Since 1972 with the introduction of Atari Pong to the present, video games have become the most popular and profitable modern form of entertainment worldwide. Like with television show genres, a multitude of unique and differentiated genres apply to a large variety of different demographics: gender, sex, age, regional location, etc. Video games in their entirety have, with the growth of technological availability, put themselves at the forefront in gross income for any subset of media.
What differs in video game genres is that it’s format is completely unique and relies more on audience dependence and orientation of player. Video games can be broken down into: adventure, action, casual, puzzle, role-playing, strategy, first person shooter, and social (Konzack 2015). For instance, first person shooters, that became popularized by games like Call of Duty (2003), rely on the player to namely put themselves as the avatar and continue through the game. Roleplaying games, like those that fall in the Sims franchise, put the player in a much more omniscient role over the avatar, giving them much more control and less personal interaction. The broadness of the differing genres and even the differences within each genre allow for an exponential growth of video games to appeal not only do different demographics of people, but to create their own unique audiences. Like in film, certain game franchises over time have built a cult-like following that has engrossed over $30.4 billion dollars in 2016 in the U.S. alone (Entertainment Software Association, 2017).
But not all video game genres are created equal. Due to the aforementioned cult-like sensation that erupts from certain games, certain genres within the broad scope of video games have dominated over others. According to the Entertainment Software Association, action and shooter games made up almost half of the video game sales across the country in 2014, with 28.2% and 21.7% respectively (Forbes, 2015). This comes as no surprise, given the immense variations that can come out within genres such as these. Piggybacking off one another, action and shooter games often go hand in hand, with game companies creating games for even the most niche markets and audiences. The most beneficial and profitable thing about video game genres that sets it apart from other genres in media is its ability for widespread diversification. Within the realm of action games, any number of audiences can be targeted and profited off. Games like Minecraft and Spore intentionally target a younger audience, getting them interested in video games at a young age. As they get older and mature, they are introduced to more mature games like the Grand Theft Auto and The Elder Scrolls franchises provide a similar layout with much more mature motifs and imagery.
The lasting effects of video game genres and their ability to transition through life stages with the audience benefits companies largely from the consistent profitization that can come from this parallel with transitional growth and is much in part why video games and their multitude of genres is so prevalent in society today.
Entertainment Software Association. (2017). Press Release: U.S. Video Game Industry Generates $30.4 Billion in Revenue for 2016. Retrieved from http://www.theesa.com/article/u-s-video-game-industry-generates-30-4-billion-revenue-2016/.
Forbes. (2015). America’s Favorite Video Game Genres [Infographic]. Retrieved fromhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/06/26/americas-favorite-video- game-genres-infographic/#44fd120a5f99.
Konzack, Lars (2015). Video Game Genres. In Encyclopedia of Information Science andTechnology (Vol. 3). Copenhagen, Denmark: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Third Edition.
Image Attribution: the images used are on the public domain
Written by Will Hewitt, 2017