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Video Games For The Uninitiated - Game Genres

Updated on November 7, 2014
Jake's totally better than me
Jake's totally better than me | Source

All the questions you had about video games, but never thought to ask.

Do you think you never play games?

Well, think again.

In all likelihood, you may well have played a video game, without even knowing it.

Maybe Solitaire on the PC is your thing, or you grab your phone on the train for a quick session of Angry Birds.

Perhaps you've played one of the old chess games, or even the original Space Invaders in an arcade cabinet, way back when?

This is the first article in a series all about video games, what they are and how they work.

I aim to dispel some of the myths surrounding video gaming and help you get to grips with how it all works.

From graphics to controllers, I'll try to explain everything in simple, non-technical, terms.

If you don't know your Xbox from your FPS, then this is the place for you.

And you never know, you might even join our ranks as a Gamer yourself.

First up: Game Genres.

Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Ghosts - Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Xbox 360

Starting out, let's reinforce a stereotype by featuring an FPS (First Person Shooter) straight away.

FPS games are always popular amongst gamers, particularly those who love multiplayer games, where you can compete against your friends head to head, or co-operatively.

And amongst FPS games, some of the most popular cast you as a soldier and of course, soldiers shoot things.

However, believe it or not, there are differences and even nuance in how the different FPS games play.

The Call of Duty series throws everything at you in a Hollywood style action movie kind of way, whereas games like Ghost Recon or Battlefield try to make you think more tactically and work together to be victorious.

 

Game Genres

What's the game?

If your only exposure to video games is the adverts you've seen on TV, then you could be forgiven for thinking that all games are about guns.

To be fair, many of the most popular games are indeed "shooters", but there are many more choices out there than that.

Many games include a story of some kind, but it's a story in which you are directly involved.

You are the protagonist in an interactive experience - like your very own virtual book (or perhaps e-book is a more appropriate analogy).

There are many Genres in fiction and when you think of it in that way, the same is true of games.

You can find:

  • science fiction and fantasy sagas
  • detective mysteries
  • modern day techno-thrillers
  • historical melodramas.

Sometimes you'll get all the above in the same game (weird, huh?).

You could be sneaking into an enemy compound to rescue some hostages one minute, or commanding an army on the field of battle, the next.

It's not all serious stuff either, with simple games for the kids, comedy moments from your superhero of choice, or your favourite sports virtualised for your enjoyment.

Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

High Fantasy - Lord Of The Rings Style

If you like fantasy worlds and if being able to go anywhere and do anything at any time is your thing, then you can't go wrong with Skyrim.

The depth and sheer size of this game means that you will never be lost for things to do, although you may well get lost in the world that Bethesda have created for you.

Say goodbye to your social life and spend time fighting monsters, talking to weird and wonderful people, enjoying the sights and sounds of a winter landscape, delving into mysterious ruins, get married, enchant some magical items, or even do a spot of cooking!

There are many stories built into Skyrim, many of which are decidedly off the beaten track.

But some of the best stories are the ones you make up yourself or that occur almost as an afterthought as you play this game.

Detective Story

While detective stories and crime thrillers are all the rage in the book arena, most detection in games is limited to short sections inside other kinds of games.

There have been one or two games dedicated to the genre, such as those based on the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) TV series, but they have tended to be short, linear affairs.

L. A. Noire breaks the mould by placing you, the player, inside a 1950s L. A. with more homage to Humphrey Bogart et al, than you can shake a stick at.

It's open world, in the sense that you can go where you want, but each main case follows a similar formula :

  1. First, you'll investigate the crime scene
  2. Then you'll follow up leads to work out what is going on
  3. Finally you try to extract a confession from the suspect

It's in these interviews that the game truly shines.

Since they have scanned the faces of real actors in, a big part of it is watching their expressions to catch them in a lie...

If you accuse someone of being economical with the truth, then you better have the right piece of evidence to prove it, or else they'll get angry and could clam up completely.

This starts off relatively easy, but gets trickier as you go on.

Lego Plus Marvel Equals Great Times

This may be "for the kids" but I know many adults (including my wife and I) who love the Lego games.

We’ve been playing them ever since Lego Star Wars came out and the series has only improved with time.

If you’ve never played any of these games before, then know that you are in for a treat.

