Computer and video games

Formally, a computer game is a game composed of a computer-controlled virtual universe that players may interact with in order to achieve a goal (or set of goals). A video game is a computer game where a video display is the primary feedback device.

However, in common usage "computer game" refers to games played on a personal computer, while "video game" (or "videogame") refers to games played on a video game console. Both "computer games" and "video games" are frequently used as umbrella terms for interactive game software. To avoid ambiguity, this game software is referred to as "computer and video games".



Game may refer to either the virtual universe and all of its governing rules ("Nethack is a game"), or a particular instance of that game ("my game ended in yet another annoying death", "game over"). Typically, a new instance of a game's universe is created by selection of a "new game" option, while previous instances and player states are retrieved with "load game" or "continue".

A game is composed of a computer-controlled virtual universe that players interact with. Player input is taken through various types of controls, and output is usually given through a screen and sound devices. Video game consoles usually utilize an input device called a controller, which contains a number of buttons and one or two analog sticks. Games played upon home computers may utilize a keyboard, mouse, or joystick (usually in some combination). The input is proccessed by the game and output is presented, usually on a television or computer monitor.


Gameplay includes all player experiences during the interaction with game systems, especially formal games. Proper use is coupled with reference to "what the player does" and how well they enjoy that experience.

Main article: Game play


Missing image
Pilotwings 64 is a flight simulator, one of the many genres of computer and video games.

Games, like most other forms of media, may be categorized into genres based on gameplay, atmosphere, and various other factors.

The atmosphere or setting of a video games can often be described as historical, urban, near-future, sci-fi, comic book, gothic, mythology, fantasy, or cartoony. Some game developers eschew traditional settings so their games stand out (e.g. Rez, Psychonauts, Katamari Damacy).

Most gamers favor certain categories of gameplay over others. These could include sports, racing, third person shooters, first person shooters (FPS), fighting, action, adventure, stealth, role-playing games (RPG), card-based, puzzle, platformers, simulation, strategy, or various combinations. Overhead and side-scrolling 2D games could also be considered of a different gameplay genre than 3D games (e.g. Super Mario Bros. vs. Super Mario 64).

Main article: Computer and video game genres

Gaming platforms

 is an example of a game that is popular as a video game as well as a computer game.
Grand Theft Auto 3 is an example of a game that is popular as a video game as well as a computer game.

Today there are many different devices that games may be played on. Personal computers, consoles, handheld systems, and arcade machines are all common. There is a thin line between games played on the computer and those on the console in terms of genre.

Many games intended for computers are now just as prevalent on consoles, both of which have many of the same selections of titles. This is due to the fact that video game consoles have drastically increased in computing power and capabilities over the last few years to the point that they can handle games that were formerly only playable with computers. With the release of Microsoft's Xbox console, which was based on PC architecture, and which was developed with online gameplay in mind, most major computer game releases coincide with the release of console versions. However, popular titles initially developed for a single platform are often "ported" to another platform. Recent examples include id's Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Windows to Xbox) and Bungie's blockbuster first person shooter, Halo (Developed for the Mac, then bought to be released for Xbox and then (re)-ported to Mac and Windows). The Entertainment Software Association reported that console games outsold computer games in the US by about 380% in 2003 (do note that this number does not represent popularity, and that fees such as those for paid MMORPGs are excluded).

Personal computer games

Personal computer games are commonly referred to as "computer games" or "PC games". They are played on the personal computer with standard computer interface devices such as the keyboard and mouse. Video feedback is received by the user through the computer screen, sound through speakers or headphones. Computer games are often more powerful than console games because of early market releases of their external architecture and graphics cards.

Today, most PC games require the Windows operating system to be installed on the computer. There is, however, a continuing movement to get the most popular games to run under the Mac and Linux operating systems.

Console games

Console games are more commonly referred to as "video games". They are played on a computer specially made for game play called a video game console. The player interacts with the game through a controller. Video and sound are delivered to the player via a television or, as with newer video game consoles, high-definition video monitors. Previous generations of personal computers, such as the Commodore 64, were commonly connected to televisions and even today share naming conventions and devices such as the Sony PlayStation 2 Computer Entertainment System, or the Sega Dreamcast's keyboard and mouse peripherals. There are also games on portable systems, such as the Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and the common cellphone which have their own, built-in video display. Computer games are more commonly played on multi-purpose operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, the Macintosh Operating System, or Linux.

