PC games | Wikipedia audio article

PC games | Wikipedia audio article


PC games, also known as computer games or
personal computer games, are video games played on a personal computer rather than a dedicated
video game console or arcade machine. Their defining characteristics include a more
diverse and user determined gaming hardware and software, and a generally greater capacity
in input, processing, and video output. Home computer games became popular following
the video game crash of 1983 leading to the era of the “bedroom coder”. In the 1990s, PC games lost mass-market traction
to console games before enjoying a resurgence in the mid-2000s through digital distribution.Newzoo
reports that the PC gaming sector is the third largest (and estimated in decline), with the
consoles second largest, and mobile, even smartphone gaming sector alone biggest, and
across all platforms as of 2016, 2.2 billion gamers generate US$101.1 billion in revenue
(i.e. all numbers exclude hardware costs), and “Digital game revenues will account for
$94.4 billion or 87% of the global market. Mobile is the most lucrative segment, with
smartphone and tablet gaming growing 19% year on year to $46.1 billion, claiming 42% of
the market. In 2020, mobile gaming will represent just
more than half of the total games market. … China expected to generate $27.5 billion,
or one-quarter of all revenues in 2017.” PC is considered synonymous (by them and others)
with IBM PC compatible systems; while mobile computers – smartphones and tablets, such
as those running Android or iOS – are also personal computers in the general sense. The “APAC” region is estimated to generate
$46.6 billion in 2016, or 47% of total global game revenues (note, not only “PC” games). China alone accounts for half of APAC’s revenues,
reaching $24.4 billion, cementing its place as the largest games market in the world,
ahead of the US’s anticipated market size of $23.5 billion. China is expected to have 53% of revenues
from mobile in 2017 (46% in 2016). The uncoordinated nature of the PC game market
and its lack of physical media make precisely assessing its size difficult.==History=====
Early growth===Bertie the Brain was one of the first game
playing machines developed. It was built in 1950 by Josef Kates. It measured more than four meters tall, and
was displayed at the Canadian National Exhibition that year.Although personal computers only
became popular with the development of the microprocessor and microcomputer, computer
gaming on mainframes and minicomputers had previously already existed. OXO, an adaptation of tic-tac-toe for the
EDSAC, debuted in 1952. Another pioneer computer game was developed
in 1961, when MIT students Martin Graetz and Alan Kotok, with MIT student Steve Russell,
developed Spacewar! on a PDP-1 mainframe computer used for statistical calculations.The first
generation of computer games were often text adventures or interactive fiction, in which
the player communicated with the computer by entering commands through a keyboard. An early text-adventure, Adventure, was developed
for the PDP-11 minicomputer by Will Crowther in 1976, and expanded by Don Woods in 1977. By the 1980s, personal computers had become
powerful enough to run games like Adventure, but by this time, graphics were beginning
to become an important factor in games. Later games combined textual commands with
basic graphics, as seen in the SSI Gold Box games such as Pool of Radiance, or Bard’s
Tale for example. By the late 1970s to early 1980s, games were
developed and distributed through hobbyist groups and gaming magazines, such as Creative
Computing and later Computer Gaming World. These publications provided game code that
could be typed into a computer and played, encouraging readers to submit their own software
to competitions. Players could modify the BASIC source code
of even commercial games. Microchess was one of the first games for
microcomputers which was sold to the public. First sold in 1977, Microchess eventually
sold over 50,000 copies on cassette tape. As with second-generation video game consoles
at the time, early home computer game companies capitalized on successful arcade games at
the time with ports or clones of popular arcade games. By 1982, the top-selling games for the Atari
400 were ports of Frogger and Centipede, while the top-selling game for the Texas Instruments
TI-99/4A was the Space Invaders clone TI Invaders. That same year, Pac-Man was ported to the
Atari 800, while Donkey Kong was licensed for the Coleco Adam. In late 1981, Atari attempted to take legal
action against unauthorized clones, particularly Pac-Man clones, despite some of these predating
Atari’s exclusive rights to the home versions of Namco’s game.===Industry crash and aftermath===As the video game market became flooded with
poor-quality cartridge games created by numerous companies attempting to enter the market,
and overproduction of high-profile releases such as the Atari 2600 adaptations of Pac-Man
and E.T. grossly underperformed, the popularity of personal computers for education rose dramatically. In 1983, consumer interest in console video
