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What types of games are there?

This is actually something of a complicated question. Like books, movies and music, video games come in various styles called "genres". But, what makes it complicated is that video games genres are more fluid and dynamic than those found in other media. Video game genres frequently merge, specialize and mutate, making it very difficult to catalog them. New genres are also appearing out of nowhere as developers experiment with new ways of making interactive entertainment.

Despite the obvious difficulty in listing genres, knowing about them can be very useful when shopping for new games. If you like a game in one genre, you'll probably like other things in that genre. The other main benefit is that once you know what genre a game belongs to, you can more or less predict what sort of content it will have.

Because it's almost impossible to create a simple list out of the many possible genres out there, I've only provided an overview of the major genres below. You can get very selective and picky about categorizing games, so I'll try to keep things as simple as I can.

Action

Like movies, action games focus more on constant conflicts and rapid action sequences. The player's reflexes are going to be what determines whether or not they succeed or fail, and the game is likely to be somewhat unforgiving. Many action games have a simplistic plot, and the content is likely to be somewhat violent.

Adventure

These games focus on telling a story, with the player controlling the protagonist. In order to advance in the game, the player needs to take actions that would move the story along. One common example would be finding a way to cross a barrier, open a locked door or locating some artifact. Games that focus on stories can venture into almost any direction and can contain nearly any sort of content.

First Person Shooter / Third Person Shooter

Known for being violent and often graphic, these games involve using high powered weaponry on various types of enemies. The main difference between them is where the "camera" is located. In First Person Shooters, you're literally looking through the eyes of your character and see the game's world from their perspective. In Third Person Shooters, you are more distant, seeing the world from an invisible camera positioned above and behind your character's shoulder.

Hidden Object

One of the quieter genres out there, these games walk the player through various static scenes full of random objects and the player's task is to search through the scenes to find specific objects, like a scavenger hunt. Some feature Point and Click Adventure style puzzles and minigames. Most Hidden Object games also have a story to tie everything together. These stories are often mysteries that use the scavenger hunt like gameplay as an analogue for searching for clues. Content wise, these games can go pretty much anywhere, though most of them are pretty tame.

Horror

Sometimes, it's just fun to let yourself be scared. Horror fans know this, and there's a lot of games that exist just to creep the player out and give them a good scare. Some involve trying to avoid a monster that's quietly stalking them, while others are much more direct about having things come after you. These games can be problematic when it comes to their content, as they frequently touch on grotesque or very disturbing topics and visuals.

Puzzle

While quick reflexes can help with some of the puzzle games out there, the feature they have in common is their focus on testing your brain. Some puzzle games feature stories to tie the levels together, while others just offer the puzzles themselves and let you loose to figure out their solution. One of the most popular subgenres of puzzle games are Match 3s, which are games that have you clear elements from a grid by matching three or more of the same object. Puzzle games are usually some of the tamest and least objectionable games out there.

Shoot 'em Up

This type of game hails from the earliest days of the arcades, and it's managed to remain popular throughout history. The player's character is usually a spaceship or vehicle of some sort, and flies through the levels shooting down scores of enemies. While there's usually a story, it's typically given a backseat to the action. Most shoot 'em ups are squeaky clean, as they don't involve anything beyond blowing up robots or enemy ships.