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What Are the Different Kinds of Video Game Genres?

What Are the Different Kinds of Video Game Genres?


Video games come in an incredible variety of styles and gameplay experiences. Over the decades, distinct genres have emerged that each offer their own flavors of interactivity. Game genres help players understand at a glance what kinds of challenges and experiences a game will offer. In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular video game genres and their subgenres and highlight some notable examples of each.

Adventure Games

Adventure games emphasize story, exploration, puzzle solving, and inventory management over action. Players uncover the narrative at their own pace through point-and-click interfaces or 3D worlds. Puzzles test players’ logic and inventory management skills.

Popular Subgenres:

Point-and-Click: Puzzle and story-driven games with a point-and-click interface. Ex: Monkey Island, Grim Fandango

Visual Novels: Text and narrative-focused adventures with minimal gameplay. Ex: Doki Doki Literature Club, Ace Attorney

Interactive Movie: Limited interaction over video playback. Ex: Late Shift, The Bunker

Adventure Game Genre

Action Games

Action games test and reward players’ reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time. The gameplay is fast-paced, with a focus on combat, explosions, and epic moments. Popular subgenres include shooters, fighting games, hack and slash, and more.

Popular Subgenres:

Shooters: First and third-person shooting at enemies. Ex: Doom, Gears of War

Fighting Games: Head-to-head battles with combo systems. Ex: Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat

Hack and Slash: Melee combat against swarms of enemies. Ex: God of War, Dynasty Warriors

Action Game Genre

SPorts Games

Sports games let players experience their favorite sports virtually on the field and as a manager. Controls and rules mirror professional sporting events with varying degrees of realism. Management modes also allow guiding a franchise to championships. This game genre is always a trend in the video game industry.

Popular Subgenres:

Simulation: Realistic physics and controls aim to capture authentic gameplay. Ex: FIFA, NBA 2K

Arcade: Simplified pickup and play experiences focusing on fun. Ex: NBA Jam, NFL Blitz

Management: Build teams through trades, drafts, and training. Ex: Football Manager, OOTP Baseball

Simulation Game Genre

Simulation Games

Simulations replicate real-world activities, from piloting vehicles to running a business. Some aim for utter realism, while others take the artistic license of game art services for fun and accessibility. Management, construction, sports, and vehicles are common subjects.

Popular Subgenres:

Flight Sims: Piloting aircraft in authentic arcade flight models. Ex: Microsoft Flight Sim, Ace Combat

Business/City: Building and managing businesses, cities, parks, etc. Ex: SimCity, Restaurant Empire

Vehicle Driving: Driving cars, trucks, and trains in realistic environments. Ex: Euro Truck Simulator, Forza Horizon

Life Sims: Creating characters and managing daily life. Ex: The Sims, Animal Crossing

Simulation Game Genre


Platformers are 2D, side-scrolling games challenging players to run, jump, and climb through perilous courses. Hazards and enemies must be overcome with precise timing and dexterity. Platformers dominated early gaming and remain popular today.

Popular Subgenres:

2D Traditional : Side-scrolling obstacle courses. Ex: Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog

Puzzle Platformer: Platforming integrated with puzzle mechanics. Ex: Limbo, Inside

Run and Gun: Shooter elements added to platforming. Ex: Contra, Metal Slug

Platformer game genre

Role-playing games (RPGs)

RPGs have players customize characters with unique skills, items, and abilities. Rich stories unfold through exploration, quests, and side activities. Combat blends strategic party management with action, turn-based, or tactical systems.

Popular Subgenres:

Action RPG: Real-time combat emphasizes player skill. Ex: Diablo, Path of Exile

Japanese RPG: Turn-based systems inspired by classic RPGs. Ex: Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest

Open World RPG: Exploration of vast 3D worlds with quest freedom. Ex: Skyrim, The Witcher

RPG game genres

First Person Shooters

First-person shooters (FPS) portray gun-based combat from the visual perspective of the protagonist. Fast reflexes are key for aiming, movement, and weapon switching in frenetic firefights. FPS games are a pillar of multiplayer gaming today.

