Programming computers to play games attracted the interest of such computer scientists as Babbage, Turing, and Shannon long before the first personal computers (PCs) came into existence. When personal computers and dedicated game consoles became widely available, in the 1970s, large numbers of computer game titles appeared in the marketplace almost immediately.
Some people have argued that the computational expectations of modern computer game players pushed PC hardware manufacturers to increase the multimedia processing power of the home computer.
The advent of the Internet and its rapid spread to homes throughout the world similarly has attracted the attention of game designers seeking to create multiplayer games among widely dispersed users.
Creating games intended to run on the World Wide Web requires a good understanding of the principles used to design games for stand-alone computers, as well as knowledge about network architecture and client/server computing.
The computer game industry has had gross sales in excess of 7 billion dollars since 1998 Some industry analysts have predicted that sometime during the next ten years computer game play will be the most popular means of family entertainment.
Indeed, by some estimates, computer game sales may have exceeded motion picture revenues for the year 2001. A recent survey showed that the average age of computer game buyers is about 31 years old.
Computer game development is serious business. Major game development projects often have production budgets exceeding 2 million dollars for a single title and sequels abound.
The Internet has the potential to allow game developers to increase their share of the entertainment market as the number of households having access to the World Wide Web continues to grow.
Users of the World Wide Web can download commercial games to play on their personal computers, participate in multiplayer games online, and find support communities for their favorite games. There are several online game services that derive their sole income from providing access to Internet games for a fee.
Many of the console game manufacturers have promised some type of Internet connectivity in their new product lines. A number of successful educational computer games are being ported to the Internet. A recent survey of information systems managers found that 90% of them have access to games at work and that 58% play games at work several times a week.
Easy access to the Internet has encouraged software piracy by some people. In addition to lost worker productivity, chief information officers are finding that their corporate servers are being used by some employees as repositories for the exchange of pirated software, which exposes the company to prosecution for distributing unlicensed copies of software.
Many people feel that downloading software from the Internet is a major source of computer viruses in the work place. Computer viruses have a reputation for destroying information stored on computers, and a significant amount of time is often required to remove them and have their damage repaired.
There is some evidence that computer game playing can be psychologically addictive, encourages violent behavior among young children, and can cause repetitive stress injuries.
There is also some evidence that playing computer games can increase hand–eye coordination, raise a person’s self-esteem, and help children learn to deal with the complexities found in real-life situations