A video game is an organized, structured form of interactive play, generally undertaken for fun or entertainment and occasionally used as a teaching tool. Most games are self-contained; the player assumes an adventurer’s role, exploring a virtual world, overcoming challenges, unlocking secrets, overcoming enemies, progressing through the game, earning levels, winning levels, etc., while experiencing the rewarded sensation of having a lot of fun. Games are different from work, usually done for remuneration, and in comparison, to art, which is generally an expression of philosophical or aesthetic elements. However, all games have one common feature: the player requires skill, experience, patience, etc., to succeed.
There are many types of games, the most popular ones being simulation games (e.g., Monopoly, Risk, Chess, Strategi), action games (e.g., Pac Man, Marble City, Backgammon), and board games (e.g., Clue, Quester, Candyland, Risk). Each of these has at its core a set of rules specifying how to play. Often, the game’s object is to obtain a set number of points, accumulate them, make purchases, earn stars, etc., to advance to more sophisticated levels, typically awarding achievement certificates when completed. As in real life, success hinges on taking a calculated risk. Although real-life strategies can be practiced, simulation games rely on logic and chance; the outcome of a game is unrelated to whether the player has practiced and learned the game’s rules.
The earliest type of game that evolved for the computer age was adventure games. These involved finding a location in the virtual world with a story, item, or another essential component, and working to uncover it and use it to progress the storyline. Adventure games gave players a reason to go out into the virtual world and experience something that they otherwise could not; they gave them a reason to go outside and enjoy the sun, air, and fun. However, as the genre became more established, it focused on narrative gaming and less on the actual gameplay. Still, with more modern games such as World of Warcraft and Pokémon, players are offered a much greater variety of games that will allow them to experience all sorts of genres within the single-game itself.
Another early type of game mechanic was the simulation of reality. Unlike adventure games, which were all about discovering something exciting and rewarding within the game itself, simulation games were centered on achieving a goal by following a series of prescribed steps. For example, in this type of game, players would need to build an oil rig in the ocean to gather oil. The objective would be to drill for oil and transport it to refineries successfully. The player could follow a series of instructions and earn rewards along the way.
A great many first-person shooter games fall into this category, as do many role-playing video games. In these games, a player assumes a character’s role within the story and uses various game mechanics to accomplish multiple tasks. For instance, in a zombie shooting game, the player must shoot zombies while avoiding their attacks. The gameplay in these types of games is often challenging, as a player must make quick, often split-second decisions based on limited ammunition and limited amounts of health.
An exciting development in this genre occurred with the release of Grand Theft Auto. Although the game’s overall concept was more oriented towards adventure games, it slowly began to move toward the action-adventure genre. There is much more questing involved in this type of play, although the action is still centered on exploring different situations within the game. For example, in Grand Theft Auto, players can explore a city to find collectible items such as jewelry, money, vehicles, and so forth. These items can then be used to buy upgrades for your character, giving you access to more advanced weapons and abilities.
The last major subgenre to be mentioned is the simulation games. These are much more simplified than most other genres, often downplaying or completely ignoring player interaction. Some of the most popular simulation games include Auto Truck, Flight Simulator, Parachute game, and the text-based Sleeping Cities.
The last major subgenre to discuss is role-playing games. In this category, you will find games that focus on creating characters to interact with the environment. For example, in Baldur’s Gate, players are not forced to take on the persona of one of several different names within the game; instead, you create your personality and take on that persona throughout the game, affecting how that character behaves. Baldur’s Gate, however, is probably the best-known example of this subgenre. Other examples of this subgenre include Riddle of the Sphinx, Darwinian, Stranglehold, and even Xenon Pearl’s Ever After. Most role-playing games revolve around some form of fantasy or sci-fi, but the real-time strategy games offer a unique hybrid of genres; in doing so, they allow their players to experience a unique set of challenges while at the same time providing a gratifying experience.