A n I n t ro d u c t i o n t o G a m e s Te c h n o l o g y
Games have been a part of everyday life for several thousand years. Archaeologists have
uncovered a complete set of gaming equipment which dates from 3000 BC and another
game Wej-qi, a precursor to the game Go was discovered in China and dates from
around 2000 BC.The play instinct, it seems, is a fundamental aspect of humanity.
Gaming and communications have been the two human fundamentals that have made
the leap into the information age with the greatest fluidity. Broadly speaking, the term
`gaming' covers a variety of applications on a variety of platforms, including dedicated
consoles, personal computers, mobile phones, handheld/self-contained game units and
public game machines.This report will concentrate on console and computer games as
these provide the most possibilities for presenting content related to the cultural heritage
sector, though potential future uses on other platforms will be highlighted. At present,
games on mobile phones and portable units are very limited in content and possibility,
though online gaming is a rapidly expanding area.
Most games involve simulation of one kind or another and tend to be divided into
different categories or genres depending on their level of realism. Flight and driving sim-
ulators are very popular, as are team sport and `god' games. Role-playing and adventure
games tend to be more abstract and increasingly cerebral in nature. Simple adaptations of
traditional games and puzzles remain very popular as well, particularly when bundled
with an operating system or a particular mobile phone.
The Digiplay Initiative (http://digiplay.org.uk/) found that 73% of seven to 29-year-
olds has played computer games at some time, with 25.8% playing every day and 47.6%
on most days. In the USA, sales figures for games have overtaken those of books and in
the UK the gaming market is worth 80% more than the video rental market.These fig-
ures speak for themselves and the usefulness of gaming technology in stimulating interest
in (and increasing accessibility to) cultural heritage resources is a focus of this report.
Where is games technology used?
Though primarily found in the home as an entertainment device, games are not
restricted to this environment alone.The business sector has long used games and simula-
tions to train people in developing fiscal, economic and trading skills, and the military
uses simulation-based games in combat training.The health sector is increasingly using
techniques and technologies similar to those used in games to simulate the effects of
drugs and illnesses on the human body and in veterinary medicine to teach students
potentially hazardous techniques. Aircraft pilots and racing car drivers frequently use sim-
ulations in the early stages of training in order to familiarise themselves with the often
very expensive equipment without the risk of physical or fiscal damage.