It’s impossible to sum up all the great genres of video games out there, but in this list we break down five of some of the most popular genres in video games today and take a look at some of the quintessential games that shaped those genres.
First Person Shooter
First person shooters have been taking the lion’s share of the video game market for several decades now, and while some may argue the FPS genre has saturated itself to a fault, the incredible popularity of RPG/Shooter hybrids like Fallout 4 and Destiny and the premier of more innovative titles like Superhot and Dishonored give plenty of evidence that FPS’s aren’t going anyway any time soon.
While Doom wasn’t the first FPS to ever be made, it certainly was the most influential, considering incredible popularity it achieved. With some crafty shareware marketing, Doom became part of the cultural zeitgeist of procrastination, as cubicles across the country and soon the world were sneakily jamming in just one more level of mutant machine gunning before going out for a lunch break.
In the history of 3D video game technology, Doom made major strides, using pseudo 3D layout to give levels more dynamic depth and spatial representation. Your protagonist, “Doom Guy,” also was equipped with an arsenal that would become quintessential to FPS’s of the future, including the chainsaw, shotgun, chain gun, rocket launcher, plasma rifle, and of course, the BFG 9000 – the originator of OP.
Since RPG stands for Role-Playing Game, you could argue the roots of this video game genre stretch back to classic tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons and Traveller that were popularized in the 1970s. Since then, a variety of franchises have built a home for RPGs in video games, one of the most influential being Baldur’s Gate.
Baldur’s Gate (1998)
Yes, there are far older RPG’s to mention in the history books of one of the oldest genres in video games, but Baldur’s Gate had a clear influence on much of what we see in RPGs of today, and also what fans are vocally disappointed about not having in today’s RPGs.
Baldur’s Gate essentially revitalized the RPG genre at the time, enabling players to use a pausable real time mode, breaking away the constraints of static turn-based combat. It was also the first game to utilize the Infinity Engine for its graphic capabilities, an engine that would go on to be used in the litany of later Forgotten-Realms licensed titles, and other noted classics like Planescape: Torment.
Platformers tend to have a lot of…well…platforms. But that’s not all that’s great about this genre. Platformers essentially gave video game designers one of the most essential assets of all – gravity – and no doubt Mario stands alone as one of the most iconic originators in this style.
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
Mario’s first appearance was actually under another moniker “Jumpman,” and it was in another Nintendo character’s game – Donkey Kong. By 1985 though, the world would become well acquainted with this Italian plumber when Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Over 30 years later, developers are still making protagonists that run, jump, and even look like the spritey Mario.
Survival horror games operate in a curious space in the video game world. While the roots of this genre (survival, player death, finite resources, general spookiness) are firmly planted in many of the first video games ever made, especially the quintessential text-based adventures of yesteryear (Dungeon; Colossal Cave Adventure), Resident Evil is heavily credited for jump-starting this genre out of the underworld.
Resident Evil (1996)
Resident Evil pioneered the emphasis on inventory management, cinematic tension, and alternating camera angles in 3D spaces. Spawning a sprawling franchise of spin off games, films and pop culture, Resident Evil is still as relevant today as it was back then.
Strategy is hard to call a genre, since every video game employs some kind of strategy. These days though, Real-Time Strategy games (RTS games) are the bread and butter of the strategy game market, and it may be hard to imagine where competitive mainstays like DOTA 2 and League of Legends would be if it hadn’t been for the dark corners Warcraft illuminated.
World of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002)
The only game on this list that came out in the 21st century, was Blizzard Entertainment’s hugely popular Warcraft 3 more so cemented the RTS genre than pioneered it. But in a genre like RTS games, where the multiplayer community provides the evergreen that a game needs to survive for generations, Warcraft 3 set a precedent all RTS games are trying to maintain to this day.