Top 5: Gaming Genres

5. First Person Shooter
Notable Entries: Doom, Halo, Call of Duty, Pretty much every game of the PS3/Xbox360 cycle, Overwatch

MW3Halo proved that a console could survive with only one good game…and then go on to build an empire. Doom was the whipping boy for Senators claiming video games were ruining the youths of a nation. FPS have evolved through the years with the inclusion of a second analog stick (going back to GoldenEye is extremely painful), shoulder buttons and benefit more from online infrastructure than any other genre on the list. The genre is focusing more on team based encounters and was the tip of the spear for the eSports revolution. Though annualized franchises like Call of Duty cause some circles to feel the genre is oversaturated, sales say otherwise and newcomers such as Titanfall, Battlefront and Overwatch prove the genre can still grow in scope and popularity.


4. Platformer
Notable Entries: Super Mario World, Mega Man 3, most games on the NES, Shovel Knight

Super Mario Bros 3 Box ArtNot the first video game, but probably the most important was the humble platformer Super Mario Bros which launched on the NES. This is for many their first introduction into the world of gaming and is potentially the most recognizable entry created. The 2D version of the genre, which I’m specifically referencing here, isn’t as flashy or popular as its 3D cousin but still remains one of the purest and enjoyable forms of gameplay. Platformer titles typically contain little story and survive completely based upon how fun the mechanics are. Gameplay is king and platformers are the king of gameplay. The soul of most of these games were refined during the NES era and most titles are different variations of the genre Shigeru Miyamoto perfected with Mario world 1-1.


Notable Entries: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IX, Persona 4, best games from the PSX era, Ni No Kuni

FFVII Cover ArtWhereas story might be irrelevant for platform titles, it is the framework and strength which JRPG titles are measured. The best versions of these titles balance a robust, diverse cast of characters with personalities and relationships the player can relate to against large set pieces and fantastical environments. These sprawling epics allow the player to grow with the protagonist as they begin a simple fetch quest and then are caught up in events which spiral into a larger narrative than the humble beginnings hinted. The text heavy nature of the genre isn’t for everyone but does offer the greatest depth of storytelling and opportunity to raise philosophical or psychological questions the player might not have pondered otherwise. JRPG titles had their heyday during the PSX era with a litany of strong titles and it looks like we are in for a second-wave of strong entries in the coming year.


2. Strategy
Notable Entries: Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force, other underrated cult-classics, XCOM

Slider StrategySometimes the greatest weakness of a JPRG ends up being the battle system – it is a delicate balance to juggle turn based combat, passive button prompts and the grindy nature of the games against a 60+ hour story. Strategy games manage to build off the strengths of JRPG titles but with an extremely engaging, thoughtful and interactive battle system. Strategy games challenge the player with limited resources, sometimes no leveling up options, scaling battles and a punishing AI. The learning curve associated with this genre is typically larger than others and the variations available in combat, how quickly a single encounter can go sideways end up making victory that much more fulfilling.


1. 3rd Person Action-Adventure
Notable Entries: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, inFamous, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed II, best of the best of the best, with honors, The Last of Us

Uncharted 4The perfect mixture of storytelling and gameplay. Third-person adventure games transition the player into the role of a protagonist on a journey, sometimes of self-discovery other times through an epic narrative that unfolds through a tight, focused narrative. There is minimal backtracking and optional side quests which enhance, not distract from the journey.

You are Nathan Drake. You are Batman. These titles have a defined role for their character and don’t become burdened with customization and a wondering narrative like in open-world titles. The controlled environment, encounters and experiences allow the developers to create an adventure where assets, coding and gameplay are focused on facets of the game players will see. When everything matters, everything has an opportunity to shine.


Those are my favorite genres – what are yours? Are you frustrated that I didn’t include MOBA, farming simulators or mobile games? Are you in perfect alignment with the top 5 genres in gaming today? Sound off in the comments below.

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