Games with choices have a unique power — they allow players to be active participants in crafting a story in a way that traditional media like movies and books don’t. By leaving crucial story choices up to the player, games with choices hand over some of the narrative control to whoever wields the controller.
Single player games have long been the standard in gaming, with multiplayer options being an extra point of appeal. But many video game publishers have found that including multiplayer brings in more sales, not only through the purchase of the game itself but also through DLC, costumes, extra ammo, and other benefits that can be bought in game. As a result, we’re seeing more previously single player games incorporating multiplayer modes, such as Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series and BioWare’s Mass Effect, as well as titles that launch as multiplayer only.
Video game genres help players sort out what things they like in a game and which things they don’t. For the most part, that’s a good thing—it’s better to know what you’re getting into ahead of time than to keep buying games you don’t like. Many video game genres work well together, but sometimes the mood or mechanics of a particular genre doesn’t suit another setting or playstyle.
Chess games are such an ingrained part of our culture that it’s no surprise they have a strong influence in video games. Their influence isn’t just restricted to virtual representations of the iconic game, either—the history and ties of chess to military strategy also influence modern gaming, often in unexpected ways.
Rogues have been a video game staple since the early days, sneaking their way from tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons to major series like Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft.
Despite their stealthy nature and reliance on thievery and backstabbing, rogues rarely conform to stealth game standards outside of their genre. Playing a rogue in World of Warcraft has very little in common with playing a stealth game, as mechanics are usually reduced to rotation-based button pushing rather than careful planning and strategizing. The same is true outside of MMOs as well—RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Age both feature rogues and thieves as characters but lack the strategy and apprehension that make stealth games so popular.
Challenging games let players flex their gaming muscles, typically requiring quickness or resilience to progress while other games might be more forgiving. It’s a great challenge for those who like to strive for perfection, and difficult games are seeing renewed popularity thanks to games like Bloodborne and Hotline Miami which earn fans not only for their stories and art but also for their difficulty. A high degree of difficulty is also a frequent characteristic of stealth games, requiring players to exercise more caution and strategy than many other game genres.
Games with great stories are becoming more common these days, with sophisticated mechanics supported by a rich backstory and twisting plot. Of course, not every gamer wants an in-depth, emotional tale to accompany their favorite gameplay. Fans of stealth games are often more interested in tight mechanics and the right mix of difficulty and achievement than being engrossed in a backstory.
Fictional assassins can be easier to empathize with than their real-life counterparts as their stories are often meant to evoke sympathy and explore the morality of killing. Revenge is a common motivation for sympathetic fictional assassins, but some assassins are cool just for the sake of being cool. We may not identify with their stories, but we can’t help but be entranced by them.
Bridge of Spies, the latest thriller from acclaimed director Steven Spielberg, is a Cold War spy flick at its best—armed with only the limited technology available in that time period, spies had to be clever and crafty rather than rely on high-tech gadgets. Bridge of Spies’ protagonist, played by Tom Hanks, is a lawyer caught up in the Cold War conflict rather than a spy, but espionage plays a vital role in the story as the catalyst for a tense negotiation.
Video game genres can be rigid or flexible, trendy or enduring, based in mechanics or based in story conventions. Genres and subgenres help players determine what types of games they’re more likely to enjoy, but blending genres together can create new and exciting adventures for people looking to mix up their favorite elements.