games dwindled to historical lows, as interest in games on personal computers rose. The effects of the crash were largely limited
to the console market, as established companies such as Atari posted record losses over subsequent
years. Conversely, the home computer market boomed,
as sales of low-cost color computers such as the Commodore 64 rose to record highs and
developers such as Electronic Arts benefited from increasing interest in the platform.To
enhance the immersive experience with their unrealistic graphics and electronic sound,
early PC games included extras such as the peril-sensitive sunglasses that shipped with
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the science fiction novella included with Elite. These extras gradually became less common,
but many games were still sold in the traditional oversized boxes that used to hold the extra
“feelies”. Today, such extras are usually found only
in Special Edition versions of games, such as Battlechests from Blizzard.The North American
console market experienced a resurgence in the United States with the release of the
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In Europe, computer gaming continued to boom
for many years after. Computers such as the ZX Spectrum and BBC
Micro were successful in the European market, where the NES was not as successful despite
its monopoly in Japan and North America. The only 8-bit console to have any success
in Europe would be the Sega Master System. Meanwhile, in Japan, both consoles and computers
became major industries, with the console market dominated by Nintendo and the computer
market dominated by NEC’s PC-88 (1981) and PC-98 (1982). A key difference between Western and Japanese
computers at the time was the display resolution, with Japanese systems using a higher resolution
of 640×400 to accommodate Japanese text which in turn affected video game design and allowed
more detailed graphics. Japanese computers were also using Yamaha’s
FM synth sound boards from the early 1980s.During the 16-bit era, the Commodore Amiga and Atari
ST became popular in Europe, while the PC-98, Sharp X68000 and FM Towns became popular in
Japan. The Amiga, X68000 and FM Towns were capable
of producing near arcade-quality hardware sprite graphics and sound quality when they
first released in the mid-to-late 1980s.===Growth of IBM PC gaming===
Among launch titles for the IBM Personal Computer (PC) in 1981 was Microsoft Adventure, which
IBM described as bringing “players into a fantasy world of caves and treasures”. BYTE that year stated that the computer’s
speed and sophistication made it “an excellent gaming device”, and IBM and others sold games
like Microsoft Flight Simulator. The PC’s CGA graphics and speaker sound were
poor, however, and most customers bought the powerful but expensive computer for business. Although InfoWorld in 1984 reported that “in
offices all over America (more than anyone realizes) executives and managers are playing
games on their computers”, software companies found selling games for the PC difficult;
an observer said that year that Flight Simulator had sold hundreds of thousands of copies because
customers with corporate PCs could claim that it was a “simulation”.From mid-1985, however,
what Compute! described as a “wave” of inexpensive IBM PC clones from American and Asian companies,
such as the Tandy 1000, caused prices to decline; by the end of 1986, the equivalent to a $1600
real IBM PC with 256K RAM and two disk drives cost as little as $600, lower than the price
of the Apple IIc. Consumers began purchasing DOS computers for
the home in large numbers. While often purchased to do work in evenings
and weekends, clones’ popularity caused consumer-software companies to increase the number of IBM-compatible
products, including those developed specifically for the PC as opposed to porting from other
computers. Bing Gordon of Electronic Arts reported that
customers used computers for games more than one fifth of the time whether purchased for
work or a hobby, with many who purchased computers for other reasons finding PC games “a pretty
satisfying experience”.By 1987, the PC market was growing so quickly that the formerly business-only
computer had become the largest and fastest-growing, and most important platform for computer game
companies. DOS computers dominated the home, supplanting
Commodore and Apple. More than a third of games sold in North America
were for the PC, twice as many as those for the Apple II and even outselling those for
the Commodore 64. With the EGA video card, an inexpensive clone
had better graphics and more memory for games than the Commodore or Apple, and the Tandy
1000’s enhanced graphics, sound, and built-in joystick ports made it the best platform for
IBM PC-compatible games before the VGA era.By 1988, the enormous popularity of the Nintendo
Entertainment System had greatly affected the computer-game industry. A Koei executive claimed that “Nintendo’s
success has destroyed the [computer] software entertainment market”. A Mindscape executive agreed, saying that
