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Extraordinary world of computer gaming

By Jean-Claude Elias - Aug 30,2018 - Last updated at Aug 30,2018

Two events, that are completely separate but that share a common trait yet, came just a few days ago as a reminder of the strong and global impact of computer and video games.

The first is the Gamescom giant gaming trade fair that takes place in Cologne, Germany, and the second is the tragic shooting at the video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida in the USA.

The first, also called “The Heart of Gaming”, is a confirmation and a rather positive illustration of the importance of the subject, whereas the second is a sad, dramatic example of what extreme addiction — of any kind — can lead to.

Gamescom first edition was in 2009. It is the world’s largest gaming event. The tournament in Jacksonville may have been about “good and fair sportsmanship”, but it was enough to have one player gone mad to see the event end up in a tragedy.

The fact is that the world of computer or video gaming is a strange one. There is a large gap between those who have little to do with it, who hardly play any such game, and those who are addicted to it. As far as numbers are concerned, the latter group luckily remains a minority, although the phenomenon is widely publicised in the media.

The extraordinary technical progress accomplished by the industry in the last ten years or so in terms of machines processing speed, advanced 3D graphics, fast frame rate, very responsive controls, augmented reality, and virtual reality, it has all made gaming more exciting, closer to reality, if not exceeding it, and consequently more addictive in some cases. Fast Internet connectivity that allows more realistic and thrilling online challenges between remote players has significantly increased the risk of addiction. With virtually no time lag at all when connected to the network, players now find it more interesting than ever to play online.

Those who do not play computer games have no idea of the degree of realism software and hardware have reached, of the intensity of attraction they have, especially on the young. Just try Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro for one hour or two, to name only this one example of platform, and you will understand and realise the fascination that gaming exerts. Add to that the online factor where players challenge each other from a distance, and the amounts that are involved in games played for money (not a minor point…), and you will have an idea of the far reaching extent of the phenomenon.

Another illustration of the importance of the subject is the laptop computers models that are manufactured with very high technical specifications. To show the power of these machines, to impress buyers, their makers call them gaming laptops — it is self-explanatory.

Of course, you do not have necessarily to play computer games if you buy such beautiful computers, but the qualifier says it all: sheer power in terms of speed, advanced 3D visuals, and 4K ultra high-resolution graphics. Dells’ Alienware series is such a fine example of high-end computers.

The importance of the whole concept is such that Alienware is a trade name by itself, owned by Dell. It is in a way the luxury brand of the company, like Lexus is for Toyota or Infiniti for Nissan, in the automotive world. Prices are a match for the performance and usually start at $1,500 for basic units, reaching two or even three fold this amount for the most expensive top-of-the-line models.

Regardless of the risk of addiction, computer and video gaming remains a fascinating aspect of computer and audio-visual technology and of the entertainment world. It is in a way a by-product of the bigger driving and flight simulators, and of training simulators of all kinds in general, and that are put to good use every day in countless fields.

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