The Top Facebook Games of 2010

Facebook games have shown a lot of popularity during the past year. As Facebook adds more games to its already huge entertainment menu you may be wondering which games are the best and most fun to play. This article will give separate game reviews for each of the twenty five top Facebook games for 2010.

To start the Facebook Game reviews, we will begin by taking a look at the number one game on Facebook called FarmVille. FarmVille which is made by Zynga currently has approximately 73,800,000 monthly users and is growing at a steady upward pace. FarmVille is a game in which you can become a farmer. FarmVille allows you to interact with your friends and even become neighbors with them. Basically you will do everything a farmer does while playing FarmVille. Planting, plowing, harvesting and growing a successful farm. Just make sure when playing this game that you harvest your plants on time. Different plants have different times for harvesting and if you don’t harvest in time the plants will die. By taking care of your farm you will get more points and go up in level.

Birthday Cards holds the place of second most popular game of 2010. Birthday Cards is made by RockYou and has approximately 32,000,000 users per month. When using the Birthday Cards game you can customize and send free cards, use a birthday calendar, have a personal birthday list and personal reminders. The game also allows you too start your own birthday zoo. This is popular for those who want to remember their friend’s birthdays and send cards on Facebook.

The third most popular game on Facebook is Café World which is made by Zynga. Café World has approximately 31,000,000 active users per month. Café world is a fun game to play if you ever dreamed of owning your own restaurant. When playing this game you can cook, bake sauté and make anything you want when playing Café World. When playing Café World you are the cook and the restaurant owner therefore you will have to hire servers. When hiring a server on Café World you can select one of your Facebook friends. Make sure to always have plenty of food ready for your guests.

The fourth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Aquarium which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Aquarium has approximately 27,000,000 active users per month. When playing Happy Aquarium on Facebook you will be able to set up your own fish tank. This can be done by purchasing fish and other creatures. Make sure to always feed your fish when playing Happy Aquarium because the fish can die just like in real life. This is a fun game for those who love wish and wish they had an aquarium in their home. The bad thing about this game is that you can’t feed your friends fish if you notice that they are dying.

The fifth most popular game on Facebook is FishVille which is made by Zynga. FishVille has approximately 24,000,000 active users per month. FishVille is very similar to Happy Aquarium in which you set up your own fish tank and care for the fish. When you’re done raising your fish you can sell them for coins and points. Like Happy Aquarium you will maintain your fish tank or your poor creatures will die.

The sixth most popular game on Facebook is Mafia Wars which is made by Zynga. Mafia Wars has approximately 24,000,000 active users per month. The goal of playing Mafia Wars is to grow your Mafia family. This can be done by inviting your Facebook friends to join you at Mafia Wars. Another goal is to increase your group’s wealth and supply your friends with weapons. What it comes down to is whoever has the biggest and the strongest Mafia is the group that comes out on top.

The seventh most popular game on Facebook is Texas HoldEm Poker which is also made by Zynga. Texas HoldEm Poker for Facebook has approximately 22,000,000 active users per month. When playing Texas HoldEm Poker on Facebook it’s pretty much the same as playing the game in life. Before starting get familiar with the rules on how to play Texas HoldEm. Texas HoldEm Poker on Facebook can be played between friends.

The eighth most popular game on Facebook is Pet Society which is made by Playfish; Pet society has approximately 21,000,000 active users per month. Pet Society on Facebook is a very cute game for the animal lover. When playing Pet Society you can decorate your house and go to your friend’s house with presents. This is a very cute and fun game.

The ninth most popular game on Facebook is Petville which is made by Zynga. Petville has approximately 17,000,000 active users per month. This is another adorable pet lover’s game. When playing this game you will take care of your own pet. When you first become a player of Petville you will be asked to create your own pet. The options are endless and the end result is an adorable virtual pet. The goal is to keep your pet clean, well fed, walked and loved. This in turn will create a happy Petville pet for you. This game is very similar to Playfishes Pet Society and other pet based games.

The tenth most popular game on Facebook is YoVille which is made by Zynga. YoVille has approximately 17,000,000 active users per month. When playing YoVille you will be living a virtual life. This game is pretty similar to the extremely popular Sims game for personal computers. While playing YoVille you will be building a virtual life. When playing you can work, socialize; decorate your house or anything else you may desire. This is a fun game for those who like the escape of a virtual world.

The eleventh most popular game on Facebook is Farm Town which is made by Slashkey. Farm Town has approximately 16,000,000 active users per month. Farm Town is very similar to the Facebook game FarmVille. When playing this game you will take care of your own farm. In order to advance to higher levels you will need to plant and harvest crops, invite friends to join you and hire workers to help you with the farm. This is a fun game for those who want to be farmers but live in the city.

The twelfth most popular game on Facebook is Restaurant City which is made by PlayFish. Restaurant City has approximately 15,000,000 active users per month. Restaurant City is very similar to Café Town. When playing Restaurant City you will own a restaurant, create the menu and hire workers. This is a fun game if you are interested in how a restaurant operates. This is a social game and you will be able to interact with your Facebook friends.

The thirteenth most popular game on Facebook is MindJolt Games which is made by MindJolt. MindJolt games have approximately 14,000,000 active users per month. When playing MindJolt you can play over 500 games. The games are arcade style, puzzles, strategy, and so much more. MindJolt is fun for those who want a little gaming variety.

