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Action video games are video games defined by fast-paced gameplay with a focus on, usually, movement, combat, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time. As a genre, it is a very broad term, and is generally used to define games that may not fit into more specific genres, such as puzzle, platform, racing, FPS, or RPG, though shooters and platform video games can also fall under the action genre. It is not uncommon to see elements from other types of games incorporated into an action video game; as a result of this, many use action/adventure to designate action games with an increased focus on adventure elements, such as exploration and/or collection, for instance. Many of the other main genres do incorporate a level of control that the action genre is noted for; while first-person-shooters are based around moving and shooting, they are classified as they are due to the unique perspective of the game. Similarly, platform video games tend to be action games with a heavy focus on jumping puzzles.

As it is a very broad term, it is reserved more lately for games with an increased focus on movement and combat only.

Defining elements

The action genre includes any game where the majority of challenges are physical tests of skill. Action games can sometimes incorporate other challenges such as races or collecting objects, but they are not central to the genre. Players may also encounter tactical and exploration challenges, but these games sometimes require high reaction speed and good hand–eye coordination. In addition, the player is often under time pressure. In general, faster-paced action games are more challenging.[1]

History

When the video game industry began in the early 1970s, following the success of Pong, the majority of early arcade video games were usually sports games that attempted to simulate real sports, especially Pong clones and occasionally racing video games.[2] While some action games began gaining popularity around the mid-1970s, with releases such as Gun Fight in 1975[3][4] and Sea Wolf in 1976,[5] the industry was still largely dominated by sports games,[2] though the flood of Pong clones eventually led to the video game crash of 1977.[6]

A major turning point for action games came with the 1978 release of the shoot 'em up game Space Invaders,[2] which marked an end to the 1977 crash and the beginning of the golden age of arcade games.[6] As a result of Space Invaders mainstream success, the industry came to be dominated by action games,[2] which have remained the most dominant genre in the arcades and on game consoles through to the present day.[7] Along with Space Invaders,[8] Asteroids Deluxe from 1979[9] and Pac-Man from 1980[10] have also become iconic examples from the action genre.[1] Robotron: 2084, released in arcades in 1982, also became a classic in the shooter subgenre.[1]

In much the same way Space Invaders set the template for the shooter video game genre,[2][11] Donkey Kong did the same for the platform game subgenre when it released in 1981.[12] Paperboy, released in 1984,[13] managed to turn the task of delivering newspapers into an action game, thus demonstrating the versatility of the genre.[1] That same year saw the emergence of martial arts themed games, with Karate Champ establishing the one-on-one fighting game subgenre,[14] and Kung-Fu Master laying the foundations for the side-scrolling beat 'em up subgenre.[15][16]

Although DOOM, released in 1994, was not the earliest first-person shooter, it became a worldwide classic for its emotional tone, and for breaking away from rectangular rooms and flat floors.[1] Third-person shooters have also gained popularity in recent years, due to innovations such as the lock-on targeting introduced in 1998's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the cover system introduced in 1999's WinBack, and over-the-shoulder aiming introduced in 2005's Resident Evil 4.[12]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. http://wps.prenhall.com/bp_gamedev_1/54/14053/3597646.cw/index.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Essential 50: Space Invaders. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-26.
  3. Shirley R. Steinberg (2010). Shirley R. Steinberg, Michael Kehler, Lindsay Cornish. ed. Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 451. , ISBN 0313350809
  4. Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond : the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world, p. 64, Prima, ISBN 0761536434
  5. Steven L. Kent (2000). The first quarter: a 25-year history of video games. BWD Press. p. 83. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ny-CAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 2011-04-09. "Sea Wolf, which was another creation of Dave Nutting, did solid business, selling more than 10,000 machines. (A later color version sold an additional 4000 units.)" 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jason Whittaker (2004). The cyberspace handbook. Routledge. p. 122. , ISBN 041516835X
  7. Jason Whittaker (2004), The cyberspace handbook, Routledge, p. 129 , ISBN 041516835X
  8. Kevin Bowen. The Gamespy Hall of Fame: Space Invaders. GameSpy. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  9. Nate Ahearn (2007-11-29). Asteroids Deluxe Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  10. Namco Bandai Games Inc. (2005-06-02). Bandai Namco press release for 25th Anniversary Edition (Japanese). bandainamcogames.co.jp/. Archived from the original on 2007-12-30 Retrieved on 2007-10-10. “2005年5月22日で生誕25周年を迎えた『パックマン』。 ("Pac-Man celebrates his 25th anniversary on May 22, 2005", seen in image caption)”
  11. Edwards, Benj. Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Space Invaders. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2008-07-11.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Gaming's most important evolutions. GamesRadar (October 8, 2010). Retrieved on 2011-03-31.
  13. Tim Surette (2007-02-12). Paperboy gets tossed this week. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  14. Ryan Geddes & Daemon Hatfield (2007-12-10). IGN's Top 10 Most Influential Games. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-04-14.
  15. Spencer, Spanner, The Tao of Beat-'em-ups, Eurogamer, Feb 6, 2008, Accessed Mar 18, 2009
  16. Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie, "The Furious Fists of Sega!", Computer Gaming World, Oct 1988, pp. 48-49

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