“Unfortunately, its effect has been extremely negative. Without question, Nintendo’s success has eroded
software sales. There’s been a much greater falling off of
disk sales than anyone anticipated.” A third attributed the end of growth in sales
of the Commodore 64 to the console, and Trip Hawkins called Nintendo “the last hurrah of
the 8-bit world”. Experts were unsure whether it affected 16-bit
computer games, but Hawkins in 1990 nonetheless had to deny rumors that Electronic Arts would
withdraw from computers and only produce console games. By 1993 ASCII Entertainment reported at a
Software Publishers Association conference that the market for console games ($5.9 billion
in revenue) was 12 times that of the computer-game market ($430 million).Computer games, however,
did not disappear. By 1989 Computer Gaming World reported that
“the industry is moving toward heavy use of VGA graphics”. While some games were advertised with VGA
support at the start of the year, they usually supported EGA graphics through VGA cards. By the end of 1989, however, most publishers
moved to at supporting at least 320×200 MCGA, a subset of VGA. VGA gave the PC graphics that outmatched the
Amiga. Increasing adoption of the computer mouse,
driven partially by the success of adventure games such as the highly successful King’s
Quest series, and high resolution bitmap displays allowed the industry to include increasingly
high-quality graphical interfaces in new releases. Further improvements to game artwork and audio
were made possible with the introduction of FM synthesis sound. Yamaha began manufacturing FM synth boards
for computers in the early-mid-1980s, and by 1985, the NEC and FM-7 computers had built-in
FM sound. The first PC sound cards, such as AdLib’s
Music Synthesizer Card, soon appeared in 1987. These cards allowed IBM PC compatible computers
to produce complex sounds using FM synthesis, where they had previously been limited to
simple tones and beeps. However, the rise of the Creative Labs Sound
Blaster card, released in 1989, which featured much higher sound quality due to the inclusion
of a PCM channel and digital signal processor, led AdLib to file for bankruptcy by 1992. Also in 1989, the FM Towns computer included
built-in PCM sound, in addition to a CD-ROM drive and 24-bit color graphics.By 1990, DOS
was 65% of the computer-game market, with the Amiga at 10%; all other computers, including
the Apple Macintosh, were below 10% and declining. Although both Apple and IBM tried to avoid
customers associating their products with “game machines”, the latter acknowledged that
VGA, audio, and joystick options for its PS/1 computer were popular. In 1991, id Software produced an early first-person
shooter, Hovertank 3D, which was the company’s first in their line of highly influential
games in the genre. There were also several other companies that
produced early first-person shooters, such as Arsys Software’s Star Cruiser, which featured
fully 3D polygonal graphics in 1988, and Accolade’s Day of the Viper in 1989. Id Software went on to develop Wolfenstein
3D in 1992, which helped to popularize the genre, kick-starting a genre that would become
one of the highest-selling in modern times. The game was originally distributed through
the shareware distribution model, allowing players to try a limited part of the game
for free but requiring payment to play the rest, and represented one of the first uses
of texture mapping graphics in a popular game, along with Ultima Underworld.In December 1992,
Computer Gaming World reported that DOS accounted for 82% of computer-game sales in 1991, compared
to Macintosh’s 8% and Amiga’s 5%. In response to a reader’s challenge to find
a DOS game that played better than the Amiga version the magazine cited Wing Commander
and Civilization, and added that “The heavy MS-DOS emphasis in CGW merely reflects the
realities of the market”. A self-reported Computer Gaming World survey
in April 1993 similarly found that 91% of readers primarily used IBM PCs and compatibles
for gaming, compared to 6% for Amiga, 3% for Macintosh, and 1% for Atari ST, while a Software
Publishers Association study found that 74% of personal computers were IBMs or compatible,
10% Macintosh, 7% Apple II, and 8% other. 51% of IBM or compatible had 386 or faster
CPUs. By 1992 DOS games such as Links 386 Pro supported
Super VGA graphics. While leading Sega and Nintendo console systems
kept their CPU speed at 3–7 MHz, the 486 PC processor ran much faster, allowing it
to perform many more calculations per second. The 1993 release of Doom on the PC was a breakthrough
in 3D graphics, and was soon ported to various game consoles in a general shift toward greater
realism. Computer Gaming World reiterated in 1994,
“we have to advise readers who want a machine that will play most of the games to purchase
high-end MS-DOS machines”.By spring 1994 an estimated 24 million US homes (27% of households)
had a personal computer. 48% played games on their computer; 40% had
the 486 CPU or higher; 35% had CD-ROM drives; and 20% had a sound card. Another survey found that an estimated 2.46
