Many say that the gaming industry across the globe has taken off and has a long way to go, and hopefully pretty fast. Once a niche market and considered by some as a curiosity in mid-1970s when it started first the video game industry took in about $31 billion in 2004. Contrary to a popular belief, the video game industry is not bigger than Hollywood yet. The US film industry made $44 bn in the same year. However, the video game sales in the US have exceeded the movies total box-office revenues (excluding ancillary revenues from sales of DVDs, sales to foreign distributors, cable TV, satellite TV and broadcast TV networks) each year since 1996.
The emergence of the video game industry can be traced to 1972 when Atari released the first commercially successful video game Pong an adaptation of table tennis to the video screen. It, however, was not the first electronic game; the earliest from of an electronic game being ping-pong played on an oscilloscope, dating back to 1958. The electronic gaming has come a long way since then. Today, there are multiple platforms with personal computers, internet, gaming consoles, handheld devices, mobile phones and arcade acting as a playground literally.
Games are not interchangeable between platforms so, for example, XBox games will not work in your PC. The main home video game platform companies are Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, who between them have created seven of the eight home platforms most commonly used today. The final home platform is the PC.
Personal computer games are commonly referred to as computer games or PC games. They are played on the personal computer with standard computer interface devices such as the keyboard and mouse, or additional peripherals, such as joysticks. PC games are often more detailed than console games because of early market releases of their external architecture and graphics cards. Today, most PC games require a recent version of the Windows operating system to be installed on the computer. There is, however, a continuing movement to get the most popular games to run under the Mac and Linux operating systems.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, console games have outsold computer games by roughly four times in 2003 and 2004. One possible explanation for the declining sales of personal computer games in relation to that of consoles is that a computer must meet certain minimum requirements such as CPU speed, memory, video card memory, hard drive space, operating system, internet connection speed (for online games) and other criteria. Without the proper hardware, the game may perform poorly or not run at all.
The next playground is the internet. The games played over the net are commonly referred to as Online Games. Online gaming began with PC games, but has expanded over time to include most modern consoles. It is now a key feature of modern games, with the inclusion of internet connectivity in consoles such as the PlayStation-2 and XBox, and in mobile/cellular phones. The popularity of online gaming can be estimated by looking at the number of online gamers running into millions logged on to popular gaming sites like GameHouse, Yahoo Games, MSN Games, etc.
Console games are played on a video game console, a specialised computer specifically designed to play games of a certain format. The player usually interacts with the game through a controller, and video and sound are typically delivered to the player via a television, although most modern consoles support additional outputs, such as surround sound setups. The major industry players in the segment include Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Sega.
An extension to such consoles is Handheld Game Consoles, such as the Nintendo Gameboy, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP. Handheld consoles act as their own controllers, which the player uses to interact with the game, as well as having in-built display and audio output devices. Because they are designed to be played on the go, they were small enough to carry easily in a bag or jacket.
Now, most mobile phones too have games built into them, and others are available for downloads. These games are more restricted than the usual handheld games, and play more like arcade games.
Arcade games, traditionally, are coin-operated games, played on a standalone devices. These are programmed, equipped, and decorated for a specific game, consisting of a video display, a set of controls, and the coin slot. Controls are similar to those available for many consoles.
The popularity of computer and video games, as a whole, has been rising steadily ever since the 1984-1987 drop-off caused by the video game crash of 1983, and appears to be continuing to increase. The average age of the video game player is now 30 years, belying the myth that video games are largely a diversion for teens.
Games, like most other forms of media, may be categorised into genres based on various factors. The most common genres in use today include platformers, adventure, role-playing games (RPGs), first person shooters (FPS), third person shooter (sometimes called shoot em ups), sports, racing, fighting (sometimes called beat em ups), action (although this term is abused), puzzle, simulation, and real time strategy (RTS), to name a few.
Most games are a combination of two or more genres. Although most genres have 2D counterparts, they are for the most part considered entirely different genres because of the differences in the way 2D and 3D games are played (eg Super Mario Bros and Super Mario 64). The increase in the popularity of online gaming has also resulted in new sub-genres being formed, such as the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).
The four largest markets for computer and video games are US, Japan, Canada and UK. Spain, Germany, South Korea, France, and Italy are significant markets too. China is not considered a significant market, probably as 95% of video games sold in the country are estimated to be pirated.
Today, game publishers worldwide are faced with one inescapable fact: few people will pay more than $50 for a game. But what for the gaming fans who dont want to churn out even that amount. Well, they have also been cheering up all the way since there are free games available for downloads, and to be played online.
Http://www. top100gamesites.com showcases some of the Internets hottest game sites ranked by popularity. Registered in July 2000, the site lists and provides links to a 100 game sites that offer game downloads for free.
For ease of direct navigation to the most popular games available on the listed sites, it provides separate links to such games. Gamers can rejoice as the site is clutter free and rejects all the sites other than those related to gaming. Also, in an effort to keep the gaming environment clean, it does not accept any racist, pornographic or illegal site.
In addition, it has links to:
Some of the game sites at a premium space on the screen in the form of advertisement;
Sites for the game downloads for the mobile phones and;
Sites that offer hundreds of free cliparts, animation and graphics downloads.
Another such site is http://www.top20free.com. The site offers links to free games offering sites in three categories: it lets the users play online vs the artificial intelligence; they can download full versions of games for their PC for free and play at their ease; or they can download massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) onto their PC and play along with other players online by logging onto the net. The users can also download fonts as it provides links to sites offering free fonts downloads, both for Windows as well as Mac.
The site does not limit itself to games. It has a host of other goodies available for free downloads. These include graphics, clipart, animation, photos, templates, jokes, funny videos, funny pictures, humorous SMS text, music tracks, ringtones, music videos, lyrics, e-greeting cards, e-hosting, software, shareware, desktop themes, wallpapers, screensavers, calendars, phew Whats more, it also lets you buy toys, video games and DVDs on virtually any interest area. So, just forget all that homework and all those crushing deadlines. Just get set to go on a wild ride to a virtual world the world of gaming.