Focus on the Family

Types of Video Games

Get informed about the major video game categories.

by Vicki Caruana, Chris Caruana, Olivia Bruner

There are eight major video game categories:

Action

Action games tend to have a large amount of violence due to their fast-paced nature. This is the category that most "M" (mature-rated) games fall under which are inappropriate for children. Some games are milder but may contain suggestive themes. Action games may pit person against person or person against animal/alien. Some examples of such problematic games include Halo, Star Wars: Jedi Knight and Enter the Matrix.

Adventure and Role Playing

Adventure and role playing games are usually less graphic than action games and typically have an element of surrealism and/or fantasy. Many times these games are combined with a role playing element and allow the character to initiate dialogue. While less intense than action games, they often do include violence. It should be noted that these games tend to be among the most addictive due to the narrative fantasy themes. Examples of this genre are Starfox Adventures, Final Fantasy, Legend of Mana and Billy Hatcher.

Arcade

Arcade games can be almost anything from the violent Street Fighter to the classic Pacman. This category includes games that cover the entire spectrum of ratings. Many older arcade games have been updated and turned 3-D. Some examples are Pacman, Soul Caliber 2 and Frogger.

Strategy

Strategy games most often involve tactical movement of troops and/or players. These games may be warfare based or may be as simple as chess. The content of many of these games can be appropriate for children but they tend to be difficult to play. Combat is often slower paced and allows time for strategic thinking. Some examples are Advanced Wars I & II and Chessmaster® 2000.

Simulation

Simulation games are often aircraft simulations. You get to fly a jet or a helicopter. Most have nothing more to them other than the destruction of enemies; rarely they use excessive language. Some games in this category include Secret Weapons Over Normandy and SimCity.

Driving

Driving games are most often racing, but some are also crash derby or mission-based. Players usually get a choice of car and get better and better cars over time. Some of these games are Project Gotham Racing, ATV Offroad Fury, and the highly offensive Grand Theft Auto.

Puzzle

Puzzle games are almost never rated higher than ‘E’ (for everyone). They all take thinking and logic skills. A common puzzle game is Tetris. Many others are Tetris-like or involve color matching skills. Many games incorporate puzzle aspects but are not true puzzles. Some of the puzzle-incorporating games fall under Action or Role-Playing.