As is often the case with other artforms, experts tend to have different classifications of the existing video game genres, the full list of which can be seen, for example, in this wikipedia article. Luckily, you don’t need all of this in-depth information to make your first steps in this new world, as knowing a couple of the most common game types will give you a good base.
Role-playing games. Having originated from the legendary Dungeons & Dragons, role-playing games (RPG) center around one character giving the player full control of its actions. Typically set in a fantasy or a science fiction universe, RPGs often consist of a number of quests the player has to complete in order to finish the game and advance the character. Modern representatives of the genre also feature vast open-world type locations, realistic graphics and exquisitely written stories.
Real time strategies. Those who would rather watch others act on their orders may prefer real time strategies (RTS) to RPGs, because they tend to be set in similar surroundings (think Middle-earth), but focus on nations, cities or armies rather than just one character. Essentially, you are presented with a map and a starter kit of resources and only you can decide what you will end up with (as in will you wage wars or stay a peaceful rural land).
First-person shooter. Although a modern first-person shooter (FPS) game might also feature an intricate story, as is clear from the name, weapon-based combat will be its main mechanic. It’s common for shooters to have an online version, which allows you to compete against your friends or any other player currently logged in the game.
Massively multiplayer online games. Another favored choice, massively multiplayer online games (MMO) are a peculiar combination of strategies and RPGs with open worlds and a truly “massive” number of players. Perhaps more often than any other genre, MMOs tend to have an extensive lore surrounding them with numerous fanfics, fan movies and books written about the world they are set in.
Indie games. Our basic guide wouldn’t be complete without indie games. Even though technically they can be found in any genre, we put them into one category because of what they have in common: unconventional perspectives, unique storylines and experimental narration, often incorporating music or the character’s surroundings in an extraordinary way.
But how are you supposed to choose between all of these (probably) weird-sounding terms without having any prior experience, you ask? Well, here is our list of tips that could help you in this courageous endeavor:
Step 1. Decide what it is you want to play on, as the platform is bound to influence the choice of games available to you. Will it be a PC, a console or will you opt for mobile gaming?
Step 2. The box standard: start by considering your movie or book preferences, any of your already existing hobbies or interests. Even though we often log into games to experience something completely different from our daily routines, it can still give you a good starting point – if only in helping you see what not to look for. This step is ideal for picking a setting you’d like to explore: would you like to be part of a fantasy world? Be transported to somewhere in a dark future? The present? Play as a human or, rather, as some quirky lifeform?
Step 3. Having developed this general understanding, you can head over to online game stores (like Steam or Epic Games Store) or review websites like Kotaku or Metacritic to take a look at the charts and see what’s currently played and loved in your setting of choice. It’s also worth checking out the various top-something games of all time, you are guaranteed to find at least a couple of interesting titles there. Make a list of anything that caught your attention.
Step 4. It’s time to conduct a little research of your own, which you can take to great depths. Armed with your list, you can start by watching gameplay trailers and reading the game’s wikipedia page to get the initial idea of the world and its mechanics. Then, if you are still not sure whether a certain game is a good fit for you, you can watch walkthroughs of the first few minutes over on YouTube or numerous online streaming platforms. This will allow you to get the feel of the game and see whether it is something you would actually like to be part of. Sometimes, a genre or a particular game may sound fun in theory, but once you start playing, something just doesn’t click and you’re left unsatisfied and possibly disgruntled. This step will help prevent that.
Step 5. After step 4, you’d probably be left with several titles, which you might be struggling to choose from. Our final word of advice would be to consider your time limits. For instance, it would hardly be wise to go for a 100-hour RPG if you only want to devote a couple of hours a week to your newly established digital hobby.
So let’s say, you have seven potentially interesting games on the list that meet your criteria. Now would be a good time to mention that game prices generally fall into the range between $4 and $60, so acquiring all items on your little list could turn out to be quite expensive. And even after all this preliminary research, there is no guarantee that you won’t spend a fortune on a game that you probably wouldn’t like.
Don’t worry, we’ve thought about that too! First of all, keep an eye on weekly discounts at online stores. These happen quite often and are a dream come true, especially when certain games are made available for free for a limited amount of time.
Second, check if any of your friends happen to have games from your list on their PC or console – you can always organize an old-school gaming session, walking through it together. Thus, you’ll try your hand at a game before investing in it.
Finally, see if there are any demos available (which is quite common for indie games). They usually give you a taste of what the actual game is going to be like without charging for it.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of our little quest for a perfect genre and good luck, fellow gamer, on your journeys into other worlds! Just don’t forget to check back with the real world.