million multimedia computers had internal CD-ROM drives by the end of 1993, an increase
of almost 2,000%. Computer Gaming World reported in April 1994
that some software publishers planned to only distribute on CD as of 1995. CD-ROM had much larger storage capacity than
floppies, helped reduce software piracy, and was less expensive to produce. Chris Crawford warned that it was “a data-intensive
technology, not a process-intensive one”, tempting developers to emphasize the quantity
of digital assets like art and music over the quality of gameplay; Computer Gaming World
wrote in 1993 that “publishers may be losing their focus”. While many companies used the additional storage
to release poor-quality shovelware collections of older software, or “enhanced” versions
of existing ones—often with what the magazine mocked as “amateur acting” in the added audio
and video—new games such as Myst included many more assets for a richer game experience. Many companies sold “multimedia upgrade kits”
that bundled CD drives, sound cards, and software during the mid-1990s, but device drivers for
the new peripherals further depleted scarce RAM. By 1993, PC games required much more memory
than other software, often consuming all of conventional memory, while device drivers
could go into upper memory with DOS memory managers. Players found modifying CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT
files for memory management cumbersome and confusing, and each game needed a different
configuration. (The game Les Manley 2 satirizes this by depicting
two beautiful women exhaust the hero in bed, by requesting that he again explain the difference
between extended and expanded memory.) Computer Gaming World provided technical assistance
to its writers to help install games for review, and published sample configuration files. The magazine advised non-technical gamers
to purchase commercial memory managers like QEMM and 386MAX and criticized nonstandard
software like Origin Systems’s “infamous late and unlamented Voodoo Memory Manager”, which
used unreal mode.===Contemporary gaming===
By 1996, the growing popularity of Microsoft Windows simplified device driver and memory
management. The success of 3D console titles such as Super
Mario 64 and Tomb Raider increased interest in hardware accelerated 3D graphics on PCs,
and soon resulted in attempts to produce affordable solutions with the ATI Rage, Matrox Mystique,
S3 ViRGE, and Rendition Vérité. As 3D graphics libraries such as DirectX and
OpenGL matured and knocked proprietary interfaces out of the market, these platforms gained
greater acceptance in the market, particularly with their demonstrated benefits in games
such as Unreal. However, major changes to the Microsoft Windows
operating system, by then the market leader, made many older DOS-based games unplayable
on Windows NT, and later, Windows XP (without using an emulator, such as DOSbox).The faster
graphics accelerators and improving CPU technology resulted in increasing levels of realism in
computer games. During this time, the improvements introduced
with products such as ATI’s Radeon R300 and NVidia’s GeForce 6 Series have allowed developers
to increase the complexity of modern game engines. PC gaming currently tends strongly toward
improvements in 3D graphics.Unlike the generally accepted push for improved graphical performance,
the use of physics engines in computer games has become a matter of debate since announcement
and 2005 release of the nVidia PhysX PPU, ostensibly competing with middleware such
as the Havok physics engine. Issues such as difficulty in ensuring consistent
experiences for all players, and the uncertain benefit of first generation PhysX cards in
games such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and City of Villains, prompted
arguments over the value of such technology.Similarly, many game publishers began to experiment with
new forms of marketing. Chief among these alternative strategies is
episodic gaming, an adaptation of the older concept of expansion packs, in which game
content is provided in smaller quantities but for a proportionally lower price. Titles such as Half-Life 2: Episode One took
advantage of the idea, with mixed results rising from concerns for the amount of content
provided for the price.==Platform characteristics=====
Fidelity===In high-end PC gaming, a PC will generally
have far more processing resources at its disposal than other gaming systems. Game developers can use this to improve the
visual fidelity of their game relative to other platforms, but even if they do not,
games running on PC are likely to benefit from higher screen resolution, higher framerate,
and anti-aliasing. Increased draw distance is also common in
open world games.Better hardware also increases the potential fidelity of a PC game’s rules
and simulation. PC games often support more players or NPCs
than equivalents on other platforms and game designs which depend on the simulation of
large numbers of tokens (e.g. Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft) are rarely seen anywhere
