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tems are based on a central processing unit similar to those used in standard desktop
computers.To keep the cost of the video game system within reasonable limits, most
manufacturers use a CPU that has been available on the market for long enough to have
undergone a significant decrease in cost.
Consoles tend to be cheaper than PC's, with prices ranging from a high end of about
200 for the Sony PlayStation 2, to less than 40 for an older, second-hand system.
Consoles have other advantages including quick loading times, automatic booting proce-
dures and robust (but focused) operating systems. From the perspective of the user the
degree of technical knowledge required to set up and use consoles is much lower. Most
game consoles are truly `plug and play' and video game systems are designed to be one
part of a larger home entertainment system.This means that they are easy to connect to
various audio-visual devices, allowing larger screens than PC's' to be used for their display.
There are no difficulties with compatibility issues often created by operating systems,
DirectX drivers, audio and graphics cards, and incompatible game controllers. Each type
of console has a fixed specification and the graphics, internal memory, and drivers are
identical across all units of a particular model. Components of desktop PC's from
memory, to graphics, to peripheral devices (e.g. sound cards) evolve regularly, hence
games developed for contemporary PC's may be incompatible with older machines due
to a lack of memory, an unsuitable graphics card or driver or some other hardware or
software shortcoming.
While PC operating systems and software are prone to `crashes' or `lock ups' this very
rarely occurs with games consoles as game software is designed and tested rigorously
against known and fixed hardware and software specifications.
PC-based systems
With the advanced power of today's graphics boards and processors, huge amounts of
RAM and GHz speed CPU's, the raw power of the desktop PC can certainly keep up
with the pace set by leading-edge consoles. PC's have hard drives which allow large
amounts of information to be stored and accessed in the background. Most games con-
soles lack this, although Microsoft's Xbox is a notable exception, and tend to rely on
removable memory cards. As a result, they often struggle to load appropriate code in
advance of when it is needed; this failure makes the games appear hesitant. PC's allow
gamers to increase the capabilities of their gaming platform and increase their enjoyment
of the game with expansions and upgrade packages.
With modem and online connectivity, players can challenge each other in multiplayer
environments online and achieve more personal prestige and recognition for their
accomplishments. Console makers are catching on to this and new units tend to have
modem connectivity and multiplayer functionality as standard. As well as performing
general tasks, the PC along with the Internet opens the door to a million creative spin-
offs. Inbuilt game-editors encourage gamers to build their own levels, game fans fill
nicely designed Websites with hints and tips, and friendships and game `clans' are formed
over the net.
Game development for consoles requires expensive software and hardware leading to a
`closed shop' environment. However, PC developer communities tend to be more open
and inclusive, as it is relatively easy to develop software or applications directly onto and
for the PC using a wide variety of tools and programming languages.
In the future, it is expected that PC's will continue to be used for general day-to-day
tasks like Web browsing, email, word processing and games that require higher technical
Games Technology