Benefits of Gaming – PC and Video Games

New PC and video games are not only capable of providing fun and excitement for everyone, but they can also give certain benefits and advantages.

With the help of advanced technology and popularity, the gaming industry has advanced and expanded rapidly over the years.

If we are looking for categorization of videos games, they are broadly divided into eight major categories:

Action

These are fast paced and may contain a large amount of violence due to this. Action games are usually inappropriate for children. Such games fall under the category “M” (mature-rated). Examples are Halo, Star Wars, Jedi Knight and Enter the Matrix.

Adventure and Role Playing

These are normally not as graphic as action games and can take the player into surrealism and fantasy. Though adventure and role-playing games often contain violence, it is not found to be as intense as the violence in action games. Examples of this category are Borderlands 2, Final Fantasy, Legend of Mana and Billy Hatcher.

First Person Shooters

As the name implies, it is a game in which the player sees the action through the eyes of the character he is representing and involves the use of pistols or rifles to kill the enemy. Due to the violence involved in this genre of games, they are not suitable for young children. Examples of these games are “Half-Life, “Half-Life 2”, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and so on.

Construction and Management Simulation (CMS)

As the name suggests, in the games belonging to this genre, the players are expected to build, expand and manage imaginary projects and communities with very little resources. Examples of this genre include, “SimCity” and “Harvest Moon”.

Strategy

Here the accent is on strategy rather than on violence and these games are slower which gives the player time for strategic thinking, resource management and planning to achieve victory. Most are warfare based and so violence is not completely absent. These games are not suitable for children. Some examples are Advanced Wars I & II, Civilization V and Crusader Kings II.

Simulation

These are video or computer games that simulate real world situations under game settings. In this category, the three well-known games are Racing Simulators, Flight Simulators and Sims. There are lots of games in this class to entertain children. Some examples of simulation games are: Football Manager, Farming Simulator 2013, The Sims and Evil Genius.

Platformer

The Platform Game or Platformer is consists of jumping between suspended platforms of varying heights or obstacles and sometimes both to move forward in the game. Some examples of Platformer are 40 Winks, Abuse, Action 52 and Adventure Island.

PUZZLES

Puzzle video games are a class of games that require puzzle solving. The kinds of puzzles that need to be solved can involve many problem solving skills such as using logic, word completion sequence solving, strategy and pattern recognition. Some examples of Puzzle Video Games are Mario, Bejeweled 3, Cradle of Rome 2 and Hidden Objects.

While on the subject, let’s not forget Sports games such as NHL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13 and Arcade games such Chicken Shoot 1, Toy Story Mania and Angry Birds to name a few.

Nowadays, video games are enjoyed by a wide cross-section of our society, from toddlers to grandparents and these have been accepted by everyone as a good manner of entertainment and seen to be better than watching TV as it requires the viewer’s participation and interaction.

The general feeling is that video games do not provide any benefits to the player and especially so in the case of children.

Contrary to this belief, there are many benefits in allowing children to play certain types of games. Most important of these benefits is the development of:

· Cognitive thinking skills

· Fine motor skills

· Real-time decision-making abilities

· Hand-eye coordination

· Cooperative playing skills

Keeping video games out of the reach of children can only deprive them of these benefits.

A child’s imagination can be stimulated through role-playing and adventure games. Even if some of these games can seem tasteless due to its graphic nature and violence, they can play a positive and important role in a child’s development by promoting teamwork, building confidence and improving motor skills. Playing such video games will only provide a child with a healthy means of expression.

Certain video games are believed to teach children high level thinking skills which they would benefit from in the future.

Now that we have looked at the benefits for children, let’s look at what benefits video games hold for the rest of us.

Research into the pros and cons of video games are being conducted by various bodies including universities in some parts of the world and the result is that the pros outweigh the cons in respect of benefits.

When playing video games, you would need to react quickly and take split second decisions in order to succeed in the given task. It is believed that this kind of practice would provide benefits in real life where you would be able react with speed and take quick decisions.

Brain scientists have discovered that a certain driving video game, created by a research and development team at the University of California in San Francisco could improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults.

It was found that immersion in a game distracts the mind from pain and discomfort. Due to this reason, some hospitals have started to suggest that children and others undergoing painful treatments play games to reduce their distress and anxiety.

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What Is a Game?

We probably all have a pretty good intuitive notion of what a game is. The general term “game” encompasses board games like chess and Monopoly, card games like poker and blackjack, casino games like roulette and slot machines, military war games, computer games, various kinds of play among children, and the list goes on. In academia we sometimes speak of game theory, in which multiple agents select strategies and tactics in order to maximize their gains within the framework of a well-defined set of game rules. When used in the context of console or computer-based entertainment, the word “game” usually conjures images of a three-dimensional virtual world featuring a humanoid, animal or vehicle as the main character under player control. (Or for the old geezers among us, perhaps it brings to mind images of two-dimensional classics like Pong, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong.) In his excellent book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster defines a game to be an interactive experience that provides the player with an increasingly challenging sequence of patterns which he or she learns and eventually masters. Koster’s asser-tion is that the activities of learning and mastering are at the heart of what we call “fun,” just as a joke becomes funny at the moment we “get it” by recognizing the pattern.

