A computer game, also known as a personal computer (PC) game, refers to a video game that is played on personal computers instead of arcade machines or dedicated video game console. The defining features of a computer game include a more diverse gaming software and hardware as well as greater input, video output, and processing capacity. A computer game is frequently used interchangeably with video games. A video game can be described as anything that allows interaction through the manipulation of computer-generated images that are displayed on a screen.
The two essentially refer to the same form of entertainment. However, while computer games are only played on computers, video games can also be played on gaming consoles or arcade machines. The popularity of computer games rose in the 1980s following the crash of video games. However, in the 1990s console games gained traction leading to a loss of market for computer games. Digital distribution in the 2000s led to the resurgence of computer games (Stuart).
Today, computer gaming is among the fastest growing and the most popular segment in the entertainment industry (Dillon). The PC gaming sector constitutes the bulk of the industry. In 2016, an estimated 2.2 billion gamers generated an estimated revenue of US4101.1 billion. Mobile gaming was the most lucrative segment in the sector recording a 19% growth in the year to hit $46.1 billion which is approximately 42% of the market. The mobile gaming segment is estimated to represent more than half of the games market by the year 2020 (Wijman). PC gaming is largely associated with the IBM personal computer compatible systems. Smartphones and tablets running on both Android and iOS are also considered personal computers. History of Computer Games Built-in 1950 by Josef Kates, Bertie the Brain was among the earliest game playing machines to be developed. It measured over four meters tall. It was displayed at the Canadian National Exhibition for weeks and visitors were able to challenge its artificial intelligence in varying levels of difficulty. Despite its simplicity, according to modern standards, it marked the start of a long and tedious journey that has led the industry to the point that it is in today (PLARIUM). The development of microcomputers and microprocessors made personal computers popular. However, computer gaming had existed before this era on minicomputers and mainframes. The first generation of computer games has been usually interactive fiction or text-based adventures. By entering commands through a keyboard, the players were able to communicate with the computer (Spring 218). Personal computers were powerful enough to run more sophisticated games such as Adventure by the 1980s. The graphics were also increasingly becoming an important part of the game. In later games such as the Pool of Radiance, textual commands were combined with basic graphics. During this period, the development and distribution of games were done through gaming magazines and lobbyist groups such as the Computer Gaming World. Such publications offered the players game codes that could be entered into computers. Gaming companies capitalized on the success of arcade games and several games were developed in this period. However, as the field grew, the market became flooded with low-quality games, mostly created by companies struggling to get into the market. This, coupled with the increase in the use of personal computers for academic purposes led to a decline of consumer interest in console games as well as an increase in the popularity of PC games. The growth was further favored by the development of cheap color computers. These computers also featured extras like peril-sensitive sunglasses. The industry grew in the following years, and computer games became more popular among the consumers as the growing technology made the experience better. More sophisticated graphics were employed, and audio was incorporated into the games. The success of 3D games such as Super Mario increased the interest in 3D graphics. This new technology knocked the proprietary interfaces off the market and was accepted more by the consumers. Improvements in CPU technology led to higher levels of realism in computer games. Importance of Computer Games Several benefits have been associated with computer games. Though most people play computer games for fun, it offers much more than entertainment (Muriel and Crawford). Most computer games consist of consistent failures before one reaches the goal. Though most players might not see it from this perspective, the struggle to reach the goal despite the many failures teaches one persistence and grit. Computer games have also been shown to increase players’ problem-solving skills. Playing computer games for three 20-minute sessions every week has been shown to stimulate the mind. Video games also help one keep the mind active and sharpens their visual capabilities. It also improves memory and the ability to multitask (Anderson). Computer games are also widely used in both informal and formal education. The use of computer games in education gained prominence in the early 2000s. Today, various computer games are increasingly being used for academic purposes. Moreover, computer games have been shown to lead to improvements in people with language and learning disabilities (Sochocka, Bednarska and Grabska-Gradzinska 200). Societal Perceptions Regarding Computer Games Despite the discussed benefits of computer games, they have been a source of controversy for a long time. The association of most computer games with violence has often been the root cause of this controversy (Kneer, Elson and Knapp 145). It has led to the emergence of debates surrounding the influence of the games on the development of minors. Some studies by the American Psychological Association have