Beyond Genre: Classifying Virtual Reality Experiences

Maxwell Foxman*, David Beyea, Alex Leith, Rabindra A. Ratan, Vivian Chen, Brian Klebig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Because virtual reality (VR) shares common features with video games, consumer content is usually classified according to traditional game genres and standards. However, VR offers different experiences based on the medium's unique affordances. To account for this disparity, the article presents a comparative analysis of titles from the Steam digital store across three platform types: VR only, VR supported, and non-VR. We analyzed data from a subset of the most popular applications within each category (N = 141, 93, and 1217, respectively). The three classification types we analyzed were academic game genres, developer defined categories, and user-denoted tags. Results identify the most common content classifications (e.g., Action and Shooter within VR only applications), the relative availability of each between platforms (e.g., Casual is more common in VR only than VR supported or non-VR), general platform popularity (e.g., VR only received less positive ratings than VR supported and non-VR), and which content types are associated with higher user ratings across platforms (e.g., Action and Music/Rhythm are most positively rated in VR only). Our findings ultimately provide a foundational framework for future theoretical constructions of classification systems based on content, market, interactivity, sociality, and service dependencies, which underlay how consumer VR is currently categorized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-477
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Games
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Ann Desrochers, Lindsey Murrell, and Matthew Klein for their research assistance. Also, they thank the AT&T endowment to the Media and Information Department at MSU for supporting Dr. Ratan’s AT&T Scholar position.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IEEE.

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