else.The PC also supports greater input fidelity thanks to its compatibility with a wide array
of peripherals. The most common forms of input are the mouse/keyboard
combination and gamepads, though touchscreens and motion controllers are also available. The mouse in particular lends players of first-person
shooter and real-time strategy games on PC great speed and accuracy.===Openness===
The defining characteristic of the PC platform is the absence of centralized control; all
other gaming platforms (except Android devices, to an extent) are owned and administered by
a single group. The advantages of openness include: Reduced software cost
Prices are kept down by competition and the absence of platform-holder fees. Games and services are cheaper at every level,
and many are free. Increased flexibility
PC games decades old can be played on modern systems, through emulation software if need
be. Conversely, newer games can often be run on
older systems by reducing the games’ fidelity and/or scale. Increased innovation
One does not need to ask for permission to release or update a PC game or to modify an
existing one, and the platform’s hardware and software are constantly evolving. These factors make PC the centre of both hardware
and software innovation. By comparison, closed platforms tend to remain
much the same throughout their lifespan.But there are also disadvantages, including: Increased complexity
A PC is a general-purpose tool. Its inner workings are exposed to the owner,
and misconfiguration can create enormous problems. Hardware compatibility issues are also possible. Game development is complicated by the wide
variety of hardware configurations; developers may be forced to limit their design to run
with sub-optimum PC hardware in order to reach a larger PC market, or add a range graphical
and other settings to adjust for playability on individual machines, requiring increased
development, test, and customer support resources. Increased hardware cost
PC components are generally sold individually for profit (even if one buys a pre-built machine),
whereas the hardware of closed platforms is mass-produced as a single unit and often sold
at a smaller profit, or even a loss (with the intention of making profit instead in
online service fees and developer kit profits). Reduced security
It is difficult, and in most situations ultimately impossible, to control the way in which PC
hardware and software is used. This leads to far more software piracy and
cheating than closed platforms suffer from.====Mods====The openness of the PC platform allows players
to edit their games and distribute the results over the Internet as “mods”. A healthy mod community greatly increases
a game’s longevity and the most popular mods have driven purchases of their parent game
to record heights. It is common for professional developers to
release the tools they use to create their games (and sometimes even source code) in
order to encourage modding, but if a game is popular enough mods generally arise even
without official support.Mods can compete with official downloadable content however,
or even outright redistribute it, and their ability to extend the lifespan of a game can
work against its developers’ plans for regular sequels. As game technology has become more complex,
it has also become harder to distribute development tools to the public.Modding has a different
connotation on consoles which are typically restricted much more heavily. As publicly released development tools are
rare, console mods usually refer to hardware alterations designed to remove restrictions.===Dominant software===
Although the PC platform is almost completely decentralized at a hardware level, there are
two dominant software forces: the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Steam distribution
service. Microsoft introduced an operating environment
named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to DOS in response to the growing interest
in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world’s
personal computer market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced
in 1984. Valve does not release any sales figures on
its Steam service, instead it only provides the data to companies with games on Steam,
which they cannot release without permission due to signing a non-disclosure agreement
with Valve. However, Stardock, the previous owner of competing
platform Impulse, estimated that, as of 2009, Steam had a 70% share of the digital distribution
market for video games. In early 2011, Forbes reported that Steam
sales constituted 50–70% of the $4 billion market for downloaded PC games and that Steam
offered game producers gross margins of 70% of purchase price, compared with 30% at retail. In 2011, Steam served over 780 petabytes of
information, double what it had delivered in 2010.====Digital distribution services====PC games are sold predominantly through the
Internet, with buyers downloading their new purchase directly to their computer. This approach allows smaller independent developers
to compete with large publisher-backed games and avoids the speed and capacity limits of