They take your favourite characters from your favourite movies (in this case, Iron Man, the Hulk, etc) and put them into lots of silly situations.

Always irreverent, yet mindful of fans' sensibilities, these little guys go round blasting the scenery to get lego “studs” - the game’s currency - and building lego bricks up into all kinds of useful stuff.

And the best part? Since everything is made of lego, when your character “dies” he simply falls apart and you start again nearby.

NHL Series

NHL 14 - Xbox 360
NHL 14 - Xbox 360

I’m not a sports fan myself, but if you are, then whatever your sport, there is a title to represent it in virtual form.

Electronic Arts (EA) is more or less the undisputed leader in sports simulations, with releases in Football (what you may call “Soccer"), American Football (what you call “Football”), Basketball (I think we’re on firmer ground there) and Ice Hockey, amongst others.

I occasionally dabble in an NHL game I own and I’m always amazed at how realistic the players look and how they weave commentary, using real voices, into the on screen action.

EA always release new versions of their respective franchises every year, in order to include the latest players (with their actual faces, etc), new features and tweaks to existing ones.

Whether you want to play your team through a full season with complete realism or have a single friendly match as a beginner, there are options for everyone.

For the ultimate ego trip, you can even create your own player, slap your own name on them and take them up through the little leagues to see where their career takes them.

 

Poll

What's your favourite type of video game?

See results

The Future Of Gaming

Well, that's it for this session.

I hope you have found it interesting and that I've opened your eyes to new possibilities.

Some of the topics I'll be including in this series are:

  • Game Types - FPS Or 3rd Person, A Question Of Perspective
  • Console Yourself - Which Platform Is Best For Games?
  • Graphics - How To Tell Your Resolution From Your Draw Distance
  • Sound Advice - With Subtitles
  • Control, Control, You Must Learn Control!

Stay tuned.

Did you learn something new about video games today?

Do you like or loathe them?

Would you play a shooter or something else?

Let us know below.

What Do You Think?

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    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @DreyaB: I know what you mean.

      I guess a lot of their target audience have consoles - at least as far as advertising is concerned. :)

      Thanks for your feedback.

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      @Tim Bader: That would probably be a good idea Tim - sometimes you imagine the makers just make it for the consoles... :0)

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Merrci: ...And thank you again!

      I do enjoy it - and I really appreciate you taking the time to read too.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Thanks Tim, I needed this! The variety sounds amazing in itself, especially the detective series. Love mysteries. What a great, fun niche this is. It's clear you love it!

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Margaret Schindel: Wii Fit and Sports are great fun.

      We use them to get the kids up and moving when they can't be bothered to go outside!

      Glad you like the series idea - and I hope I can oblige with some good examples that you would like.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @DreyaB: Thanks!

      I hope to cover all kinds of games in this series.

      I also want to take a look at different aspects (graphics, sounds, etc) to try to explain some of the terms reviewers use in a non-techie way.

      P.S. I'm naturally biased toward the Xbox, as I have one at the moment, but I try to pick out games that are available for all platforms - L.A Noire is available for PC too.

      Perhaps I need to make that clear for each game?

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Tim, I love the idea of this series of Video Games for the Uninitiated! I've played a few Wii Fit and Wii Sports games (and love Bejeweled, Osmos and Moxie2 on my iPhone/iPad), but I had mostly given up on finding any games that weren't shooting games or worlds where I would have to figure out secrets to unlock weapons/keys/clues, etc. The LEGO: Marvel Superheroes game sounds like fun, and you've given me hope that I may find a few more games I'd enjoy in some of your future installments. :)

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      I'm a big fan of Skyrim and that kind of thing, always avoid shooters - they're just not my thing, but like strategy and simulation games too. LA Noire sounds interesting, but I usually stick with PC games... Thanks for sharing all this - I'll look forward to seeing more in your series. :0)

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Lady Lorelei: Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    • Tim Bader profile image
      Author

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      @Lady Lorelei: Sounds like they could start up a small business, trading them all!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Forgot to say how much I love your opening photo. Too funny and oh so true lol.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      My grandchildren seem to have most of the game systems including the classics. I think the only one they are missing is the Xbox. Whenever we are out shopping garage sales they are seeking out old playstation games for that system.