The problem of minimizing the number of vertex-guards necessary to cover a given simple polygon (MINIMUM VERTEX GUARD (MVG) problem) is NP-hard. This computational complexity opens two lines of investigation: the development of algorithms that establish approximate solutions and the determination of optimal solutions for special classes of simple polygons. In this paper we follow the first line of investigation and propose an approximation algorithm based on general metaheuristic genetic algorithms to solve the MVG problem. Based on our algorithm, we conclude that on average the minimum number of vertex-guards needed to cover an arbitrary and an orthogonal polygon with n vertices is n/6.38 and n/6.40, respectively. We also conclude that this result is very satisfactory in the sense that it is always close to optimal (with an approximation ratio of 2, for arbitrary polygons; and with an approximation ratio of 1.9, for orthogonal polygons).