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An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Multiplayer online battle arena and some real-time strategy games are also considered action games.


A major turning point for action games came with the 1978 release of the shoot 'em up game Space Invaders, which marked the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games. As a result of Space Invaders' mainstream success, the industry came to be dominated by action games, which have remained the most dominant genre in video arcades and on game consoles through to the present day. Along with Space Invaders, Asteroids from 1979 and Pac-Man from 1980 have also become iconic examples from the action genre. Robotron: 2084, released in arcades in 1982, also became a classic in the shooter subgenre. In much the same way Space Invaders set the template for the shooter game subgenre, Donkey Kong did the same for the platform game subgenre when it released in 1981. 1984 saw the emergence of martial arts themed games, with Karate Champ establishing the one-on-one fighting game subgenre, and Kung-Fu Master laying the foundations for the side-scrolling beat 'em up subgenre