What Is Computer Gaming?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Computer gaming is a type of video game playing that is played on a personal computer, rather than a dedicated video game console. Computer gaming has shifted in popularity over the years, as prices and performance fluctuated between consoles and personal computers. In the modern day, it has largely settled into its own, with a number of games lending themselves exclusively to computers, while other types of games are better suited for consoles.

Early gaming largely revolved around text adventures, as this was one area where they could differentiate themselves immediately from arcade games. Although there were early graphical computer games, such as Spacewar!, which was perhaps the first computer game ever, many of the most popular were simple text inputs. The original, and perhaps most famous, of these was the Adventure game, and later games built off of its success. Eventually graphics were added to the idea of text gaming, with text remaining as a command input, even while simple graphics helped to build the scene.

In the early 1980s, gaming saw a boom in popularity, as the bottom fell out of the console video game market. A glut of bad games for consoles, combined with lower prices for home computers, made gaming an obvious choice for many people. When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, this boom slowed somewhat, although it continued for many more years in Europe.


With the addition of the mouse as an input device to computers, graphical gaming began to make much more sense. Graphical adventure games, such as the popular King’s Quest series, made use of the mouse to allow a player to interact with a static image environment. At the same time, a new genre, the first-person shooter, began to emerge. One of the first of these, Wolfenstein 3D, was released by id Software in 1992, and helped to popularize the idea of first person shooters.

The next year, making use of the steadily increasing processing power of computers, id Software released Doom, a revolutionary first person shooter game that was one of the most popular games of the era. The industry would remain relatively stable until 1996, when further innovations in video card technology allowed for even more ornate and stunning games, with Tomb Raider being an early third person shooter to take advantage of the processing power of computers of the era.

About the turn of the millennium, computer gaming exploded into being an even larger market than it had traditionally been, becoming one of the mainstream uses of computers in most homes. Games got even more complex, as technology advanced even further and as game developers began to experiment with new methods of interaction that differentiated the computer platform from the console. Games like Warcraft and Starcraft, Command and Conquer, Black & White, and The Sims are all examples of this type of game.

The origination of graphical massive online role-playing games was the next huge leap in computer gaming. Similar in concept to text-based MUDs which had existed since the early days of the internet, these massive games took full advantage of the ubiquity of high-speed internet and powerful computers. Allowing thousands to hundreds of thousands of players to interact in a virtual world, they have become an enormous market share of the video game market, and a social phenomenon unto themselves.


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Post 4

@umbra21 - I played those games as well, but it still blew my mind the first time my dad brought home a console and we were able to play things like Final Fantasy 7 and Tekkin'.

A cheap gaming computer really can't give you the full experience if you want to play modern games because they throw so much information into them and make the graphics so memory hungry that you simply couldn't get the game to load.

The only way to play most modern games is to either have a good gaming computer or to get a console and it's actually cheaper to get a console, particularly if you get one that isn't the latest generation.

The best gaming computer might be able to beat a console but you'll be paying six times as much in order to play it.

Post 3

@Ana1234 - I don't know, I've never really gotten into the major titles so I didn't even notice the boom and bust of computer gaming. We just had a cheap gaming and work system when I was growing up but I could still play things like Commander Keen and Space Quest and other classics like that on them. The cool thing about computers is that it's not that difficult to design games for them, so we got that period where a lot of games were freeware or shareware which was great.

I guess those might have been the beginning of the end though, because I actually can't remember what I played as a teenager after that. I was more of a book reader anyway.

Post 2

I have to admit I'm really glad that computers became popular for gaming again, because I don't know if I'd ever shell out the money for a dedicated gaming console. I really like playing the occasional game, but not enough to go that far, especially since I don't have a TV.

My options would be fairly limited though if computers hadn't become popular mediums for games again. For a while the only thing that people really played on the computer were card games and maybe mah-jong if they were particularly bored.

Now almost every major game comes out on PC as well as consoles and in some cases you can only get them on PC. There are a lot of casual games to pick from as well.

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