Not all video games are the same: game mechanics, certain plot elements, and content differ fundamentally. Therefore we want to give you an overview of the most important video game genres and name some prominent representatives.
Adventure / Action Adventure
The fun of adventure games consists in advancing the characters with various options for action and by exploring the game world: In the course of the game, puzzles have to be solved, decisions made and tests passed. Action adventures are accompanied by action-based game mechanics and more combat-oriented content. The required skill and responsiveness is even higher in action adventure.
Well-known representatives of Adventure: Machinarium, Deponia, Edna Erbruch, Life is Strange
Well-known representatives of action adventure: The Legend of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Uncharted
In an often colorful and varied game world, a figure is moved running and jumping. Often obstacles have to be overcome and platforms reached by precise jumps. Jump’n’Run games therefore usually require skill and patience. Many representatives of the genre do without combat-based content, but there is often a smooth transition to adventure games.
Well-known representatives: Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot
In offline role-playing games (generally also RPG, “Role Playing (Video) Game”), the focus is clearly on the dramatic and often epically told story: In a complex game world, the player plays the central role – often a hero character who is a disaster must turn away within the narrated world. RPGs usually allow the players extensive design options for their hero, which sometimes offers a great potential for identification and internal game decisions are given more weight.
Well-known representatives: Kingdom Hearts, Pokémon, Final Fantasy
Racing and sports games
Sports games allow the player to train his characters and to prove the skills they have acquired in competition. In racing games, on the other hand, a vehicle must be successfully brought to the finish line on a set route through speed and skill. In both genres, players can compete against computer-based or human opponents.
Well-known representatives: FIFA, Wii Sports, Mario Kart, Need for Speed
In shooters, the game principle is basically combat-based. As the name suggests, the main principle in this genre is shooting. In most games, you move through a world with human characters or fantasy beings. The aim of the games is to defeat opposing characters and complete missions successfully without your own character dying.
First person shooter: Player takes on the first person perspective of the main character
Third-person shooter: player looks over the shoulder of the main character from a slight distance, overlaps with action and role-playing games
Well-known representatives: Fortnite, Valorant, Overwatch
The most varied areas of life and everyday processes can be realistically simulated in simulation games. In some games, the entire life of fictional characters is to be depicted and controlled (life simulations), others concentrate on certain areas of life (e.g. vehicle, job, and business simulations).
Well-known representatives: The Sims, Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, Nintendogs
Genre-typical characteristics and age recommendations
Some video game genres such as B. Jump’n’Run games or life simulations are particularly often fun for all ages and dispense with elements that could affect children. However, there are also genres that, because of their content or the underlying game principle, are typically aimed at young people from the age of 16 or even exclusively at adults. This includes most shooter-based games, but also military strategy or simulation games.
Tip: Many advice pages offer search functions with which you can filter by genre, age recommendation, and platform (e.g. usk.de or spieleratgeber-nrw.de). In this way, you can search specifically for games that match your child’s interests and are harmless for their age.
Evaluation of genre mixes
Video game genres cannot always be clearly delineated from one another: For some representatives of the action adventure genre, the transition to third-person shooters is fluid, which is why many titles are aimed at older teenagers and adults (USK 16 or USK 18). A similar game principle does not always speak for the same target group: While adventure games with colorful, family-friendly fantasy worlds are harmless for children, games of the same genre with thriller and horror content are of course primarily aimed at adults. When looking for games of a certain genre or a mix of genres, you should therefore consider the variety of possible plot and gameplay elements.
Potentially risky game elements
With certain gameplay and action elements, developers want to guarantee players as extensive and long-lasting fun as possible. Likewise, it is in the interests of game manufacturers if players invest a lot of time and often money in certain games. Some mechanisms are particularly attractive to children, but also to many adults, and encourage frequent and long play or additional purchases. The following features can be problematic in principle:
Online multiplayer: Playing together in a team can create a certain amount of peer pressure and lead to investing a lot of time in a game. In addition, your child may be able to make contact with strangers.
Online functions: Without the necessary security settings, children can access sales platforms for video games and additional content.
Reward systems: In many games, progress does not only depend on the skill of the player, but on the time invested. If you complete a particularly large number of tasks, you will be rewarded with loot (“loot”) and experience points that can be used to improve characters (“leveling”). Some games also reward daily login. All of these elements can then lead to more time being invested in the game.
Payment systems or in-game purchases: Certain functions or items can be activated with real money. This is particularly tempting for children if it gives them an edge over other players. So you must make sure your kid does not end buying virtual gold or nhl coins or some other virtual item without your consent.
For children and adolescents, the focus is usually on having fun. Parents, on the other hand, of course, attach more importance to providing their children with a safe gaming experience and teaching them healthy usage behavior. Therefore, find out thoroughly which possibly problematic elements your child could be confronted within games and limit the selection accordingly. If your child is interested in certain action modules or prefers game mechanisms, you still have the choice between many child-friendly or cross-age titles. You should also check the parental controls on the respective platform and set up appropriate restrictions. In this way, you can further secure your child’s gaming experience.