Video Games For The Uninitiated - Game Genres
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.
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.
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.
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 :
- First, you'll investigate the crime scene
- Then you'll follow up leads to work out what is going on
- 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.
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.
What's your favourite type of video game?
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!
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.