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Computer Games - Interactive Movies - Players - Stakeholders
Local Censorship - Overseas Censorship - Developer Responses - Accusations

What is a computer game?

A computer game is an interactive entertainment software product played on a personal computer.  The software may be in the form of magnetic disc, cd-rom, or DVD.   Classic computer games include titles such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D.   Interactive movies are a sub-category of computer games and are sufficiently distinctive as to merit their own eBrief elsewhere on this Web site which provides additional information to what is mentioned below.

All these games have some storyline and involve a degree of strategy and regular player input in order to overcome imaginary problems and thus complete successfully.  Graphics are most often animated or cartoon-like.  Interactive movies use real human actors and often real sets and props like traditional movies.  Many of the most controversial computer games involve the player's character in frequent combat from the first-person perspective which accurately simulates the point of view of an infantry soldier.  Other such titles take a more cerebral approach and instead offer difficult puzzles and simulations of dangerous non-combat situations.  Most games allow the player's character to carry an inventory of items which may be added to or used during the course of the game to allow for successful completion.

Here is what you need to do to get a computer game to work on a typical IBM compatible computer:
* Read reviews of computer games until you find one you would like to buy.
* Locate a computer games shop that stocks the product you want. 
* Pay for the game.  Most modern games cost around $90-$100.  Such high costs are so prohibitive that purchasers are often limited to those earning wages. 
* Install the game on your computer.  Many games do not run perfectly the first time or may not run at all.  As a result, you often have to adjust various settings on your computer or even upgrade your computer's components to get it to work.  A fair degree of technical knowledge is typically required to accomplish these actions, but they far from impossible for any teenager or adult willing to take the time and effort to learn about home computing.
Additionally, many computer games now have multiplayer capability which means that players can engage in gaming cooperatively or against each other over communications networks linked to their computers such as office local area networks and the Internet.

In contrast to computer games, video games are played using a console (specially designed by any one of a number of companies) attached to a television set.  The software may be in the form of a cartridge, cd-rom, or DVD.  Video game software can only be used on the specific console system for which it was designed.  To play a video game, the gamer simply inserts the $100 or so cartridge (or cd-rom or DVD) into their console system.  No additional technical knowledge is required.  Consoles tend to cost far less than computer systems as they are dedicated gaming machines and cannot be used for other purposes.  Multiplayer games are usually only possible by attaching extra controls to the console which allow more than one player in the same room to play the video game simultaneously. 

In general, video games present more action and less storyline and strategy than computer games.  These games are often targeted at younger players compared with computer games.  Most discussions of video games are really discussions of video games and computer games, as many people do not make any distinction between these two forms of entertainment media.  As almost all electronic games related censorship controversies have revolved around computer games, this Web site mentions mostly computer games, but refers to video games - such as Custer's Revenge - where appropriate.

© Anthony Larme 2002
Comments and questions are most welcome