What are the three main types of gaming?

What are the three main types of gaming?

Gaming has surged in popularity with people using games to stay in touch with friends and to escape into other worlds. The increasing accessibility of smartphones and fast broadband connections in emerging markets has contributed to the rapid growth in mobile games in particular.

Research shows that a huge 3.38 billion people worldwide played games in 2023, bringing in a revenue of just over $187 billion for the gaming industry.

That is more than three times more money than the music industry makes and four times as much as the film industry.

Clearly, gaming is an important element within the entertainment industry. There’s a huge array of different types of games to choose from, all of which require different levels of infrastructure hosting. In this article we’re going to delve into the three main types of games: single player, asynchronous multi-player, and synchronous multi-player.

1. Single player games

Definition: Single player games are always a solo effort. Whatever the format – racing, shooting, platform, casino – the player is on their own. Any in-game interaction is provided by computer-driven NPCs (non-playable characters) rather than ‘real’ people.

Examples: Single player games can be extremely resource intensive (think Red Dead Redemption, Minecraft or similar), with rich, immersive graphics and surround-sound audio. Or they can be incredibly simple, point-and-click type efforts like Candy Crush, Line Rider and Wordle.

Often single player games are designed as ‘time killers’, allowing players to dip in and out when they have a few minutes to spare. Others will be long, sprawling epic stories which take many hours to complete.

Infrastructure requirements: Single player games are the least resource-intensive of the three types. While they can include some online connected elements, such as Wordle’s lightbox which tracks your previous scores or the option to make those tempting in-game purchases, there is little information sent back to a gaming server to process.

2. Asynchronous multi-player games

types of gaming

Definition: Asynchronous multi-player games are enjoyed by two or more players. However, even though they play together, players do not engage in real time.

The best way to understand an asynchronous multi-player game is to think of it as a turn-based system. Take chess for instance, where each player takes it in turns to move their pieces. Technically they are playing together, but there is always a gap between moves – sometimes seconds, sometimes many hours.

Like single player games, asynchronous multi-player games can also be quick time-fillers or long, drawn-out engagements. Depending on the game there may be a time limit applied to each player’s moves, while others may run almost indefinitely until all the moves have been played and the game is completed.

Examples: Asynchronous multi-player games come in many forms and can be simple or complex. Titles like Words With Friends are relatively basic, while an enduring game of strategy such as Warhammer 40,000 is much more resource-intensive.

Infrastructure requirements: Asynchronous multi-player games require slightly more game server hosting support. Although actions aren’t as time sensitive as quick-fire shooting games, a gaming server must still, for example, receive an action from one chess player and play it back to their opponent. You’ll find a lot of mobile games are asynchronous to accommodate the unstable connections of mobile devices. It’s the reason you can happily play Scrabble on the bus—but not Clash Royale!

3. Synchronous multi-player games

Definition: Synchronous multi-player games, also known as real-time multiplayer games, are enjoyed by two or more people simultaneously. All the action takes place in real time, with players using voice or text to discuss tactics, share observations or simply chat while they wait for the game to load.

The best known real-time multiplayer games are server-based, allowing people to collaborate or compete depending on the game they are playing.

Examples: Fortnite, Minecraft, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are well-known synchronous multi-player games that attract hundreds of thousands of gamers every day.

Infrastructure requirements: It’s no surprise that synchronous multi-player games are the most resource intensive of our three gaming types, requiring well-specified gaming servers with low latency network connections to deliver an acceptable experience. If you’ve ever experienced the rage-inducing buffer on a poorly connected first person shooter, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

What about mobile gaming?

Does mobile classify as another “type” of gaming? Not really, because it describes the device used to access the games – just like a specialized gaming PC or a console.

In fact, advances in processing and graphics capabilities mean that you can play all three types of game – single-player, asynchronous multi-player, synchronous multi-player – from most mobile devices, including smartphones.


The world of gaming can be quite complex. However, as this article shows, there are only three main types of video games. The good news is that there is a game type to suit everyone, whether they want to play alone (single player video games) or to compete with other gamers (multi-player video games).

To learn more about to best approach to game server hosting for your game, please get in touch.

Last Updated: 27 October 2023

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