Interested In Online Gaming? Here's What Your Computer Needs

The world of gaming has transformed explosively since the days of arcade cabinets and a few consoles. Computer gaming itself is almost unrecognizable, booming into a huge selection of amazing graphics, reflex-challenging wonder, fast-paced action, addictive convenience or even relaxation. To get the most out of the gaming world, many people turn to computers for their versatility and productivity when it's time to work instead. Take a look at what it means to be a online computer gamer and a few things to help you wade through a lot of the hype-filled terminology.

A Gaming Computer Is Just A Specialization

Many computer manufacturers stick labels on their computers simply to add value to an existing, sometimes barely changed product. A business computer is a standard computer with a bit of software that you could get anywhere and a business service contract. A media center computer simply has better video and more audio hookups for a better movie and music experience than the standard computer. Gaming computers have one major difference from standard computers: a video card.

When discussing gaming in terms of computer power, people aren't talking about basic browser games like Peggle or Farmville. Gaming computers need dedicated video cards to power not only amazing graphics, but the hundreds or thousands of different entities, reactions and complexities in games such as Skyrim, raids in World of Warcraft or the interstellar battles of Star Citizen

Video cards have almost an entire computer's setup on a smaller card but are dedicated only to graphics. That means there's a processor [a graphics processor unit (GPU), as opposed to the central processing unit (CPU)], memory and often a powerful fan to keep everything running smoothly.

The general computer performance needs to be beefed up, but for entry level and medium gaming machines that can tackle games at near maximum or maximum quality settings, it's not too expensive to just add a video card, a bit more memory (at least 8 gigabytes) and, in most extreme cases, a new processor (at least quad core, 3.0 gigahertz). In most cases, a modern desktop computer as of 2016 simply needs a video card slid into place. 

Getting The Online Part Right

Online gaming needs a consistent internet connection. You may be able to get away with wireless internet or a sloppy Internet Service Provider (ISP) at beginning areas of gameplay or if you strictly play as a casual amateur, but if you ever plan on being competitive or reaching as far as you can in an online game, consistent internet is a basic need.

To play online games, you're installing a program that talks to the game company's servers. In essence, the game software that you install is both a display of what's going on at the server and a controller for your character. Every gunshot, laser, spell, purchase and chat message is sent to the server as a request and sent back to you as a confirmation, and your game software is simply giving you a view of how it works.

If your internet connection is shoddy, you'll either run into delays with your actions or run in place doing nothing. This is called lag, and can stop you from getting things done as fast as other players when time is of the essence.

If you're unsure of which parts of your computer and network setup may need upgrades for online gaming, contact an IT support professional to discuss your needs.