What are Game Genres?
A game genre is just a method for classifying games using vague criteria with no fixed boundaries.
It should be noted that because the casual games industry is still a nascent industry, a common classification scheme has not yet evolved to the same extent as that of the traditional (hardcore) gaming sector.
Nevertheless, there are numerous criterion used by the industry to classify casual games. One of these - based on the type of game - gave rise to the following game genres: downloadable, skill and web games.
Casual Game Genres
Probably the most popular criterion used by the casual games industry today is based on the type of game play. Using this yields the following casual game genres, together with a brief description of each:
- Action games. Action games are perhaps the most basic of casual game genres, and certainly one of the broadest. These games require a player to participate in some kind of action in order to complete and/or win the game.
- Adventure games. Denotes any game where the emphasis is based on experiencing a story through the manipulation of one or more user-controlled characters and the environment they exist in. Game play mechanics emphasizes decision over action.
- Arcade games. Signifies an arcade-like game, whose game play mimics or is inspired by a traditional coin-operated arcade game. Arcade games do not usually require much puzzle-solving, complex thinking or strategy skills; rather, the focus is based on a players reflexes.
- Board games. Board games are nothing more than computer simulations of traditional board games where game play involves two or more players.
- Card games. As with board games, card games are also computer simulations of traditional card games such as poker, gin rummy, solitaire, etc. These games can either be single-player games (i.e. a gamer playing against the computer) or multi-player games (i.e. gamers playing against each other).
- Casino games. These are computer simulations of games such as slots found in most land-based and online casinos. In the context of casual gaming, these games are usually played for free that is, you do not have to register and deposit money into a casino account in order to play casino games.
- Puzzle games. By far the most popular of the casual game genres, these include any game in which the players primary objective is to solve one or more puzzles. Puzzle games are aimed at testing a players logical thinking and, if the game has to be completed within a specified period of time, a players reaction. As a sub-genre, matching puzzle games represent the largest number of casual games developed today. Here, the player is faced with a grid of a limited variety of objects. The objective of the matching game is to swap, drag, shoot or transform these objects to create sets of two, three or more. Once a set has been created it is automatically removed from the grid in exchange for points. Some puzzle games also contain "power-up" objects that are used to clear larger parts of the grid or award bonus points including them.
- Simulation games. The idea behind a simulation game is to model real or fictional world situations. Some simulation games are designed and built to model the real world while others simulate a fictional world. Still others (e.g. The Sims 2) are designed to do both.
- Sports games. These are games that simulate the playing of traditional sports games. Almost every well known sport has been recreated with a game, including baseball, basketball, bicycling, bowling, boxing, cricket, fishing, football (American) golf, hockey (including ice hockey), hunting, pool/snooker, racing, rugby, sailing, skate and snow boarding, soccer (European), tennis, volleyball and wrestling. Some games emphasize actually playing the sport, while others focus on the strategy behind the sport.
- Strategy games. One of the emerging game genres in the casual games industry, these are a broad group of games which include role playing and tycoon games. Common themes include character building, adventure simulations and business scenarios. Casual strategy games are generally less complex than many of their hardcore counterparts, but they succeed by utilizing engaging scenarios and characters to satisfy casual gamers.
- Word games. After puzzle games, these represent the second largest category of casual games. In general, the goal of word games is to form a word or a phrase out of the letters or words appearing on a grid. Word games are aimed at helping players improve their spelling and writing kills.
Popular Casual Game Genres
Which of the above do gamers rank as the most popular casual game genres?
When asked to name their favorite casual game genres in a PopCap Games survey, 85% of respondents selected puzzle, 62% selected word, 61% selected arcade and 51% selected card games as their number one choice.
Similarly, 67% of respondents from a Trymedia Systems (the parent company of Trygames) survey ranked puzzle, 44% card, 35% strategy and 34% action games as their top casual game genres.