Video games

From action to puzzles: top 5 most popular video game genres

People got acquainted with video games only in the 50s of the last century. But ever since that time the gaming industry has made a huge leap forward in its development. Primitive programs have turned into visual works of art in the matter of decades.

Nowadays developers have released so many video games that we feel the need to classify them. However, at the present moment, there is no single system of classification. Modern video games often combine a lot of different features and cannot fit into one single category.

Nevertheless, developers, journalists and players themselves divide games according to platforms, visual representation (graphics technology, the location of the game camera), release criteria (free-to-play, AAA games, indie games etc.), the number of players (single-player, multi-player). But the most popular classification is by genre.

But once again, it is necessary to understand that the game genres do not have a clear, generally accepted definition. Often, software companies cannot clearly specify the genre of their new game. One of the reasons is that the developers intend to sell the product to as many users and do not want to narrow the range of potential buyers.

The typical classification of video games based on the concept of genre is still the most popular among all representatives of the gaming industry. Therefore let’s review the most popular genres.


The actions of such games usually develop very dynamically and require a lot of attention and fast reaction to constantly changing events. At the same time, a weapon is usually used as the basic means of progress.

Action is a very extensive genre, divided into several subgenres:

Shooter is a video game subgenre where the player most often acts alone and has a goal of defeating as many enemies as possible with the help of some kind of weapon. Different developers use various characters as enemies in their game. Most often it can be bandits (Max Payne), fascists (Return to Castle Wolfenstein) or any other “bad guys”, as well as mutants and monsters (Half-Life).

A man holding a gun

Max Payne video game

Fighting is a subgenre of video games that imitates hand-to-hand combat. The main goal of the game is to defeat the opponent on the arena by using a combination of punches. Developers often insert real martial arts techniques into the game. Popular examples of fighting games are Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Guilty Gear.

Two men with armor

Mortal Kombat video game

Horror is a video game subgenre, which primary characteristic is the atmosphere of fear and anxiety that keep the player in constant tension. Such games often accompanied by riddles, puzzles, labyrinths and unexpected attacks from the enemies. Resident Evil and Amnesia: The Dark Descent are examples of horror video games.

People with guns and other weapons

Resident Evil video game


Role-Playing Game (RPG) is based on the gameplay of traditional desktop role-playing games. The player controls one or more characters, each of which has its personal abilities and skills. The most popular numerical characteristics are hit points, strength, defense, level of skill development and so on. Moreover, the set of characteristics may change during the course of the game. One of the distinguishing features of gameplay of PRG genre is the enhancement of the character’s abilities by improving its parameters and acquiring new abilities.

RPG games are often recognized by its two-dimensional graphics, development system, a wide range of inventory and dialogues. These games have a very entertaining and multiple storylines. The best examples of RPG genre are Fallout, Might and Magic.

A man riding a horse in a fantasy world

Might and Magic video game


The goal of this video game genre boils down to gaining the advantage over the opponents by developing and implementing a specific plan. Unlike in previous genres, the object of management is not an individual character, but whole corporations, armies, countries and even civilizations.

Strategy is also divided into several subgenres:

Turn-Based Strategy (TBS). The main feature of this subgenre is the fact that the players do not play simultaneously, but take turns. There is a possibility to play against one or more computer-controlled rivals. In addition, TBS has a special mode, where several people can play on one computer by replacing each other one by one. Examples: Heroes of Might and Magic, Sid Meier’s Civilization.

A landscape

Sid Meier’s Civilization video game

Real-Time Strategy (RTS) is the most popular Strategy subgenre. While playing these games, users perform their actions simultaneously. RTS games distinguish by such activities as gathering resources, camp construction, army creating and seizing of new lands. Lately, other genres start to incorporate various elements of RTS subgenre. Good examples: StarCraft, Emperor: Battle for Dune.

A landcape of a futuristic world

StarCraft video game


The main principle of the simulator game genre is the exact reproduction of features of some thematic area. Computer-mechanical simulators accurately reproduce the cabin interior. Pilots, astronauts and even high-speed train drivers often use simulators to improve their skills.

As for the video games, SimCity is a good example of this genre. This game simulates the lives of characters as well as construction and management of the city.

One of the popular sub-categories of the simulator genre is economic simulators. Such games give the player an opportunity to manage an economic system of different degree of complexity, for instance, a city (Tropico), a farm (SimFarm), a transport company (Railroad Tycoon), etc. Sometimes developers give users a chance to control exotic systems like an anthill (SimAnt) or a dungeon (Dungeon Keeper).

City landscape

SimCity video game


Quest is a narrative game where user controls the character and moves on from level to level by communicating with other characters, using objects and solving logical problems. Quests can be also divided into several sub-categories as graphic quests, puzzles and action adventure. A classic example of a game in quest genre is Space Quest or any “escape the room” type of game.

a pixel like floating car

Space Quest video game


Arcade is a video game genre with simple, yet interesting gameplay and colorful graphics. Developers love arcade genre because of its large target audience and extreme popularity among gamers. Arcade games often have an infinity feature. The player’s main goal is not to complete the game, but to collect a certain number of points or achievements in order to move up the score table. Best examples are Icy Tower, Elasto Mania, Tornado Jockey.

A man jumping on floating blocks

Icy Tower video game