Popular Subgenres:

Military FPS: Combat across sprawling maps inspired by real wars. Ex: Call of Duty, Battlefield

Hero FPS: Sci-fi and fantasy settings with powerful player characters. Ex: Doom, Overwatch

Immersive sims: Environmental interaction and emergent gameplay. Ex: BioShock, Dishonored

First Person Shooter Game Genre

Action-Adventure Games

Action-adventure games blend combat, action sequences, and exploration with puzzle solving. Environments encourage exploration and often hide secrets for inquisitive players. Action-adventure offers a diverse catch-all genre.

Popular Subgenres:

Cinematic Action-Adventure: Heavily scripted, quick time event driven experiences. Ex: Uncharted, The Last of Us

Action RPG: Roleplaying progression and loot with real-time combat. Ex: Batman: Arkham Series, Horizon Zero Dawn

Open World Action Adventure: Huge sandbox worlds. Ex: Assassin’s Creed, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Action-Adventure Games

Fighting Games

Fighting games pit players against each other in close-quarters combat. Players utilize combos, special moves, spacing, and psychology to outmaneuver the competition. Fast reactions and deep knowledge of movesets and matchups are rewarded.

Popular Subgenres:

2D Fighters: Two combatants restricted to a 2D plane. Ex: Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat

3D Fighters: Fighters battling freely in a 3D arena. Ex: Tekken, Soulcalibur

Platform Fighters: Battles across dynamic stages with platforming. Ex: Super Smash Bros

Fighting Game Genre

Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Games

RTS games task players with gathering resources, building armies, and defeating opponents in real-time without turns. Balance economic development with troop management in pitched battles across land, sea, and air.

Popular Subgenres:

Traditional RTS: Base building and unit control. Ex: Starcraft, Command & Conquer

MOBA: Teams of players, each controlling a single powerful hero. Ex: League of Legends, Dota 2

Tower Defense: Building defenses to destroy advancing enemy waves. Ex: Plants vs Zombies, Bloons TD


Racing Games

Racing games allow players to speed through tracks and courses in high-performance cars, bikes, and other vehicles. Racing ranges from realistic simulations to off-the-wall arcade experiences. Multiplayer and competitive play features heavily.

Popular Subgenres:

Simulation: Realistic driving physics and true-to-life handling. Ex: Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport

Arcade: Exciting speed and stunts over realism. Ex: Need for Speed, Mario Kart

Futuristic: Future and sci-fi vehicles and settings. Ex: F-Zero, Wipeout

Need for Speed

Shooter Games

Shooters encompass any game where shooting weapons take center stage. Unlike precise FPS games, the shooter label can apply to a wide range of gameplay and game art styles featuring guns.

Popular Subgenres:

Run and Gun: 2D side-scrolling shooting. Ex: Contra, Metal Slug

Bullet Hell: Frantic dodging of overwhelming bullet patterns. Ex: Touhou Project

Third-Person Shooter: Shooting from behind the character. Ex: Gears of War, Uncharted

Looter Shooter: RPG loot and progression systems. Ex: Borderlands, Destiny

Puzzle Games

Puzzle games challenge players’ logic, pattern recognition, and problem-solving skills. Completing puzzles and unraveling gameplay mysteries delivers intense satisfaction. Popular subgenres include physics, hidden objects, and matching puzzles.

Popular Subgenres:

Physics puzzles: Mechanic and physics-based puzzles. Ex: Portal, Half-Life 2

Matching puzzles: Matching tiles or game pieces. Ex: Candy Crush, Bejeweled

Logic puzzles: Deductive reasoning and critical thinking. Ex: Baba Is You, The Witness


Casual Games

Casual games feature simple rules and gameplay tailored to mass market appeal. Players of all backgrounds can easily pick them up and make progress regardless of skill. Short play sessions cater to mobile lifestyles.

Popular Subgenres:

Match 3: Matching tiles on a grid for points. Ex: Candy Crush, Bejeweled

Hidden Object: Finding lists of objects hidden in busy scenes. Ex: Hidden City, Hidden Through Time

Hyper Casual: Extremely simple mobile-focused games. Ex: Fruit Ninja, Flappy Bird

Strategy Games

Strategy games emphasize thoughtful planning, resource management, and grand decision-making over dexterity or reflexes. They reward analysis, creative problem-solving, and long-term strategic vision.