Arcade games

Arcade games are coin-operated games played on a standalone device originally leased to commercial entertainment venues. These are programmed, equipped, and decorated for a specific game, consisting of a video display, a set of controls, and the coin slot. Controls range from the classic joystick and buttons, to light guns, to pads on the ground that sense pressure. Arcade games that are no longer profitable to lease can be purchased by private individuals, many of whom then explore the game dynamics by altering the programs.

Internet games

Internet games are those which require a connection to the Internet to play. Internet gaming was originally an offshoot from personal computer games but may be considered a platform in itself due to its growing scope and the inclusion of internet capabilities in modern consoles. See Internet gaming.


Main article: History of computer and video games


The current industry consensus is that the popularity of computer and video games, as a whole, has been increasing steadily ever since the dropoff of the video game crash of 1983, and that the popularity is continuing to increase. The average age of the video game player is now 29 [1] (, indicating that video games are not largely a diversion for teenagers, as many nongamers assume. Each year, the theory goes, the generation of kids familiar with arcade and console games becomes one year older (and one year larger), and with more disposable income available to the group as a whole, sales should continue to grow, presumably until the entire population has grown up with video games easily available.


The three largest markets for computer and video games are the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Other significant markets include Germany, South Korea, France, and Italy. China is not considered a significant market, probably because an estimated 95% of video games sold in the country are pirated. [2] (

Sales of different types of games vary widely between these markets due to local preferences. Japanese consumers avoid computer games and instead buy video games, with a strong preference for games created in Japan, that run on Japanese consoles. In South Korea, computer games are preferred, especially MMORPG games and real-time strategy games; there are over 20,000 PC bang internet cafes where computer games can be played for an hourly charge.

The NPD Group tracks computer and video game sales in the United States. It reported that as of 2004:

  • Console and portable software sales: $6.2 billion, up 8% from 2003 [3] (
  • Console and portable hardware and accessory sales: $3.7 billion, down 35% from 2003 [4] (
  • PC game sales: $1.1 billion, down 2% from 2003 [5] (

These figures are sales in dollars, not units; unit shipments for each category were higher than the dollar sales numbers indicate, as more software and hardware was sold at reduced prices compared to 2003.

Retail PC game sales have been declining slightly each year since about 1998, but this fact should be taken with a grain of salt: the retail sales numbers from NPD do not include sales from online downloads, nor subscription revenue for games like MMORPGs.

There is a commonly repeated, mistaken belief that video game sales now exceed the revenues of the movie industry. This is untrue; in the United States, video game sales have exceeded the movies' total box office revenue each year since about 1996, but the movie studios trounce the video game publishers when the movies' "ancillary revenue" is counted, meaning sales of DVDs, sales to foreign distributors, and sales to cable TV, satellite TV, and broadcast television networks.

The game and film industries are also becoming increasingly intertwined, with companies like Sony having significant stakes in both. A large number of summer blockbuster films spawn a companion game, often launching at the same time in order to share the marketing costs.

Computer and video games in the broader culture

Computer games are still big business in South Korea. Developers there boast MMORPGs such as Lineage and Ragnarok Online with millions of subscribers and a third of the world's MMOG revenue. StarCraft gosu (expert players) are celebrities in a game that some have dared to call the country's national sport. The success of computer and online gaming there is usually credited to South Korea's push for broadband Internet connections in the home and earlier bans on Japanese products (these restrictions were removed by the late 1990s).

Several websites and publications devoted solely to games have been created, including Nintendo Power, GamePro, Official Playstation Magazine, GameSpot, GameSpy, and IGN.

Video gaming seems to be becoming a bigger part of popular culture. Many T-shirts are available that directly reference video games, such as one with a picture of an NES controller with the text 'Know Your Roots.' Also, video games have also become a major part in cross marketing platforms, such as in Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh, where a child can watch the television show, buy the trading cards, and play the various video games available.

Video game properties have had mixed success when migrating to the movies. One of the first films based on a video game property was The Wizard, which some criticized as a 90-minute ad for Super Mario Brothers 3. In the mid-90s, films for Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, Wing Commander and Mortal Kombat were released. Reviews have generally been poor.

Despite the ultimately poor performance of these movies, many studios still want to turn big games into movies, hoping that the popularity of the game will help the movie. However, after the initial bunch, many projects materialized that were never finished, but the success of films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has led to more films materializing. Doom, a game which film makers were trying to cross over since the mid 90s is finally going into production. John Woo is also producing a movie on the popular Nintendo game, Metroid.

