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Computer Gaming

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Computer gamers play video games on a computer, as opposed to a video game console. It's an enormously popular activity.

The Entertainment Software Association estimated in a recent study that 50 percent of Americans have played video games. And 39 percent of those gamers were women.

Most people do their computer gaming at home. You can also take part in interactive computer games at local Internet cafes. Online gaming is becoming more popular.

You can do your gaming while sitting. Apart from the use of your eyes and hands, there are no special physical requirements.

Some gamers even end up working in the computer game industry. Designing games, testing games or even just selling games at a computer store are some options.

Some gamers insist that computer games are both fun and good for you.

"It enables me to express my creativity, depending on the type of game, and it is basically another world in which I can visit or flee to from time to time where anything is made possible," says Kerrie MacDonald, a computer gamer.

"It also indulges my imagination and is capable of making dreams into a type of reality. It generally gives your brain a fantastic workout."

With the quality level of computer games these days, that's no surprise. They've come a long way from the Commodore 64.

"The trend in computer gaming is moving away from traditional perceptions of games with set goals and a linear progression," says Duke Ferris. He is a computer gamer. He is also the publisher of a website that offers game reviews and product previews.

"Games now are giving users whole, fully functional worlds to play in where they can go where they want, do what they want and create their own goals and aspirations to a large extent. It's becoming less about winning and more about the joy of playing."

The media may have you thinking games have become more about violence these days. But Ferris says that's not so. "It's more interactive, interesting, creative and thoughtful than watching television, for example," he says.

"I would love to see people becoming pickier about their television choices, and play games instead of passively watching the screen. I think it's headed in that direction.

"There are games out there for everyone, and most video games are not as violent as the media portrays them. Only about 10 percent of video games released each year receive the M [mature] rating.

"Not all games involve shooting things either," continues Ferris. "Games like The Sims 2 have broad, mass market appeal. In fact, the original The Sims is the best-selling computer game of all time. There's a massive multi-player online Hello Kitty game in beta testing right now. Clearly, that's not targeted at the typical young male stereotype of game players."

Getting Started

Computer gaming does require a computer, which is more expensive than a video game console. But keep in mind it will come in handy for a lot more than video games. You can use it for schoolwork, keeping in touch with friends through e-mail and much more.

"There are very expensive top-of-the-line gaming systems from Alienware and Dell for the hard core set, but most games will run just fine on a $1,200 system," says Ferris. "Make sure you pay attention to what video card you are getting."

You will want to talk to someone at your local computer store about all the details before making such a big purchase.

"From what I know, some of the basic needs for people just getting into it include making sure that you have a sufficient amount of RAM. You can always upgrade RAM for about $100, I believe," says MacDonald.

"Also, making sure you have Internet access for those multi-player games. Other requirements are a CD-ROM, sound and video card, which already comes with the computer, but you can upgrade if you need to. Make sure you have empty hard drive space and a large enough monitor. Of course, speakers are nice too."


Game Revolution
Read game reviews and get previews of upcoming releases

This site offers news, reviews, free downloads and tons more

Game Culture
A large list of other computer gaming sites can be found here

Women Gamers
Another site proving girls play as hard as boys!

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.