associated computer game violence with the increase in aggression among children (American Psychological Association). In response to such accusations, various industry groups have insisted that it is the role of the parents to govern the activities of their children. Various attempts by the US government to regulate the sale of objectionable games have always been found to be unconstitutional (Bangeman). Computer games have also been blamed for causing addiction. This cultural aspect of computer gaming has been associated with various effects on health and social relations hence drawing much criticism. The world of computer gaming affects different groups in the population differently. Therefore, to understand the perception of society regarding computer games, this paper will explore the perceptions of each of these groups. These groups/stakeholders include children, parents, educators, game developers, and the government.Children Children generally like video games. Video games are fun and challenging. Traditionally, computer games have been associated with children. For instance, in the early years, games such as the Nintendo systems were mostly sold in toy stores. As a result of this, video games came to be associated with children. The culture got entrenched in society with time. Today, most children prefer computer games over outdoor games or exercise. Computer games have become the new standard for a happy childhood. Talks in schools and neighborhoods are mostly about the new games in the industry. Due to the peer pressure associated with this age group, computer gaming has become a necessity (Wu, Ko and Wong 50). Therefore, children find nothing wrong with playing video games. All they want is to have fun, and computer games provide exactly that. ParentsThe view of the parents regarding computer games contradicts that of the children. Most parents worry that computer games might have negative effects on their children (Gong and Piller 790). The excuse frequently given for this fear is that violence depicted in the computer can cause aggressive behavior in their children. Computer games have also been blamed for causing abnormal social relations in the children. The parents also worry that spending too much time playing computer games can affect the children’s health since the practice drastically reduces the time spent playing outdoors. This has been linked to the increasing cases of childhood obesity in the country (Kenney and Gortmaker 145). The fact that computer games have also been associated with addiction is a major cause of concern among this group of stakeholders (Frolich, Lehmkuhl and Orawa 12). Computer games often make children abscond their other duties such as homework and other household chores. For these reasons, most parents are opposed to computer games. EducatorsAs discussed earlier, computer games have been used as an educational tool for years. Educators argue that playing computer games is an integral part of the social and mental development of learners (Freitas 80). Studies have revealed that computer games are more engaging as compared to the traditional classroom models of learning. Moreover, rather than providing information over a long class period like the traditional models, computer games offer little amounts of information at the right stages. The use of computer games in education has also been associated with enhanced metacognitive skills which help the learners learn about their strengths and weaknesses as well as enhance their performance. Computer games also help the students learn from their mistakes, provides instant feedback, and helps them create manageable goals. Therefore, educators support the use of computer games in learning.PsychologistsPsychologists argue that there exist both positive and negative effects of computer games. On the positive side, computer games help children improve their mental capabilities and also enhances teamwork and cooperation. This is mostly because most modern-day games are designed to incorporate multiple players. Psychologists have established that children who regularly play computer games that require them to solve puzzles score better grades in science, maths and reading tests (Blades, Blumberg and Oates 108). However, psychologists warn that the benefits depend on the type of computer game that one engages in. A relationship between computer games bearing heavy, violent content and aggressive behavior has been established. However, studies seeking to establish the relationship between violent content and aggression have faced the challenge of measuring aggression as well as video game exposure. Controlling other variables that might influence aggression has also been a challenge (Gunter). Psychologists also warn that children should not spend too much time playing computer games (Orlando). Therefore, to harness the full benefits of computer games, parents must regulate the content of video games and the time spent playing the games. The GovernmentThe government has severally overlapped with the computer gaming industry over the years. In February 2018, President Trump accused mature content in computer games as a potential cause of the youth violence witnessed in the country time after time. The government has also voiced the need for a government-run rating system to regulate the content of computer games. Some legislators have also sought to increase the tax on computer games with a rating above M. However, these efforts by the government to tame the gaming industry have always failed for being unconstitutional. In 2011, the Supreme Court abolished a law in the state of California that banned the sale of violent games to minors on the grounds of the first amendment. The decision established a national precedent (Pearce). Works Cited
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