Action – In this genre there is a major emphasis on reaction times and responding to threats to the character on screen. These are the typical fighting or platform jumping type games such as Mario. They sprang up from the early arcade machine days of video games and are what many think of first when they think of video games. These used to be some of the highest selling games and even today, they do well, though games with higher production values and more story elements have come to take precedent.
Shooter – This is a more recent genre that began with Wolfenstein 3D in the First Person Shooter genre, but there are also other types of shooters such as Asteroids. These games emphasize the shooting of enemies, usually in a military type setting for first person shooters and for those similar to as Asteroids and arcade-style shooters, they are generally set either in outer space dealing with a space ship or a fictional aircraft of some sort.
Adventure – These games generally involve a single player character which is more developed than in many other types of games. They emphasize the story that the characters must go through, almost as if the player were taking on the lead role in a movie. The emphasis of play is on solving quests, puzzles and other challenges within the game as the story progresses. They are normally single player rather than multi player.
Construction/Management – Often, games in this genre are considered simulations because they tend to be closer to real world settings such as the stock market or the building of historical civilizations, but they can also involve worlds of total fantasy. The goal here is to helm a large group of characters and manage the resources in the game. The emphasis is on the proper creation and allocation of resources to obtain a goal of dominance in some form or other. These can be single or multi player.
Life Simulation – The Sims is a prime example of this type of game because players will be in full control over the life of a character or small group of characters. Realistic play is paramount in this genre, but there are sometimes story elements in with the simulation of reality. Pets, plants and other things can be simulated in this genre, as long as they are life forms.
Role Playing – One of the largest and most popular genres today thanks to the ability to play online with and against other players around the world, RPGs are a huge segment of the gaming hobby. In these games, which differ from games in the adventure genre, players will take on the role of a character that they have created specifically for the game by giving them a unique name, appearance, traits, skills and abilities. These games generally involve quests and advancing a character to a hero or villain status.
Strategy – Similar to games of construction and management, these are generally war games though they can involve other settings. The goal here is to out strategize one’s opponent, whether they be human or computer, and take control of the game world by strategic use of resources.
Vehicle Simulation/Racing – These games are all about the racing of vehicles, be they cars, planes, boats or other types of transportation. They involve varying levels of realism with some games allowing for complete customization of the vehicles and offering real physics while other games are more arcade style in nature. This is an enormously popular genre.
Music/Party Games – These games are a fairly recent genre in terms of development and they focus on the fun of the gaming experience rather than obtaining specific goals, for the most part. With music games, players use special controllers to recreate the beats and melodies of songs and these are often played to the party gaming crowd, but there are also party specific games aimed at this audience which are simple and meant for group involvement with non-traditional gamers.
Puzzle Games – These games involve exactly what their name implies: puzzles. They may be along the lines of Tetris with geometric puzzles to be solved, but there are three dimensional and other games in this genre such as Portal which is a highly complex and more recent addition to this genre.
Trivia, Board & Card Games – These games evolved from pre-video game roots and are simply the digitized versions of traditional games that are played in this format. The can be played either solo such as the world famous Solitaire which came installed on Windows machines or can be played online against a host of other players.
Sports – There are video games in this genre for all of the major sports ranging from football to the Olympics, but there are also less common sports which are covered, too. These games can be both arcade style or simulation, depending upon the specific title. They almost always offer multiplayer capacity.
Educational – These come in a range of different styles and with a huge array of different themes, but the purpose of this genre is to not only educate, but to entertain. They are usually market to parents with children.
Exercise Games – These are a more recent form of game that involve players performing physical actions as a way to win points or simply for the sake of doing an interactive work out that keeps their minds busy.