Why It's Wrong to Use 'Online Games' as a Catch-All Name

PHOTO BY Courtesy of Patrick Kasingsing

By James Dominic Flores

As more games flood the market, weaving its way into our everyday lives, one word is always seen attached to gaming: “Online.” To the casual viewer or clueless parent, all games are seen as “online games” since most popular games require an internet connection.

However, online games are only a small part of the bigger, inter-connected gaming sphere. As ultra-conservative leaders or parents share on social media platforms about the evils of online games, you may see a teenager look at them bluntly and ask sobering questions like “Is candy crush evil? How about wordle? You play those games online.”

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of games based on different qualifying criteria, bearing in mind that a single game can have multiple classifications depending on each perspective.


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Games by platform

Classifying games by platform refers to the machine you use to play your games. Here we have Console Games which refer to games played exclusively on gaming consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox machines which require connecting the gadget to a monitor or TV set in order to play.

Handheld games are games played in platforms like the Nintendo 3Ds, and the old PSPs you may have had growing up in the mid-2010s. Games for the Nintendo Switch interestingly fall on both due to the nature of the product which can be used as both a Console and handheld machine.

PC games refer to games that are played exclusively on computers or laptops. Finally, mobile games refer to games you can play on your cellphone. As the market for games grows, a lot of games are now published cross-platform, but there are certain game studios who still release exclusively for a single platform.

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Games by Connectivity

By connectivity, games are simply either online or offline games. Online games require an active and stable internet connection to allow you to play the game while offline games do not require an internet connection during your play time.

This may be easily figured out by teens and children but not for adults unfamiliar to games; just because they are on a computer does not mean it is an online game.

Take for instance Axie Infinity and Solitaire, while both are card games, Axie infinity requires an internet connection to play whereas Solitaire can be played without an internet connection for as long as it is installed on your phone or PC.

Games by number of people playing

Many people are familiar with multiplayer games, these are games that require at least two or more players in order to start the game. However, there are also an abundance of single player games, usually those that focus on narrative stories and plots instead of competition or cooperation with others.


Crash Bandicoot, for example is a single player game because only one person can play and interact with the game at any given moment while Crash Team Racing, is a racing spinoff of the aforementioned game that allows simultaneous game time with other people.

Games by Genre

Perhaps the biggest categorization of games are games by genre. Popular game genres include:

Action games: These games test your reactions to obstacles placed on screen, sub-genres include the Platformers such as Super Mario World, Mega Man, and Sonic the Hedgehog which focuses on navigating different stages, Hack-and-Slash games such as Devil May Cry, and Beat em Up’s like Final Fight focus on destroying waves of mobs of enemies.

Adventure Games: These games focus on open-world exploration, oftentimes with puzzle elements to the game. Popular games of this genre include the Tomb Raider, Legend of Zelda, and Uncharted series of games.

Role Playing Games (RPGs): Unlike adventure games, these games primarily focus on the player following a specific character narrative and a set plot. Popular examples of RPGs are games of the Final Fantasy Series. RPGs have also expanded from a primarily single-player model to that of a multiplayer model thus creating the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) sub-genre which includes games like World of Warcraft and the Filipino favorite MMORPG, Ragnarok.


Fighting Games: These games cater to 1 on 1 competition with a different player. The main goal is to reduce the opponent’s life bar to zero in order to win a round. Popular fighting games include Tekken and Street Fighter.

 Real Time Strategy (RTS): RTS games are those that require a player to build bases, manage resources and command platoons and armies to engage the enemy in combat. Games like Starcraft, Command and Conquer: Red Alert, and Battle Realms fall in this genre.

Shooter games: Shooters are precision and accuracy-based simulators for gamers. The most common sub-genre of shooter games are the First-Person Shooter games (FPS) which are played a First Person Perspective. Examples of this are Counter Strike: General Offensive (CS:GO) and Valorant. For older gamers, shooters also have a sub-genre called shoot-em ups’ which are often represented by the player commanding an aircraft shooting other planes and dodging numerous projectiles. Space Invaders is a classic example of a shoot-em up’ game.


Sports games: these games are digital recreations of real sports such as basketball and football. As self-explanatory as it sounds, games like NBA2k and FIFA World fall into this category.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena: Arguably one of the most popular genres in the country today, these games are defined by having a player control 1 character and be grouped into a team against other players that aim to destroy the enemy base. Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2), League of Legends (LoL), and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) fall into this genre.

While there are more niche genres of games, the casual viewer needs to bear in mind that all games can be classified into the different categories at the same time. Dota 2 for instance is both a PC game, an Online game, a Multiplayer game, and a MOBA game by definition. Each genre develops different skill sets for players. Online games encourage gamers to socialize properly, while RTS and MOBA games require quick cognitive processing of information, combined with accurate button presses and clicks, similar skills needed to play a complex classical piano piece. 


The first step to reaching out to a gamer is to understand the basics of a gamer’s world. Just like people, not all games are built the same. Taking time to understand even the entry level differences of a game can speak volumes to a child that their parent is putting in the effort to understand something that they are passionate about.

About the author: James Dominic Flores is a lecturer at Far Eastern University Manila, specializing in psychology. He is also a competitive gamer specializing in fighting games.

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