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Computer Games


Disciplines > Game Design > Types of Game > Computer Games

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Computer games are those in which a computer is used to

Tasks that the computer can perform during a game include:

  • Explaining the rules of play.
  • Ensuring all players comply with the rules.
  • Keeping data about the game, including scores.
  • Generating the virtual environment of the game which obeys the rules (such as the laws of physics, magic, etc.).
  • Providing a graphical window onto the field of play.
  • Providing a user interface to let players interact with the game.
  • Responding in natural ways to player requests and actions.
  • Running non-player characters who interact with the players.
  • Customizing the difficulty of the game to engage players, preventing them from either becoming bored or feeling overwhelmed and outclassed.


Computers are ideally suited to simulation and God games where complex contexts and laws of physical have to be obeyed.

Flying games, including straight flight simulators and space games enable the player to get a feeling for flying aircraft (or even flying the body without machines).


One of the earliest computer games was 'moon lander' where the player simply enters a number each turn for the burn rate. The goal is a soft landing of the space ship on the moon.  An early popular computer video game was 'pong', a simple tennis simulation. Space Invaders seemed a huge leap after this. These were played on consoles and arcade machines and only later migrated to personal computers. 

Computer games are of course big business now and have been for many years, with various types of game running on personal computers of all types.

Computers can simulate traditional games, such as chess, and can create whole genres of games that could not be otherwise played. The strengths of computers include their ability to perform high-speed calculation, the powerful graphical interface and the huge flexibility in being able to run many different games with the same physical equipment, thereby reducing the effective cost per game.

While computers can simulate intelligence, they are not of course sentient or have true intelligence in a human sense. Their real strength is in speed of calculation and being able to access a huge 'memory' data base with 'perfect recall'. As computers develop, they will continue to appear more human and can already interact with players in very natural ways.

The ease of distribution and loading of new games has helped create a massive global business where millions of people can play a game immediately after its release. This massive customer base in turn provides reason for huge investment to create highly sophisticated games.

Many computer games, such as shooting and other violent games, have been aimed at a young male market. With the broadening of computer game types and easier interfaces, a wider market is being reached, although the core audience for many games providers remains largely male.

While many people play only computer games, others react against this and stick to traditional games where they prefer the physical, visceral reality, even if it is just picking up and moving a chess piece.

See also



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