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My wife needs to know, for academic reasons, what to call such a game. She's writing about using games to learn things, so here's your chance to help improve the general perception of video games ;)

In my childhood, we called the games within a game "minigames" or "the puzzle games inside the game." But I don't know what to call the "container" game, which has the other (mini)games within it.

Examples of games that contain others:

  • Final Fantasy 7 (PlayStation 1) contains a Chocobo race, a motorcycle race with Cloud or with a submarine, etc.
  • Star Ocean - The Second Story (PlayStation 1) contains a bunny race, a cooking competition, etc.

What do you call the overarching game?

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    After rereading this like 3 times and thinking for a while, it seems like you want to know what a game that contains mini games is called. Unfortunately, these days, there are a lot of games that contain mini games of various forms. It really depends on what you consider a mini game, too. Final Fantasy XV has a fishing mini game, Kingdom Hearts has a Gummi Ship mini game, Undertale has a snail racing "mini game", Uncharted 4 has a Crash Bandicoot mini game, Persona 5 has multiple video game mini games. There isn't a singular term to define a game that contains mini games; this is too broad. – Vemonus Apr 27 '17 at 19:12
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    If the game's whole purpose is minigames (Mario Party, Wario Ware, fusion Frenzy, etc) these are normally known as "Party Games", but a game with a minigame or 2 in it does not make it a party game... then it's just whatever genre it normally is. – Rapitor Apr 27 '17 at 19:26
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    My answer to this would be that there is not currently such a term with any sort of currency, so she'll have to invent one for her paper. I would suggest 'maxigame', to oppose 'minigame', but she can use whatever she thinks is appropriate. – DCShannon Apr 27 '17 at 19:49
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    @kokbira I saw this in the reopen queue and I think you have a fundamentally reasonable question. I've made a few changes, but please feel free to revert or revise any (or all!) of them -- I tried to preserve (what I believe to be) the spirit of the question as much as I could. :-) – Schism May 3 '17 at 7:37
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    I don't think this has a name. If your wife is doing this for a research paper, I'm pretty sure she can call it whatever she wants - just be sure to define it clearly at the beginning of the paper and stay consistent in the use of the term. I personally like the word "macrogame" (as opposed to the "minigames" it contains). – Mage Xy May 3 '17 at 17:03
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TLDR: You wouldn't call it anything special.

The vernacular in regards to the overarching game is to use a possessive when referring to the minigame. So for instance, Final Fantasy's Chocobo Races. There is no special word or phrase given to the "main game" as you say.

The wiki entry for minigame does not mention a phrase or word to describe the "main game" either. IGN has a phrase that pertains to the minigame calling it "The Game Within The Game" but no phrase that describes the main game either. After further research I am unable to find anything suitable.

Perhaps something to look into would be: Gameification . I know that this doesn't have to do with the name of the overarching game, but it could perhaps lead you to some sort of answer.

This is a little different than including things like Chocobo Racing or Gwent inside of The Witcher series. Gameification basically means putting a gaming element around something that usually doesn't have those elements to increase user enjoyment or engagement.

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While other answers address the specifics of the example games given, there is actually a couple of different subtypes of games that would also apply to 'Game that has other games within it' that I think is worth covering:

Minigame Compilations

These are games where the entire goal/intent of the game is to overcome a wide variety of puzzles and challenges.

There may be little to no game mechanics outside of the puzzles/challenges. Plot/Story may non-existent, or only exist in a bare-minimum fashion to drive some sort of progression & unlock more or harder minigames/challenges.

While Wikipedia calls these 'Minigame Compilations', A large subset of games in this category would also be classified as 'Party Games', and purely singleplayer versions may also be referred to as 'Puzzle Games'.

Note that not all 'group-play' games are minigame compilations (eg. Mario Kart), nor does every Puzzle game feature multiple different minigames (eg. SpaceChem), so your partner may not be able to use 'Party Game' or 'Puzzle Game' for her academic paper.

Some examples include:

See also: Wikipedia's List of Minigame Compilations


Game Packs & Collections

This classification is where the outer game acts as more of a 'launcher' for a collection of larger games (rather than minigames/challenges).

These types of games are generally called 'Packages', 'Packs', Compilations or 'Collections', the marketing folk among us would probably call it 'Product Bundling'.

Some examples include:

  • The Jackbox Party Pack - a collection of trivia-likes and other group/party games.
  • Rare Replay - a 30th anniversary collection of Rare video games (Rare the company, not as in common vs rare).
  • NES/SNES Mini/Classics - reproduction consoles loaded with classic Nintendo titles.
  • Mega Games 6 - A '6 in 1' compilation cartridge for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
  • Various 'Sega Mega Drive Genesis Collections/Packs', eg For PS2, and For Windows/Steam. - Because one can not own enough copies of Sega games.

See also: Wikipedia's List of Video Game Compilations.

The features of the 'outer game' can vary greatly, depending on the implementation. Most will have basic 'launcher' stuff like the ability to browse games and tweak some minor graphics and sound options, but other features can include:

  • Advanced graphics & sound - Scanlines & filters, colour/palette swapping, zoom/scaling, aspect ratio manipulation etc
  • Achievements and Challenge Modes
  • Progression/unlocks - eg. 'behind the scenes', concept art, cheats, mods/tweaks, bonus levels and even occasionally entire 'hidden' games.
  • Pause, Save state and 'rewind' functionality that may have not been possible on the original game.
  • Cheat engines and Mod integration

Conclusion

While larger games containing incidental minigames may not have an explicit name, there are games out there that almost purely focus on this idea, and those can be grouped and named: 'Minigame Compilation', or loosely 'Party'/'Puzzle' Games' would generally fit this scenario. While not quite what you're after, Game Compilation or Pack is also worth noting due to following a similar concept but with more rich games than just puzzles and challenges.

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