres include:

  • Stealth action – Combine agile stealth with combat abilities and tools. Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, and Metal Gear Solid integrate stealth action.
  • Tactical stealth – Slower-paced stealth focused on preparation and meticulous execution. Commandos, Desperados 3, and Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun exemplify methodical tactical stealth.
  • Immersive sims – Stealth arises naturally from interacting with systemic worlds. Deus Ex, Dishonored, and Thief incorporate stealth through their simulated game worlds.
  • Stealth horror – Evade and hide from pursuers rather than directly engage. Alien: Isolation, Outlast, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent immerse players in stealth horror.
  • Stealth platformers – Hide from enemies and use the environment to avoid detection while platforming. Mark of the Ninja and the 2D Metal Gear Solid games add stealth to platforming.
  • Stealth sandboxes – Open worlds and levels that can be traversed completely through stealth. Hitman, Sniper Elite 4, and Aragami let players stay undetected.

Stealth tests players’ situational awareness, patience, and ability to exploit patterns. Outmaneuvering opponents without alerting them provides a cerebral, empowering game experience.

This gives a comprehensive overview of the diversity of genres across the video game medium. New genres and genre hybrids continue to emerge as games evolve. However, understanding gaming’s many varieties provides helpful context for newcomers and seasoned players alike.

Image: Fortnite/Epic Games via Gamepedia

Shooter Games

Shooters test players’ aim and reflexes in gun-based combat. Some core shooter genres include:

  • First-person shooters (FPS) – Players experience the action through the eyes of the protagonist. Doom, Call of Duty, Halo, and Counter-Strike define first-person shooting.
  • Third-person shooters – The player character is visible on screen and maneuvered with full 3D movement. Gears of War, Splinter Cell, Fortnite, and Uncharted feature third-person shooting.
  • Tactical shooters – Gameplay emphasizes realistic team tactics and mechanics like ballistics modeling. Rainbow Six, Arma, and Escape from Tarkov exemplify tactical military shooting.
  • Looter shooters – RPG-inspired loot and character progression systems enhance shooter gameplay. Destiny, The Division, and Borderlands merge shooting and loot mechanics.
  • Hero shooters – Teams of players with unique abilities battle in multiplayer objective modes. Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, and Valorant typify the hero shooter.
  • Battle Royale – Dozens of shooters fight to be the last one standing as a play zone shrinks. Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG popularized battle royale shooting.

Shooters provide visceral, adrenaline-pumping challenges requiring steady aim and quick reactions. A focus on gunplay and combat gives shooters widespread appeal.

Image: Tekken/Bandai Namco

Fighting Games

Fighting games pit characters in close-quarters combat using signature moves and combos. Major fighting game genres include:

  • 2D fighters – Characters battle on a 2D plane, often representing distinct fighting styles. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and The King of Fighters established 2D fighting.
  • 3D fighters – Characters move and fight in full 3D arenas similar to real-life brawling. Tekken, Dead or Alive, and Soulcalibur enabled 3D fighting gameplay.
  • Platform fighters – Draw from platforming game elements for unique multiplayer fighting dynamics. Super Smash Bros. pioneered multiplayer platform fighting.
  • Arena fighters – Flashy special moves punctuate battles between groups of players in 3D arenas. Dragon Ball FighterZ and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm showcase arena fighters.
  • Weapon fighters – Equip characters with medieval close-combat weapons like swords, axes, and spears for duels. Soulcalibur and For Honor focus on armed melee combat.
  • Arcade-style – Heavily grounded in arcade tradition with limited move sets for accessibility. Mortal Kombat 11 and Street Fighter V exemplify the return to arcade-style fighting fundamentals.

Fighting games let players experience intense martial arts showdowns and demonstrations of skill. Competing to master signature fighters provides lasting fun.

This gives a wide-ranging overview covering the breadth of experiences across video game genres. Innovations continue to expand gaming’s boundaries. However, understanding the foundations provides helpful context.


While today’s video games offer more diversity than ever before, genres bring order to the medium’s broad spectrum of interactive experiences.

Understanding different types of video games gives you the knowledge to discover new titles tailored specifically to your tastes. But don’t be afraid to genre bend occasionally by trying completely unfamiliar styles too. You might discover a new favorite franchise. From thrilling shooters to strategic simulations, the interactive adventures available span every genre you can imagine.

FAQs – The Most Popular Types of Video Game Genres

How many main genres of video games are there?

There are around a dozen major video game genres. Some of the most common ones include action, adventure, RPG, simulation, strategy, sports, puzzle, party, and educational games. However, genres are not strictly defined and there can be a lot of overlap between different game types.

What are the top 3 game genres?

The top 3 most popular video game genres based on sales and player count are:

  1. Action games – Emphasize challenging gameplay requiring skill, reflexes, and quick thinking. Some sub-genres are shooters, platformers, fighting games, and hack & slash games.
  2. Role-playing games (RPGs) – Players control customizable characters on story-driven quests and adventures. RPG sub-genres include action RPGs, MMORPGs, and tactical RPGs.
  3. Sports games – Simulate popular real-world sports like football, soccer, basketball, racing, and more. Best-selling franchises include FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, and Gran Turismo.

What is the most common game genre?

The most common video game genre is arguably action games. This encompasses many of the most popular game franchises such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto (GTA), The Legend of Zelda, and God of War. Action games make up around a quarter to a third of video game sales.

What are the basic types of games?

The basic game genres and types include:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Role-playing (RPG)
  • Simulation
  • Strategy
  • Sports
  • Puzzle
  • Party/Social
  • Educational
  • Racing
  • Fighting

What is the difference between game type and genre?

Game type refers to the general interaction pattern and objectives of a game, such as action, strategy, or puzzle.

Genre is more specific and implies common conventions, settings, and game mechanics within a type.

For example, first-person shooters and platformers are genres within the action game type. RPG genres include JRPGs, action RPGs, MMORPGs, and more – all within the broader RPG game type.

Tom Velasco

Tom Velasco

I'm just a regular guy who loves hobbies. I'm also the creator of Hobbyist To Riches, where I've spent the last 15 years trying out all kinds of hobbies that make life happier and financially rewarding. My adventures have taken me around the world to immerse in different cultures and their diverse pastimes. I love sharing this journey of discovering new passions!

More Posts

Copyright © 2023 Hobbyist to Riches