the optical discs which most other gaming platforms rely on.Valve Corporation released
the Steam platform for Windows computers in 2003 as a means to distribute Valve-developed
video games such as Half-Life 2. It would later see release on the Mac OS X
operating system in 2010 and was released on Linux in 2012 as well. By 2011, it controlled 70% of the market for
downloadable PC games, with a userbase of about 40 million accounts. Origin, a new version of the Electronic Arts
online store, was released in 2011 in order to compete with Steam and other digital distribution
platforms on the PC. The period between 2004 and now saw the rise
of many digital distribution services on PC, such as Amazon Digital Services, GameStop,
GFWL, EA Store, Direct2Drive, GOG.com, and GamersGate. Digital distribution also slashes the cost
of circulation, eliminates stock shortages, allows games to be released worldwide at no
additional cost, and allows niche audiences to be reached with ease. However, most digital distribution systems
create ownership and customer rights issues by storing access rights on distributor-owned
computers. Games confer with these computers over the
Internet before launching. This raises the prospect of purchases being
lost if the distributor goes out of business or chooses to lock the buyer’s account, and
prevents resale (the ethics of which are a matter of debate).==PC gaming technology=====
Hardware===Modern computer games place great demand on
the computer’s hardware, often requiring a fast central processing unit (CPU) to function
properly. CPU manufacturers historically relied mainly
on increasing clock rates to improve the performance of their processors, but had begun to move
steadily towards multi-core CPUs by 2005. These processors allow the computer to simultaneously
process multiple tasks, called threads, allowing the use of more complex graphics, artificial
intelligence and in-game physics.Similarly, 3D games often rely on a powerful graphics
processing unit (GPU), which accelerates the process of drawing complex scenes in realtime. GPUs may be an integrated part of the computer’s
motherboard, the most common solution in laptops, or come packaged with a discrete graphics
card with a supply of dedicated Video RAM, connected to the motherboard through either
an AGP or PCI-Express port. It is also possible to use multiple GPUs in
a single computer, using technologies such as NVidia’s Scalable Link Interface and ATI’s
CrossFire. Sound cards are also available to provide
improved audio in computer games. These cards provide improved 3D audio and
provide audio enhancement that is generally not available with integrated alternatives,
at the cost of marginally lower overall performance. The Creative Labs SoundBlaster line was for
many years the de facto standard for sound cards, although its popularity dwindled as
PC audio became a commodity on modern motherboards. Physics processing units (PPUs), such as the
Nvidia PhysX (formerly AGEIA PhysX) card, are also available to accelerate physics simulations
in modern computer games. PPUs allow the computer to process more complex
interactions among objects than is achievable using only the CPU, potentially allowing players
a much greater degree of control over the world in games designed to use the card.Virtually
all personal computers use a keyboard and mouse for user input. Other common gaming peripherals are a headset
for faster communication in online games, joysticks for flight simulators, steering
wheels for driving games and gamepads for console-style games.===Software===
Computer games also rely on third-party software such as an operating system (OS), device drivers,
libraries and more to run. Today, the vast majority of computer games
are designed to run on the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems. Whereas earlier games written for DOS would
include code to communicate directly with hardware, today application programming interfaces
(APIs) provide an interface between the game and the OS, simplifying game design. Microsoft’s DirectX is an API that is widely
used by today’s computer games to communicate with sound and graphics hardware. OpenGL is a cross-platform API for graphics
rendering that is also used. The version of the graphics card’s driver
installed can often affect game performance and gameplay. In late 2013, AMD announced Mantle, a low-level
API for certain models of AMD graphics cards, allowing for greater performance compared
to software-level APIs such as DirectX, as well as simplifying porting to and from the
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, which are both built upon AMD hardware. It is not unusual for a game company to use
a third-party game engine, or third-party libraries for a game’s AI or physics.===Multiplayer=======
Local area network gaming====Multiplayer gaming was largely limited to
local area networks (LANs) before cost-effective broadband Internet access became available,
due to their typically higher bandwidth and lower latency than the dial-up services of
the time. These advantages allowed more players to join
