Shooting Games

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Shooting games are one of the most misunderstood genres within the gaming world. Join us as we clear up some of that confusion and explain why the best shooter games strike a chord with everyone.

What Are Shooting Games

Broadly speaking, shooter games are a genre of video games in which the primary focus is on defeating enemies with in-game representations of either real or fictional firearms. The latter are often supplemented with explosive items such as grenades, melee weapons such as knives or daggers, and sometimes more unusual ranged weaponry such as bows or crossbows depending on the shooter game’s setting.

Shooter games can trace their roots back to labyrinth-style video games of the 1970s, wherein players had to navigate a maze while taking out any enemies they encountered.

Shooter games and their subtypes really took off in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to the arcade boom, with players taking control of tanks, spaceships, and more. In fact, in the mid 90s the US Army saw the potential practical use for shooter games, developing mods for popular shooter game titles in order to train their troops.

As video game technology came on in leaps and bounds, so did the complexity of shooter games. With the advent of more accessible 3D game engines came multi-level environments with detailed textures and dynamic lighting. Additionally, the development of more sophisticated AI led to smarter opponents and, in some shooter games, computer-controlled companions who had your back when you didn’t have a human player two.

Today the line between player and developer is blurred, with players frequently modding shooter games and even going on to making shooter games of their own. All of this resulted in shooting games that have complex, multi-layered worlds, autonomous enemies, and ways for players to work alone or in unison with realistic battle tactics.

What Defines a Shooting Game?

As you might expect, what generally tends to define a shooting game is the fact that it contains shooting of some kind. Whether it’s a more traditional first-person shooter game or a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up, it’s generally pretty easy to identify a shooting game on sight.

As the shooter genre developed, it splintered into various subgenres, with online shooting games becoming immensely popular. Today, popular types of premium and free shooting games include:

  • Shoot ’Em Ups - Also known as shmups, these shooter games usually have a top-down or side scrolling perspective and are characterized by a constant flow of enemies. The aim is to shoot enemies and survive for as long as possible without being taken down. An extreme example of shoot ‘em ups are bullet hell games, which place you in the middle of a torrent of enemies and challenge you to survive.
  • Shooting Gallery Games - These are simplified versions of modern first-person shooter games. The action takes place from a first-person perspective, but the position is usually fixed or on a rail. Enemies pop up and you have to shoot them, but the game chooses where you can and can’t move.
  • Looter Shooter Games - These fun shooter games blend RPG elements and focus on the acquisition of rare items (loot) such as weapons, armor, and valuables that help you survive and progress in the game.
  • Battle Royale Games - One of the most popular shooters, the aim of a battle royale game is to be the last man standing. The excitement and inbuilt competitiveness of these shooter games make them highly watchable and therefore popular esports.
  • Boomer Shooter Games - Boomer shooters are games released during the 2010s or later that try to emulate the look of older first-person shooter games such as Doom and Quake. Its name has a double meaning in that it refers to both “boomsticks” (powerful shotguns) and the baby boomer generation.

Why Are Shooting Games So Popular?

There are lots of reasons why people find shooting games so enthralling. Fans of shooter games are rarely driven by a genuine desire for violence and are more seeking to satisfy various psychological urges, be that a sense of comradeship, a way to fulfill competitive urges, or simply to blow off steam in a fun - and safe - environment.

It’s a common misconception that shooting games are only popular with those with a penchant for violence - but studies have shown this couldn’t be further from the truth. Experts believe that we are driven to play shooter games in order to satisfy various psychological urges. These include:

  • Competitiveness - Sociologist Ross Haenfler states that being “ready to fight” is a natural human state. This drives us to protect what’s ours and, in turn, be competitive. When you feel under threat, you’re more likely to hit back and want to gain an advantage. Shooter games online allow you to fulfill this desire in a safe, entertaining, and friendly way. Moreover, you feel a sense of accomplishment every time you win.
  • Control - Games researcher Scott Rigby tells us that control is just as much of a psychological desire as hunger or sleep. We want to feel as though we’re making decisions and, importantly, that we’re in control of those decisions. Shooter games take this to the extreme. When you know that one move could end your life (even if it’s virtual), everything is heightened. The decisions you make have consequences and that makes you feel more empowered.
  • Relatedness - Rigby also points to the concept of relatedness. We like to feel a connection to other people. Nowhere is this more crucial than in times of danger. A first-person shooter game that requires you to work tactically alongside others is the perfect way to scratch this psychological itch. When you complete a mission successfully in online shooting games, it creates a sense of camaraderie with your teammates that we as humans crave.

Can You Play Shooting Games on Mobile?

Although originally less common, there are a wide selection of shooting games on contemporary mobile platforms. In some cases, shooter games that originally came out on PC or consoles receive specially developed mobile versions, while others are mobile-exclusive entirely.

Are Shooting Games Free?

There are plenty of free online shooting games available, easily found with a search on your preferred platform’s app store or game distribution service. While most single player shooter games tend to be paid, it’s relatively easy to find a shooting game to fit every budget - especially with frequent sales on certain platforms.

We have a whole load of fun and free shooting video games for you to try over at Plarium Play. Simply make an account, check out our collection of shooter games, and get shooting! However, if shooters aren’t your thing, we have games of every genre from action to simulation - just take a look!