What is a Gaming Computer?
A gaming computer is a personal computer constructed specifically to process the enormous amounts of data required when playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and online first-person shooter games. As MMORPGs and other computer-based games have evolved, the fast-paced, detailed graphics they include have come to require more memory and more possessing speed to run. The computer usually comes with a high-end graphics card, and the fastest central processing units (CPUs) commercially available. The faster the graphics card and CPU, the less lag time there is between the gamer's input and the time his action is transferred to the character or weapon on the screen. Split seconds can make the difference between winning and losing in these intense, high-tech games.
Normally, gaming computers contain much more random access memory (RAM) than is necessary for most other home applications. The more RAM a computer has, the more quickly the CPU can access frequently used information that is held in storage, a critical component for successful gaming. This type of computer is typically equipped with multiple universal serial bus (USB) ports to attach peripherals such as game controllers, steering wheels, joysticks, and even aircraft yokes. These ports are usually located on the front of the computer to permit quick and easy access for peripheral equipment changes.
Crisp, sharp video and clear audio are both crucial elements in gaming, and gaming computers are usually at the top of the heap when it comes to graphics and sound cards. Technology has exploded in recent years, with gaming graphics becoming more and more lifelike, and real-time imaging systems require state-of-the art graphics cards in order for the serious gamer to be competitive. Whether it is a portable laptop model or a stationary desktop unit, a computer used for gaming will ordinarily have a larger, better quality monitor screen than a standard machine. Quality stereo speakers are also a must for gamers.
Peripheral devices have also become highly specialized, including simple input devices that are usually taken for granted, such as the keyboard. Many gamers prefer to play their computer games in low room light or even in complete darkness. This habit heralded the creation and increasing popularity of the back-lit gaming keyboard. The keyboard made specifically for gaming also has "hot keys" designed to consolidate the complex commands that are frequently used into single keystrokes. The back-lit, gaming keyboard — which in most models emits a soft blue light to highlight the keys in the dark — was designed to make the gamer more efficient and to sharpen his reflexes.
Due to the many options and the large number of computer manufacturers catering to the gaming crowd, gaming computers are available in an extremely broad price range.
I think it is amazing how the gaming culture has changed over the past several years. Until the late 80s and early 90s, playing video games was seen as something that was kind of nerdy. Even once in-home gaming got more popular, it was still kind of a niche market. Now, though, playing video games has become the cool thing to do.
There are tons of games available that appeal to a wide range of players. Since people can play with each other online, now, that has only increased the utility of games.
I think that interconnectivity between people on computers is one of the reasons why gaming has become so popular recently. For that, I can understand why people would invest in custom gaming computers.
I believe that for some games the players' computers actually act as a type of server for the game. In that case, you may have data from dozens of computers flowing into your machine. In that case, a cheap gaming computer would get bogged down pretty quickly.
I think building the best gaming computer is just part of the hobby for some people, though. It is along the same lines as people putting huge stereo systems in their cars or having the best landscaping on the block. In the end, these things probably won't do a whole lot more than the basic computer will, but they can show them off to their friends and have people envy them.
@Emilski - I agree. I have a friend who enters a lot of computer gaming tournaments, and he has spent a lot of money building his computer. I guess a lot of the expense comes from the fact that they need to keep buying the latest and greatest parts each year, so that others don't get ahead of them.
I think a lot of it also just depends on the game and what they are doing with it. I don't know exactly how World of Warcraft works, but from what I understand, you are basically running around in a world doing missions and waging wars. It doesn't seem like there are a lot of split second decisions that need to be made. In that case, I am guessing that players can get buy with a decent computer for gaming, but they don't need something amazing.
For some of the fighting games, though, the speed of your processor and the amount of RAM your computer has can be the difference between winning and losing. Some of those contests are worth several thousand dollars to the winner, so it's important not to be let down by your equipment.
Paying 10,000 dollars for a computer just to play video games sounds ridiculous to me. You can play most of the same games on video game consoles, and they only cost a few hundred dollars at most plus the cost of the games.
What is so special about those computers that makes them cost so much? I have a friend who plays some computer games online. He has a pretty good computer, and it didn't cost nearly that much. From what I can tell, his games all seem to run just fine. It seems to me like even if you were a professional gamer, you would eventually hit a threshold where no matter what else you added to the computer, it wouldn't get any faster. Not everyone needs the ultimate gaming computer.
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