Computer Games Essay

Computer Games

            Computers are changing the world. What was once invented to work as an advanced calculators, computers have become a valuable part of our lives. It is changing the way we work, making it easier for us to encode, do statistical configurations, draft manuscripts and reports. It is changing the way we communicate, enabling us to talk to family and friends living ten thousand miles away.  It is changing the way we shop, allowing us to buy and even do auction in just one click. It is changing the way we research, facilitating borrowing online books without dragging an actual book to or houses. It is changing the way we entertain, from the entry of digital film and music readily available 24/7.   An example of computer technology that the world is enjoying is the proliferation of computer games.  A 1995 survey conducted by U.S. research firm Inteco show that 70% of people with computers use them to play games (Koelsch, 1995, p. 47).  The figures have obviously increased since them. In 2007, sales for computers games reached a staggering US$911 million, 40% up from 2006 (NPD Group, 2008).

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            Before the history of computer games is discussed, it is imperative to distinguish it from video games.  While some may say that they can be interchangeable, there is distinct difference- video game and console games are connected to a TV, which serves as the monitor, whereas computer games are exclusively played on a computer.

The first computer game invented was called Spacewar. A screenshot is provided below. In 1962, Steve Russell, a computer programmer from MIT, headed a team to create Spacewar (Bellis, n.d.). Working on the writings of E.E. Smith, the team spent 200 hours creating Spacewar (n.d.). The game was written on PDP-1, a DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) minicomputer utilizing cathode-ray tube display. The PDP-1’s operating system (OS) enabled users to play all together, necessary for Spacewar since it was a two-player game (n.d.). The rule of the game was to control a spaceship while shooting photon torpedoes (n.d.).

Image 1 Spacewar Screenshot (Bellis, n.d).

            The birth of Spacewar ushered in a slew of computer games programmed in BASIC Programming language such Lunar Lander, a text-based simulation game; Hammurabi, which incorporated economic issues like tax revenues; and Hunt the Wumpus, which is said to be the predecessor of Dungeon & Dragon franchise (Fuchs, n.d.).  Even Hammurabi, which tackles real-life situations, is a forerunner of SimCity (n.d.). In 1979, Activision became the first company created solely to program computer games (n.d.). Furthermore, the development of home computers paved the way for development of more computer games.   The year 1994 saw the rise of PC CD-ROM games (n.d.).

            Computer games maybe categorized into two: skill and action games and strategy games (Crawford, 1997).  Skill and action computer games consists of combat games, maze games, sports games, paddle games, and race games while strategy games include  war games, games of chance, educational and children’s games, interpersonal games and D & D games (1997).

            Computer games rely on the computer’s hardware, the central processing unit (CPU). The processors enable the computer to employ graphics, which computer games require. Additionally, these games need a graphics processing unit (GPU) to hasten synchronized drawing process. The GPU is responsible for graphics power, creating scenes in a clock-speed area. The GPU may either be included in the computer’s motherboard or a graphics card. Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce 7800 GTX is an example of a graphics processor. Software, such as the OS are needed by computer games to play.   An application programming interface (API) is used by computer games to communicate with the OS. For instance, Microsoft DirectX is commonly used by games played on Windows OS.  Currently, computer programmers and animators are working on creating lifelike animation for games (Richards,n.d.).  This new technology is bound to make animation rise over the barrier known as “uncanny valley” which pertains to animation looking less realistic in an attempt to become realistic (n.d.). AMD has recently released a chip which can provide lifelike animations. While the new chip would be completed by 2020, the race for creating realistic animation has begun.

            The popularity of computer games in this information age has resulted in an increase number of computer game players, specifically children and young adults.  This has questioned parents to address one important aspect: the effect of computer games on children and society. On one hand, computer games facilitate learning. They provide a powerful context for knowledge. Computer games serve as unique tool in learning by example and experience.  On the other hand, computer games may aggravate simulation.  Some young people that have committed crimes (Columbine and Virginia Tech  University come to mind) were profiled to be addicted to violent computer games. However, a recent research conducted by the University of Rochester found that computer game players are “turned off by violence” ( Australian Associated Press. 2009). The study ,which surveyed 2670 players, with age ranging from 18-39, say that the presence of violence decrease the fun factor in gaming (2009). They also found that gamers are actually more inclined to play games that would highlight their decision making, overcoming difficulties and feeling “effective” (2009).

            Computer games have come a long way.  Its development is a result of innovation. The interest in games is encouraging but at the same time alarming. In the future, computer games will use more technology and may even blur the line between simulation and reality. That is what makes it frightening.  But as long as the players, developers and game vendors know where to draw the line, computer games will remain a great tool of education.


Australian Associated Press (2009).  “Most gamers not turned on by violence.”

            Retrieved January 17, 2009, from The Australian News.


Bellis, M. (n.d.). “Computer and video game history.” Retrieved January 17, 2009, from



Crawford, C. (1997). “The Art of Computer Game Design.”  Retrieved January 17, 2009,

from  Washington State University.  Website:

Fuchs, Mathias. (n.d.) “The history of computer games.”  Retrieved January 17, 2009,

            from Creative Technology School of Art and Design. Website:


Koelsch, F. (1995). The infomedia revolution.

            Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited.

NPD Group. (2008). “ 2007 U.S video game And PC game sales exceed $18.8 Billion

            marking third consecutive year of record-breaking sales.”

Retrieved January 17, 2009, from  NPD Group. Website:

Richards, J. (n.d.). “Lifelike animation heralds new era for computer games.”

            Retrieved January 17, 2009, from Times Online.



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