Part 2: Game Developer’s Glossary 101

Game Genres for Developers

Most forms of media such as movies and books have distinct categories that were created to help users classify the different A glossary for game developers.films and novels made.  It is important to have clear, straight forward categories because they help users build relationships and correlations between the object and themselves. While movies and novels now have distinct classifications, video game genres are still evolving and changing which leaves unclear categories for players and developers.  Not only are the genres muddled, developers use different groupings for their games because there are multiple dimensions they must take into consideration.  A few ways to group games are player viewpoint, inner mechanics, and the content of the game. It’s important to realize that most games will also incorporate multiple features and fall into a few categories. Therefore, it is not uncommon to have hybrid games such as a third person shooter game that plays as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft.  Many of these genres also have subcategories that drill down even further into specific details of a game. To continue building the Soomla Game Developer’s Glossary, we’ve compiled a list of these genres.


FPS: First person shooters are games where the player takes the role of the character in the game. Popular first person shooter games include Counter-strike, Halo, and Call of Duty. A FPS game for the game developer's glossary.
Shoot ‘em Up: This type of game is focused on shooting large quantities of enemies while also dodging enemy fire. Shoot ‘em up games are one of the oldest genres of games dating back to the 1960s with the release of Spacewars! Other examples include Ikaruga, R-Type, and another classic, Space Invaders.
TPS: Third-person shooter are 3D action games, where the avatar in the game is visible on-screen. For example, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Assassin’s Creed.

Role-playing game (RPG)

MMO: Massively multiplayer online games are capable of supporting large numbers of players at the same time. One of the more popular MMO games is Clash of Clans in which players build communities, train soldiers, and attack other players to earn gold.A developer's glossary for mobile games.
MMORPG: Massively multiplayer online role-playing games are designed to be played with other people. To partake, a user takes the identity of a character and works their way up the ranks in the game.  Some games with this set-up include World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and EverQuest.
MUD: Multi user dungeons are multiplayer games occurring in real-time virtual worlds.  Players take the form of an avatar and are able to interact with each other usually via online chats. A few popular MUD games are Discworld and BatMUD.


Puzzle: Puzzle games test a player’s problem solving skills such as logic, sequence solving, and pattern recognition. Within the puzzle game genre, there are many subcategories such as tile-matching and hidden object games. A few popular puzzle games are Bejeweled, Tetris, Monument Valley, and Minesweeper.
MOBA: Multi online battle arena games have two teams opposing each other and users control a character in one of two teams. Their main objective is to destroy the other teams main structure. A popular MOBA game is League of LegendsA game developer's glossary in which a player becomes a “champion” and works with a team to destroy the opposing teams main building.
RTS: Real-time strategy games do not progress in turn, but are played in real time where players set goals and when they’re achieved the game keeps moving. A few real-time strategy games are Starcraft and the Command and Conquer series.
TBS: Turn-based strategy games have clear turns for players and users can take as much time as they need to make their move.  For example, Heroes of Might and Magic and War Chess are both examples of turn-based games.


Bubble shooter: A type of game that combines shooter and puzzle elements to the game. The goal of the game is to collect points by arranging the bubbles and then bursting them.
Endless Runner: Games where the character in the game essentially runs until they die. Temple Run, Despicable Me, and Jetpack Joyride are all popular endless runner games.
Match-3: Match-3 games, also known as tile-matching video games, have players manipulate tiles to make them disappear. Usually aligning three tiles is the “magic” number for the tiles to disappear. The most popular example is Candy Crush Saga.
Platformer: Games that operate on physical, virtual platforms and users control their character by jumping. These types of games tend to be simplistic and only involve one or two dynamics. The most well known game is MarA game developer's glossary including sports games. io Brothers.
Sports: Sports games simulate the playing of actual sports such as baseball, American football, soccer, tennis, and golf. The games are usually quite competitive and intense such as the real thing, which attracts a lot of game players.  While some sports games emulate the actual playing of the sport such as FIFA and Tiger Woods PGA Tour, other games will emphasize the strategy and managerial aspects of having a sports team.
Music: Music video games are quite popular because they allow players to “become” a music star while playing the game. Music games also include rhythm based games such as Dance, Dance Revolution. Some of the popular music games are Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
Card: This is any game that uses playing cards such as Solitaire, Gin Rummy, and Uno.
Racing: Racing games include any form of racing competition be it on land, air, or sea. These types of games are either in the first or third person perspective and can take the form of an actual racing league such as NASCAR 09 or in a fantasyland like the Mario Kart series.

Mobile Mechanics – Touch & Gestures

While the previous groupings included games that could be played on PCs, gaming consoles, or mobile
devices, this next group is geared solely towards mobile games.  Developers creating games for touch screens must recognize that games can further be categorized by the gesture or touch associated with the game. It’s also important to remember when developing mobile games to use gestures that are quick and decisive because fingers cover the screen.

Single Tap/Touch: Most mobile games involve some form of tapping, but the gameplay in single tap games use the tap-drag or tap-hold mechanic such as in Jetpack Joyride.
Slashers: Users swipe their fingers across the screen to play the game. A great example of a slasher game is Fruit Ninja. In the game, pieces of fruit are “thrown” on the screen and the player must use their finger to slice the fruit to earn points.
Swipe Action Based: The swiping gesture emulates the feeling of flicking or swiping which can create the sensation of hitting a ball, petting an animal, or rotating an object. This helps mobile games that utilize this gesture make their game more interactive and “real” for users. For example, Swiped, an Android based game, allows users to swipe the gems in the game to clear them and to earn more points. Another swipe based game is Flick Golf, an Android game in which users play golf through various swiping gestures.
Accelerometer: These types of games use various tilting motions of the device to control the game play. These games keep users’ fingers off the screen and they can usually be played one handed. One example that uses this mechanic is Cube Runner. The goal is for players to move their ship across the screen and try not to hit the cubes in the path.

A developer's glossary to hand gestures for mobile games.

It’s important to remember that not all games will fall into one category.  Most games will be hybrids and encompass a few of these dimensions.  When categorizing your game remember to look at all the various dimensions and be as specific as possible because this will help your game reach the right players.

In the next installment to the game developer’s glossary, we’ll be addressing the different types of gamers and looking at the Bartle Test which classifies multiplayer online game users.

Well, you’ve got the lay of the land as they say, so go check out our forum and put your new knowledge to use!

This is part 2 in a 3 part post. Click here to read part 1.

Feel free to share:
Previous articleShape Up is a modern take on Tetris
Next articleMGF Asia 2015 Here We Come!
A passion for writing, social media, and everything marketing, Emily thrives in the online marketing realm. She is constantly looking for new and innovative techniques to implement. When Emily isn’t writing or finding new content to explore, she can be found hiking or diving. Emily holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Religion from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here