The Future of Gaming in the Next 5 to 10 Years

Gaming is about to embark on a fundamental change in the next 5 to 10 years. Revolutions are occurring in computer hardware impacting visual technology, game controllers and sensory feedback. Add to that revolutionary software will change the whole concept of what we consider games to entice participation from all demographics. All this will be impacted by incredibly higher processor speeds that will fundamentally change the way computer games are played.

Revolutions are coming in visual technology. 3D technology has hit the movie screens big time, generating an added realism to movies. It won’t be long before that technology is transferred to the video game industry. Imagine the 3d realism of gunshots coming at you or a football heading your way in a 3d football game. The hardware in primitive form is already available as specialized headsets from Display Systems. Even more amazing, a company called Ethereal is working on a 3d hologram projector that will make the holo-decks of Star Trek and X-men a reality. It won’t be long before games are written to take advantage of the new technology as movies are today.

Revolutions are coming in the sensory feedback we receive from games. Currently, almost all of the feedback we get from games are visual and audio. We get a little touch feedback from game controllers that shake in our hands to simulate hits. Well hold onto your hats. Soon to hit the market are vests that simulate being punched or shot to add realism. These are called Force feedback devices and they are already available from a company called Tngames.

Next to be developed will probably be full body force feedback suits. Imagine playing a zombie game and feeling the pressure of a simulated bite on your leg from the undead. There are also companies working on smell machines that will generate a scent based on the computer program. There is already a patent out for a computer scent dispenser that can connect to the Wii. It won’t be long before the smell of gunpowder is added to war games like Medal of Honor giving it a new sense of realism. In the not to distant future, games will be able to manipulate our senses merely by beaming signals directly into our brains.

Game controllers have not change much in years until recently. Most game consoles are controlled by single or multiple joysticks with tons of buttons. The Nintendo Company made the first revolution in controllers when it introduced the Wii and the first motion sensor controllers. Instead of controllers, games will be controlled by our brain waves. Microsoft is not far behind with it’s version of motion sensor controls. However, these controls are primitive to what’s coming down the pipe. Already, there have been successful experiments with humans moving a cursor across a computer screen with their thoughts. The first headset is already available for sale at a company called emotive. It won’t be long before the old joystick is a thing of the past.

All these revolutions would not make a difference if the new influx of data cannot be processed quickly enough to give the user real time execution. That’s where the biggest revolution is coming in processor speeds. For years chip makers have hit a wall in how small they can shrink the computer chip. There is a limit to the size of the wiring in the chips that carry electrons from transistor to transistor. To overcome that limitation scientist have been able to design chips that use light waves instead of electrons. This will enable them in five to 10 years to make chips with incredible processing speed. Some scientists think that in 20 years the super fast chips could make computers that can think like humans. Imagine games that learn enough about us to keep us perpetually engaged as we learn how to master the game.

Games will take on the roles of life. Like the movies the the Matrix, games will involve interacting with other people with avatars ( digital representations of us) in virtual worlds. It will be like Facebook, merged with World or Warcraft, but add in voice, touch and smell. Games like spore are already at the forefront of this revolution. We will be able to produce ideal versions of ourselves and engage in virtual risky activities while our physical bodies remain safe.

The gaming industry is poised to take a revolutionary step forward that will impact every demographic on the planet. The new technology will increase the use of video game hardware and software in everyday life. I can already see the effects on how we learn. Understanding how to make video games will put a person in charge of their economic future in the years to come.

Build a Gaming PC – An Introduction to Building Your Own Gaming Computer

In this article I want to outline my interest in building gaming computers, how to build a gaming PC, and the approaches and mindsets that I take.

What is the roadblock for most people when it comes to building a computer? You either have no knowledge of how the components come together, or if you do have some knowledge of how the components come together you may be worried about having problems that you are unable to solve. After all, if you buy a computer from a reputable dealer, you are likely to get some service with it – so doesn’t that make it worth it? Maybe with a Mac, where you can be assured of a certain level of quality – but then your will be paying a boatload for a system that isn’t necessarily optimized for gaming.

This isn’t going to be a Mac vs PC debate. Macs are known for being tremendously reliable, well built and long lasting. PCs are often known for being cheaply built and often unreliable. So when someone thinks about building their own computer, naturally they will think of the cheaply built, often unreliable PCs built by assembly companies.

Here is where you can get the best out of both worlds. Macs are supremely reliable and stable because they are all made by the same entity – and the parts chosen and made for the macs are assured to be of the highest quality. PC assemblers aren’t necessarily going to chose the best parts, as they are trying to sell their computers and make money (though, it does behoove them to make quality systems, they only have to be better than the next guy in order to be successful). When you build your own system, you can chose the highest quality parts, that are proven to work well together, which will last long and be tremendously stable – all for 1/3-1/4 the cost of a mac. Mac reliability at (often) sub-PC cost.