any given computer game, but have persisted today because of the higher latency of most
Internet connections and the costs associated with broadband Internet. LAN gaming typically requires two or more
personal computers, a router and sufficient networking cables to connect every computer
on the network. Additionally, each computer must have its
own copy (or spawn copy) of the game in order to play. Optionally, any LAN may include an external
connection to the Internet.====Online games====Online multiplayer games have achieved popularity
largely as a result of increasing broadband adoption among consumers. Affordable high-bandwidth Internet connections
allow large numbers of players to play together, and thus have found particular use in massively
multiplayer online role-playing games, Tanarus and persistent online games such as World
War II Online. Although it is possible to participate in
online computer games using dial-up modems, broadband Internet connections are generally
considered necessary in order to reduce the latency between players (commonly known as
“lag”). Such connections require a broadband-compatible
modem connected to the personal computer through a network interface card (generally integrated
onto the computer’s motherboard), optionally separated by a router. Online games require a virtual environment,
generally called a “game server”. These virtual servers inter-connect gamers,
allowing real time, and often fast-paced action. To meet this subsequent need, Game Server
Providers (GSP) have become increasingly more popular over the last half decade. While not required for all gamers, these servers
provide a unique “home”, fully customizable (such as additional modifications, settings,
etc.) – giving the end gamers the experience they desire. Today there are over 510,000 game servers
hosted in North America alone.===Emulation===Emulation software, used to run software without
the original hardware, are popular for their ability to play legacy video games without
the platform for which they were designed. The operating system emulators include DOSBox,
a DOS emulator which allows playing games developed originally for this operating system
and thus not compatible with a modern-day OS. Console emulators such as Nestopia and MAME
are relatively commonplace, although the complexity of modern consoles such as the Xbox or PlayStation
makes them far more difficult to emulate, even for the original manufacturers. The most technically advanced consoles that
can currently be successfully emulated for commercial games on PC are the PlayStation
2 using PCSX2, and the Nintendo Wii U using the Cemu emulator. A PlayStation 3 emulator named RPCS3 is currently
in the works, although it can currently only run small Homebrew games and certain old arcade
titles that were originally ported to the PS3 from older platforms.Most emulation software
mimics a particular hardware architecture, often to an extremely high degree of accuracy. This is particularly the case with classic
home computers such as the Commodore 64, whose software often depends on highly sophisticated
low-level programming tricks invented by game programmers and the demoscene.==Controversy==PC games have long been a source of controversy,
largely due to the violence that has become commonly associated with video games in general. The debate surrounds the influence of objectionable
content on the social development of minors, with organizations such as the American Psychological
Association concluding that video game violence increases children’s aggression, a concern
that prompted a further investigation by the Centers for Disease Control in September 2006. Industry groups have responded by noting the
responsibility of parents in governing their children’s activities, while attempts in the
United States to control the sale of objectionable games have generally been found unconstitutional.Video
game addiction is another cultural aspect of gaming to draw criticism as it can have
a negative influence on health and on social relations. The problem of addiction and its health risks
seems to have grown with the rise of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). Alongside the social and health problems associated
with computer game addiction have grown similar worries about the effect of computer games
on education.==Computer games museums==There are several computer games museums around
the world. In 2011 one opened in Berlin, a computer game
museum that documents computer games from the 1970s until today. The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment,
in Oakland, California also exhibits PC games in its general collection. The Video Game Museum in Rome is dedicated
to the preservation of videogames, and includes Pss games in its collection. The Computer History Museum in Mountain View,
California holds a collection of PC games, and allows visitors to play Spacewar!, the
first computer game, on a restored original PDP_1.==See also==Arcade game
Console game Game studies
Handheld video game Mobile game
List of PC games

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