Video Games as Soft Real-Time Simulations

Most two- and three-dimensional video games are examples of what computer scientists would call soft real-time interactive agent-based computer simulations. Let’s break this phrase down in order to better understand what it means. In most video games, some subset of the real world -or an imaginary world- is modeled mathematically so that it can be manipulated by a computer. The model is an approximation to and a simplification of reality (even if it’s an imaginary reality), because it is clearly impractical to include every detail down to the level of atoms or quarks. Hence, the mathematical model is a simulation of the real or imagined game world. Approximation and simplification are two of the game developer’s most powerful tools. When used skillfully, even a greatly simplified model can sometimes be almost indistinguishable from reality and a lot more fun.

An agent-based simulation is one in which a number of distinct entities known as “agents” interact. This fits the description of most three-dimensional computer games very well, where the agents are vehicles, characters, fireballs, power dots and so on. Given the agent-based nature of most games, it should come as no surprise that most games nowadays are implemented in an object-oriented, or at least loosely object-based, programming language.

All interactive video games are temporal simulations, meaning that the vir- tual game world model is dynamic-the state of the game world changes over time as the game’s events and story unfold. A video game must also respond to unpredictable inputs from its human player(s)-thus interactive temporal simulations. Finally, most video games present their stories and respond to player input in real time, making them interactive real-time simulations.

One notable exception is in the category of turn-based games like computerized chess or non-real-time strategy games. But even these types of games usually provide the user with some form of real-time graphical user interface.

What Is a Game Engine?

The term “game engine” arose in the mid-1990s in reference to first-person shooter (FPS) games like the insanely popular Doom by id Software. Doom was architected with a reasonably well-defined separation between its core software components (such as the three-dimensional graphics rendering system, the collision detection system or the audio system) and the art assets, game worlds and rules of play that comprised the player’s gaming experience. The value of this separation became evident as developers began licensing games and retooling them into new products by creating new art, world layouts, weapons, characters, vehicles and game rules with only minimal changes to the “engine” software. This marked the birth of the “mod community”-a group of individual gamers and small independent studios that built new games by modifying existing games, using free toolkits pro- vided by the original developers. Towards the end of the 1990s, some games like Quake III Arena and Unreal were designed with reuse and “modding” in mind. Engines were made highly customizable via scripting languages like id’s Quake C, and engine licensing began to be a viable secondary revenue stream for the developers who created them. Today, game developers can license a game engine and reuse significant portions of its key software components in order to build games. While this practice still involves considerable investment in custom software engineering, it can be much more economical than developing all of the core engine components in-house. The line between a game and its engine is often blurry.

Some engines make a reasonably clear distinction, while others make almost no attempt to separate the two. In one game, the rendering code might “know” specifi-cally how to draw an orc. In another game, the rendering engine might provide general-purpose material and shading facilities, and “orc-ness” might be defined entirely in data. No studio makes a perfectly clear separation between the game and the engine, which is understandable considering that the definitions of these two components often shift as the game’s design solidifies.

Arguably a data-driven architecture is what differentiates a game engine from a piece of software that is a game but not an engine. When a game contains hard-coded logic or game rules, or employs special-case code to render specific types of game objects, it becomes difficult or impossible to reuse that software to make a different game. We should probably reserve the term “game engine” for software that is extensible and can be used as the foundation for many different games without major modification.

Clearly this is not a black-and-white distinction. We can think of a gamut of reusability onto which every engine falls. One would think that a game engine could be something akin to Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Windows Media Player-a general-purpose piece of software capable of playing virtually any game content imaginable. However, this ideal has not yet been achieved (and may never be). Most game engines are carefully crafted and fine-tuned to run a particular game on a particular hardware platform. And even the most general-purpose multiplatform engines are really only suitable for building games in one particular genre, such as first-person shooters or racing games. It’s safe to say that the more general-purpose a game engine or middleware component is, the less optimal it is for running a particular game on a particular platform.

This phenomenon occurs because designing any efficient piece of software invariably entails making trade-offs, and those trade-offs are based on assumptions about how the software will be used and/or about the target hardware on which it will run. For example, a rendering engine that was designed to handle intimate indoor environments probably won’t be very good at rendering vast outdoor environments. The indoor engine might use a binary space partitioning (BSP) tree or portal system to ensure that no geometry is drawn that is being occluded by walls or objects that are closer to the camera. The outdoor engine, on the other hand, might use a less-exact occlusion mechanism, or none at all, but it probably makes aggressive use of level-of-detail (LOD) techniques to ensure that distant objects are rendered with a minimum number of triangles, while using high-resolution triangle meshes for geome-try that is close to the camera.

The advent of ever-faster computer hardware and specialized graphics cards, along with ever-more-efficient rendering algorithms and data structures, is beginning to soften the differences between the graphics engines of different genres. It is now possible to use a first-person shooter engine to build a real-time strategy game, for example. However, the trade-off between generality and optimality still exists. A game can always be made more impressive by fine-tuning the engine to the specific requirements and constraints of a particular game and/or hardware platform.

Engine Differences Across Genres

Game engines are typically somewhat genre spec

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