What are game Genres?

Genres or game genres is a term used for the classification of games. A genre of a game generally outlines what type of game it is, how it is going to play, what type of content it may carry. For example a FPS (First person shooter) game will always be associated with violence and violent content. The broad nature of the game will be one where you will have to shoot up a bunch of enemies to reach your objective or your intended goals. A FPS game could have a storyline where you could fight your way across alien worlds or engage enemy troops in combat in some war episode. Essentially the experience remains the same.

Classification of games

Classification of games is not always systematic and many individual games can easily fit into one, two or may be even more genres. Some types of games do not fit into any type of genre. Sometime there is no absolute way of saying which games belong to a genre, because genres are by necessity defined abstractly. The point of classifying a game to a particular genre has more to do with marketing than anything else. A first person shooter has a certain audience which the developers and the publishers want to reach out to. Genre classification helps them achieve that.

Game genres can”t be made too rigid, this is because of the fact that games are essentially an art form. Any piece of art can and should maintain some sort of ambiguity with regards to its form and nature allowing the artist to achieve a true unique piece of work. The other reason is that there are some truly amazing games out there which will find it difficult to place themselves in a rigid genre lineage. Such games may not get marketed and eventually not get made.


Like most taxonomic entities, genre is open to dispute. So much so there are continuous ramblings on forum posts on this very topic. Ultimately all of this has given rise to Sub-Genres. As the name would suggest, sub-genres are genres inside genres. As if genres themselves weren’t confusing enough, sub-genres can sometimes add fuel to the fire making matters even more complicated.

How are games classified

New games are classified based on already published games. If a game is similar to a game that is already classified into a genre, then the game gets that genre. So how were the very first genres made? How do new genres evolve? Well, the ihobo site say genres have been defined by the games that establish the new genre. When Wolfenstein was first distributed, it was considered to be a new sub-genre of the Shooter category – a first person (3D) shooter. There were games before Wolfenstein which comfortably fit into this genre, but it was the arrival of this particular game (and its successor), Doom which defined the new genre category, the FPS genre.

ihobo considers a true genre to be a particular unique category of games, and a sub-genre to be a division of that genre. For example, 2D scrolling shooters can be considered a sub-genre of Shooters.

In the ihobo taxonomy the highest level genre categories are considered Phyla, in parallel to the typical way animals are categorised. Each Phylum is then divided into Classes, Orders and Families. The use of these terms is explained in the taxonomy. Each Phylum is considered a Genre, and each sub-category of a Phylum is considered a Sub-genre. There are also Pseudo-genres, which describe a stylistic element of games, rather than the core of the game play (such as Survival Horror).

Types of Genres

Further reading

Conclusion and background

Most sources about this topic that I found were far form conclusive. Maybe this is because game genres is such an abstract topic. Every different website has a different genre classification. Personally, I think that game developers should concentrate on having a good game play for their games and leave the genre classification debates to the gamers and people that have too much time on their hands.

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