OK, so we know that we can build a super reliable fast computer at low cost, but what happens if there is a problem? If I go with a PC assembler, they will provide me service (even if its for 1 year). Here is the beauty of it – while there are a lot of options out there, there are manufacturers which produce extremely reliable parts – the parts themselves typically have very long warranties (5+ years), so if you have an issue, all you need to do is narrow the problem down to the part, get it replaced, and you are back to business. That being said, if you do go with those well reviewed and used manufacturers, you are quite unlikely to run into any type of issue at all.

Lets say you don’t know a circuit board from a corn chip – that’s ok, the entire system is a lot simpler than it looks.

Here are the components that make up your typical PC:

The components are the motherboard, the CPU, the ram, the hard drive, the video card, the sound card and a few other misc pieces (internal additions including dvd drives, other input devices etc).

Thats it. The main core being the motherboard CPU and ram – these are the core because you can start up a system with just these pieces (most motherboards have some sort of built in video display). You wouldn’t be able to run any software with just that, but the system can turn on and ‘Post’ (where the core system acknowledges that core components are there and operational).

To take a step back from the techie talk – lets look at the whole computer system in an entirely different point of view. The motherboard is like the central nervous system. The CPU is like the brain. The ram is like the short term memory and the hard drive the long term memory. The Video Card is like having a second brain to process all of your visual components. The sound card is also like having another brain to process your hearing. There is also a very important element called the BIOS which is effectively the ‘primitive’ brain of the system. It controls all the basic elements – it allows the system to breath and pump blood. The BIOS initializes the startup of the system – and it exists on the motherboard.

The motherboard forms the base that all the other components plug into. Aside from that, it is basically like constructing a puzzle – a very simple 10 piece puzzle where all the pieces fit uniquely. Plug in the central processor, plug in the video card, plug in the ram, connect the hard drive, connect the power supply – all done!

Once you have a basic understanding of how and why the pieces fit together, the next main concern is quality – by putting together yourself are you in fact going to sabotage the quality of your system? If you choose well reviewed hardware that is proven to work together – and you choose the hardware from reputable manufacturers who not only are known for outstanding quality but also known for their service (IE. if there is a problem, then it is easy to resolve via the warranty) – then you will be creating a system out of the top components available to ANYONE (including those whom you would buy a pre-made PC from). The dirty secret of PC assemblers is that they often have proprietary hardware created which isn’t as well used, reviewed and analyzed as the standard available components. It is cheaper for the PC companies, but in the end you are more likely to run into issues. Plus if you can chose each component from everything that is available, you will be able to make a truly unique computer, tailored to your specific needs and desires.

So the ticket is to pick well reviewed, trusted hardware – and then realize that it all fits together quite easily. If something isn’t working properly, the manufacturers are there to help (if you chose wisely). In the end, you will be rewarded with a powerful high end computer system that will last for years (as well as the enjoyment of having created it yourself).

Do You Need a High-End Video Card to Watch Movies and Edit Pictures?

There is a certain stigma against integrated graphics and low-end video cards. Computer businesses will always try to win consumers over with the fastest computer hardware and the latest computer components. Consequently, many computer users are misled to believe that they need a high-end video card to do common tasks such as watching movies and performing slight photo touch-ups.

The truth is, today’s low-budget video cards are powerful enough to run your DVDs and movie files. They can also capably allow you to resize, recolor and revamp your digital photos.

The only reason to purchase a high-end video card is if you use intensive and resource-draining multimedia programs and applications. Web designers and graphic artists will need high-performance computer hardware and software to tweak their interactive designs.

A high-end graphics card is also a must if you want to play the latest PC games. Some games have minimum system requirements in order to run. Low-end graphics cards will not be able to load the latest games. Mainstream video cards may be able to do load these games but the player would suffer choppy frame rates, low response times and game lags. A more powerful video card can enhance gaming experience by enabling full display settings.

Some multimedia professionals, gamers and PC hobbyists will not even be satisfied with one video card. They would hook two to four video cards together — now made possible with new technology by Nvidia and ATI — and end up with an extremely powerful machine that displays highly detailed graphics and incredibly smooth, fluid animations. Of course, the average computer user has no need of these graphical effects.

So assess your computing needs before you buy the latest nVidia or ATI video cards. If you simply use your computer to do a little take home work from the office, a unit with mainstream computer components and integrated graphics can easily do the job for you.