However, there is still debate in the movie industry on whether video games can be turned into good, profitable movies. Films like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which has received mixed responses from audiences, with some saying it is a great movie, and others saying it is a very bad movie with excellent computer-generated imagery, but ultimately flopped in the box office, and Uwe Boll's House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, which both ended up being horrible flops both in fan reactions and box office success and both ending up on the IMDB's bottom 100 movies, do not, in turn, give much confidence in whether these movies will be handled seriously.

On the other hand, video games get much more success when adapted into cartoons/animes. Some notables examples of major success includes the various Mario Bros. cartoons, Sonic SatAM, Captain N: The Game Master and Earthworm Jim while Sonic Underground, the American Mega Man cartoon and 4Kids' dubs (although this isn't limited to their video game-based dubs) are cited as being poor. Sometime, they even "help" more obscure/Japan-only games pick up popularity in America although rarely; To Heart would be the best example of such thing.

Movies have had far more success moving the other direction, onto video games. Most summer blockbuster films now have a simultaneous video game release; some of the most lucrative video games of recent times are based on movies, such as Electronic Arts' Lord of the Rings series of games, and Activision's two Spider-Man movie games.

Even though movies have had more success in game convertion, not all movie games are good. Some developers believe that the success of the movie will help the game sell, so may not try hard to make a compelling game. Some examples of this are the Catwoman and King Arthur movie games.

Also, video games have found themselves on MTV2, in a popular show called Video Mod, where characters from popular video games perform songs from hit artists, such as characters from The Sims 2 performing the song "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains Of Wayne.

On the Internet, gaming has also become a popular subject of many webcomics. Currently there are two varieties. The first one is the Sprite Comic, such as 8 Bit Theatre, in which the artist uses sprites from a video game to tell stories. Sometimes these are original stories, but are often parodies of the game in which the sprite came from. The other is a more traditional comic strip, containing original art, like Penny Arcade. Here, the storylines or jokes revolve around current events in video gaming. The success of Penny Arcade has attracted many people in the industry, including Ubi Soft. Other parodies have come in the form of amateur videos, such as those of Mega 64.

In Germany, the TV channel NBC Europe broadcasts a show called GIGA, which turned more and more into a video and computer game show. In the show, new games are presented and reviewed. Lately, the show featured the esports scene a lot, by introducing professional players to the audience and broadcasting live competition matches.


Main article: Game development

Video games are made by developers, who can be individuals, but are almost always a team consisting of designers, graphic designers and other artists, programmers, sound designers, musicians, and other technicians. Most video game console development teams number anywhere from 20 to 50 people, with some teams exceeding 100. The average team size as well as the average development time of a game have grown along with the size of the industry and the technology involved in creating games. This has led to regular occurrences of missed deadlines and unfinished products, such as Duke Nukem Forever. See also: video game industry practices.

Game modifications

Main article: Mod (computer gaming)

Games running on a PC are often designed with end-user modifications in mind, and this consequently allows modern computer games to be modified by gamers without much difficulty. These mods can add an extra dimension of replayability and interest. The Internet provided an inexpensive medium to promote and distribute mods, and they became an increasingly important factor in the commercial success of some games. Developers such as id, Valve, and Epic provide extensive tools and documentation to assist mod makers, leveraging the potential success brought in by a popular mod like Counter-Strike.

Recently, computer games have also been used as a digital-art medium. See artistic computer game modification.


Gamers use several umbrella terms for console, PC, arcade, handheld, and similar games since they do not agree on the best name. For many, either "computer game" or "video game" describes these games as a whole. Other commonly used terms include "entertainment software", "electronic game", "software game", and "videogame" (as one word).

Computer and video games may be considered a subset of interactive media, which includes virtual reality, flight and engineering simulation, multimedia and the World Wide Web.

See also


External links

  • GameSpot ( gaming reviews, news, downloads, and forums
  • GameRankings ( a site with game rankings based on the average mark from indexed reviews
  • Universal Videogame List ( a comprehensive video game database
  • MobyGames ( a comprehensive computer and video game database

More external links may be found through the list of video game websitescs:Počtačov hra da:Computerspil de:Computerspiel eo:Komputilludo es:Videojuego fa:بازی‌های رایانه‌ای fi:Tietokonepeli fr:Jeu vido he:משחק מחשב ja:コンピューターゲーム lt:Kompiuterinis žaidimas nl:computerspel no:Dataspill pl:Gry komputerowe ru:Компьютерная игра sv:Datorspel th:Category:เกมคอมพิวเตอร์และวิดีโอเกม tr:Bilgisayar Oyunları zh:电脑游戏


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools