Posted on Starpulse.com
I’ve heard often from people outside of geekdom that when we geeks get together we seem like we’re speaking a different language. This is especially true amongst video gamers, because over the years we’ve found ways to shorten definitions of our games so communication is quick and direct. This comes in handy when you’re fighting for your life in Halo, but there are some broad terms that distinctly involve video game genres that should be in common vernacular. So if you’re reading a video game review and one of these terms come up, you’ll now have an idea of what it is without needing to pretend ‘oh sure, THAT thing.’
Beat ‘Em Up / Shoot ‘Em Up – Beam ‘Em Up and Shoot ‘Em Up are similar enough concepts that they’re grouped together for the purpose of this article. Beat ‘Em Up or brawler games refer to those that feature hand to hand combat between yourself and hordes of enemy. A great deal of the oldest and most beloved games, such as “Double Dragon” or “Street of Rage” are Beat ’em ups. These are not the same as “Mortal Kombat” games that feature only one-on-one matches. They are usually just you (and some friends if you want) beating up a bunch of enemies as you wander through the game world. Similarily, Shoot ‘Em Up are usually when you play one character or object and shoot wildly at big gangs of enemies. Something like “Space Invaders” or “Asteroids” would fall under this category, and it’s usually involving ranged weapons so you can take things out quickly as they’re thrown at you.
Platformers – Platformers are the games best known in the classic video game era, such as “Super Mario Bros,” “Donkey Kong,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and “Prince of Persia.” Basically a platformer is when your character is required to move through a world avoiding obstacles and jumping to and from different platforms. Jump is the most important button usually, but as time went on they developed more aggressive buttons like attack. Platformers can be many different types of genres, such as action or adventure or RPG. They’re highly addictive and entertaining, even if rather simple to play. Modern games like “Jak & Daxter,” “Braid,” and “Ratchet & Clank” are great examples of platformers.
FPS / TPS – These are easy terms. FPS stands for First Person Shooter, when in the game you appear to be acting as the character yourself and only from his/her point of view. “Half-Life” and “Halo” are great examples of these. TPS stands for Third Person Shooter, which is self-evident in that you play looking over your character’s shoulder while still seeing them. The Playstation 3 exclusive series “Uncharted” is a great example of a TPS. You constantly see the main protagonist Drake, and sometimes this makes the vantage point easier to hide behind buildings and shoot at better angles.
Stealth – These are games that are focused on stealth aspects, which means you try and find ways out of situations without ever being seen. This can mean taking down your enemies silently from behind like in “Metal Gear Solid,” or in finding ways through puzzles and different hallways to get around the enemies. It’s hard to base full games on Stealth since it can get frustrating after awhile if you don’t know exactly how to win, so often games throw in the stealth as well as full combat.
QTE – Gamers are usually divided on whether or not Quick Time Events are fun in games or very annoying. QTE’s happen in games when there is a cut scene or movie, and then you’re required to hit a certain combination of buttons in order to make your character act during this scene. Often doing the wrong thing will lead to you dying or being forced to start the combination over a second time. “God of War,” “Spider-Man: Web of Shadows,” and “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all have examples of QTE’s within them. Sometimes if you fail them you just continue on, but most of the time you have to do it right or it’ll start over. Again and again and again.
RPG / MMORPG – An RPG is a very broad category and stands for Role Playing Game. Many of the most popular series in the gaming industry are either RPG’s or have elements of RPG in it, because what it does is put you directly in the shoes of the main character. You get immersed into the gameplay and feel like you live and breath the character; their story, their companions, and their choices are usually all under your control. The power, muahahah! Anyway big names like “Final Fantasy,” “Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic,” “Kingdom Hearts,” “Fable,” and “Mass Effect” are all RPG’s. In fact most major modern games have RPG in them because it’s so appealing to game fans to really feel like part of the story. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This is basically an RPG that takes place on the virtual game world online. Usually the MMORPG lets you create a special character and go on missions to ‘level’ it up. You can choose the appearance and path the character takes while interacting with people all over the world. “Everquest” and “World of Warcraft” are two very popular examples.
RTS / RTT – RTS stands for Real-Time Strategy, and they are usually computer wargames. You build up an army, not unlike the table-top game “Risk,” and position your units to keep your area safe. Eventually you plan to fight off opponents either by defending or simply aggressively wiping them off the game planet. In RTS’ everything happens in real time (note the name) so you have to actively pay attention and keep building your team, and sometimes wait around as your world builds resources and money for you. “Starcraft,” “Age of Empires,” and “Command and Conquer” are famous examples of the RTS genre. Now RTS is often mistaken for RTT, the latter stands for Real-Time Tactics. They are remarkably similar so it is easy to see the problem. The difference is in RTT’s you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to building resources, and the focus of the game is more on specific war battle tactics over general management. Your real attention in an RTT is how to beat the snot out of the other team by sheer force and by outwitting them. RTS is about sustaining a whole civilization or village and surviving. RTT is about being the next Napoleon Bonaparte. “Sid Meier’s Gettysburg” and “Full Spectrum Warrior” are great examples of RTT’s.