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Computer Games: Modern Entertainment

A young MIT computer programmer, Steve Russell, created the first computer game in 1962: "Spacewar," The game featured warring spaceships firing at each other, allowing two players to play at once. From these humble beginnings came a revolution in popular entertainment. The rapid advancement of home computers in the 1970s and 1980s gave rise to the simplest computer games. The 1990s saw increased processing speeds, increased storage space, graphics, sound cards, and the flourishing of the Internet, all of which led to increasingly sophisticated, involving computer games.

First-person Shooters

First-person shooter games developed in the 1990s, chief amongst them, Doom, released in 1993. Doom set itself apart from others with its 3D graphics. In many ways, it began to define the genre. First-person shooters are generally games that give the player full control over a character that interacts with the world of the game, usually by shooting various weapons. First-person shooters were some of the earliest to make use of the more advanced, higher-resolution 3D rendering offered by the Voodoo chipset when it was released in 1996. Games like Quake became one of the forces behind 3D technological advances.

Real-time Strategy Games

The first real-time strategy game was 1983's Stonkers, released for the ZX Spectrum home computer prevalent in Europe. Dune II, released in 1992, was very influential in the genre. It set the standard for following games, blockbusters like Warcraft and Command and Conquer. These games include an overhead view, a miniature map, and full control of an army's economic and military aspects.

"Sim" Games

Maxis began publishing its "Sim" games in the 1990s SimCity, SimEarth, SimCity 2000, SimAnt, and so on. It published The Sims in 2000, a strategic daily life simulation in which people create alter egos that live out mundane lives, a "digital dollhouse." It has become the best-selling game in PC history. Instead of living life, people log on to computers to play games about living life.

Custom Content

In the 1990s, gamers began creating modifications to popular games, called mods. The first was the Castle Smurfenstein mod for the Castle Wolfenstein game. Once designers understood that these mods increased a game's lifespan, they began encouraging users. The most successful and most widely-played example of a mod is CounterStrike, which was spawned from Half-Life.

Online Play

Internet gaming freed people from a limited number of players. Quake pioneered online gaming for first-person shooters. Internet capability soon became a requirement for most first-person shooters. Other genres also began to use the Internet, such as real-time strategy games WarCraft and StarCraft. Massively Multiplay Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) like EverQuest became sensations, so much so that it's jokingly referred to as "EverCrack."

Whilst historically dominated by young men, modern computer games also appeal to women, especially the MMORPGs and daily life simulation games. The online component of computer games brought a social aspect to gaming, potentially offering an unlimited number of competitors and collaborators. But computer games can also be all-consuming destroying relationships and careers, requiring a

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