Popular Subgenres:

4X: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. Ex: Civilization, Endless Space

Real-Time Tactics: Real-time skirmishes with small squads. Ex: Company of Heroes, Tooth and Tail

Grand Strategy: Managing nations on a global scale. Ex: Europa Universalis IV, Crusader Kings 3

Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs (MMORPGs)

MMORPGs allow thousands of players to simultaneously inhabit expansive open fantasy worlds together online. Players customize characters and team up to quest, raid dungeons, and participate in massive PvP battles.

Popular Subgenres:

Fantasy MMORPGs: Swords and sorcery settings. Ex: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV

Sandbox MMORPGs: Open-ended gameplay and mechanics. Ex: EVE Online, Ultima Online

Action Combat: Real-time skill-based battles. Ex: Guild Wars 2, Black Desert Online

RPG Games

Stealth Games

Stealth games challenge players to avoid detection and use cover to infiltrate locations and evade enemies. Patiently hiding in shadows and plotting routes makes one feel like a predator stalking prey.

Popular Subgenres:

Tactical Espionage: Methodically infiltrating bases. Ex: Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell

Immersive Sims: Emergent stealth woven into larger games. Ex: Dishonored, Deus Ex

Stealth Horror: Eluding supernatural enemies. Ex: Alien Isolation, Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Metal Gear Solid

Party Games

Party games provide casual, social fun for groups to play together in person. They feature simple, intuitive controls and mechanics that anyone can easily pick up. Laughing together is often just as important as winning.

Popular Subgenres:

Board & Card Games: Digital adaptations of classic tabletop party games. Ex: Monopoly, Scrabble

Trivia Games: Fast-paced general knowledge trivia. Ex: You Don’t Know Jack, Trivia Murder Party

Activity Games: Offbeat mini-games and prompts. Ex: WarioWare, Jackbox Party Pack

Party Game Genre

Action RPGs

Action RPGs incorporate real-time combat requiring player skill into RPG leveling and loot systems. Fighting relies on positioning, dodging, timing, and aim instead of turn-based menus. Diablo popularized the genre.

Popular Subgenres:

Looter Shooters: FPS and TPS games with RPG gear. Ex: Borderlands, Destiny

Soulslikes: Ultra-challenging third-person melee combat. Ex: Dark Souls, Bloodborne

Isometric: Top-down view for tactical positioning. Ex: Path of Exile, Grim Dawn


Tactical RPGs

Tactical RPGs feature turn-based combat on grids allowing precise control of units. Careful positioning and strategy are required to overcome challenges. Customization adds depth when building forces.

Popular Subgenres:

Japanese TRPGs: Anime-style graphics and stories. Ex: Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem

Strategy-JRPG Hybrids: Blend of gameplay systems. Ex: XCOM, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Final Fantasy Tactics

Survival Games

Survival games challenge players to navigate harsh environments and scenarios by managing hunger, thirst, and other needs. Survival mechanics immerse players in the fundamentals of existence.

Popular Subgenres:

Survival Sandbox: Open worlds to explore. Ex: Minecraft, Valheim

Survival Horror: Surviving and escaping nightmares. Ex: The Forest, The Long Dark

Survival Simulation: Realistic survival mechanics. Ex: SCUM, This War of Mine

Don't Starve - Game Genres

Battle Royale Games

Battle royale games pit a large number of players against each other in a last-man-standing deathmatch. Players scavenge for weapons in a shrinking play zone to become the final survivor. Fortnite popularized the genre.

Popular Subgenres:

Hero Shooters: Fortnite, Apex Legends

Military Shooters: PUBG, Call of Duty Warzone



Genres help categorize the diverse range of video game experiences that have emerged over decades. But games frequently blend genres together into new combinations. The labels serve mainly to give players a general idea of a game’s strengths that match their tastes. By understanding different genres, players can more easily discover new games tailored to what they love most. The variety of genres means everyone can find interactive adventures to lose themselves in.

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