The fourteenth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Pets which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Pets has approximately 12,000,000 active users per month on Facebook. When playing Happy Pets you will grow your kitten into an adult. The object of the game is to take care of as many cats as you can. How many happy cats can you take care of on Happy Pets? If you end up feeling overwhelmed by having too many pets to care for don’t be tempted to sell your cats. Happy Pets doesn’t like those who sell their kitties.

The fifteenth most popular game on Facebook is RCK which is made by Zynga. RCK has approximately 11,000,000 active users per month on Facebook. This is a fun Facebook game in which you can create your own rock band. Ask your Facebook friends to join and help you create a rocking band. This is a fun game to play for any music lover.

The sixteenth most popular game on Facebook is Zoo World which is made by RockYou. Zoo World has approximately 10,000,000 active users per month. When playing Zoo World on Facebook you will take care of zoo animals and Zoo World cash. When earning your Zoo World cash you can purchase new zoo animals and place them in your zoo. This is a fun way to pass time if you enjoy zoo animals.

The seventeenth most popular game on Facebook is Bejeweled Blitz which is made by Popcap games. Bejeweled Blitz has approximately 10,000,000 active users per month. Bejeweled Blitz is an easy to master puzzle game. The fun thing about this game is that you can compete with your Facebook friends. Many people will spend hours out of there day playing Bejeweled Blitz.

The eighteenth most popular game on Facebook is Fish World which is made by Tall Tree Games. Fish World has approximately 9,000,000 active users per month. Fish World is very similar to Happy Aquarium. When playing Fish World you will care for your very own virtual fish. Make sure to feed them and take care of them so they stay alive. Selling your Fish World fish are a common part of the game.

The nineteenth most popular game on Facebook is Pillow Fight which is made by Shikha. Pillow Fight has approximately 8,000,000 active users per month. Pillow fight is a fun game if you enjoy hitting your friends with pillows. The pillows come in different materials and your friends can accept being hit by pillows are choose not to. The pillow that you choose to use will be posted on your friends Facebook page.

The twentieth most popular game on Facebook is (Lil) Farm Life which is made by Playdom. (Lil) Farm Life has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. This is another game that is a lot like FarmVille and Farm Town. When playing this game you will create your own farm with crops, animals and buildings. This is another fun game for those who tire of Farmville and Farm Town.

The Twenty first most popular game on Facebook is Sorority Life which is made by Playdom. Sorority Life has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. When playing this game you can create your own sorority. When signing up for sorority life you can invite friends to join your sorority. Another feature is that you can dress and accessorize however you want. This is a fun game for those who miss their college sorority lifestyle.

The Twenty second most popular game on Facebook is Island Paradise which is made by Meteor Games. Island Paradise has approximately 6,000,000 active users per month. This is a fun game in which you create your own island paradise. When creating your island you can grow crops, add animals or whatever you want on your island. When playing island paradise you can stop by and visit your friends. This is similar to Farmville but for those who love the island life.

The twenty third most popular game on Facebook is Country Life which is made by Country Life. Country life has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. This game is another one that is a lot like Farmville. When playing this game you take care of crops, the only difference from Farmville is that you can create your own bread for more profit.

The twenty fourth most popular game on Facebook is Country Story which is made by Playfish. Country Story has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. This is another farm themed Facebook game. This game is great for those who like FarmVille or Farm Town and want to play something different.

The twenty fifth most popular game on Facebook is Happy Island which is made by CrowdStar. Happy Island has approximately 5,000,000 active users per month. When playing this game you can create your own island. The more attractions you add to your island the more your island will earn. This is similar to Island Paradise but with more buying and selling involved.

Gaming Keyboards – Why Are They Confusing?

Firstly, what we need to look at is what do the words “gaming keyboard” actually mean. Well I will tell you that it is exactly what you think it is. It is a keyboard for gaming. Now with most people it stops there because they think that just because it is a gaming keyboard it can only be used for gaming and nothing else. They don’t realise that a gaming keyboard can be used for much more than just gaming. So this article is aimed at giving some advice in regards to choosing the right gaming keyboard for you. I remember my first programmable gaming keyboard (the Logitech G15) and how I struggled with it. The only reason why I wanted it, was because it was the best on the market at the time and I felt for that reason I needed to own one. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it or what I was going to use it for. I did however, almost add another feature to it’s already impressive list of pre-installed features by illustrating just how effective the keyboard can be in a game of cricket or anything involving a bat. It really irritated me because I did not need it for all the functions and because they were there, I felt I had to use them all. I did use them all in the end, but that was only because I advanced my game play and in doing so required more functions out of the keyboard.

So let’s take a look at some of the aspects that we will have to deal with when looking at gaming keyboards.

  • The features installed on a gaming keyboard and what they actually do
  • The terminology used in gaming keyboards
  • What are the best types of gaming keyboards
  • How do we know which is the right type of gaming keyboard for us

Now many people are already gamers, serious or not and know exactly what the features are and what they can do. But there are as many people out there that don’t know what the features are supposed to do and whether the features are in fact what they actually need. So I have put together a list of the features that you will find on gaming keyboards and below I will explain each one of them more clearly.

Here is a list of the features that you will find installed on gaming keyboards. I would like to add, that not every gaming keyboard has all of the features mentioned below installed on them at the same time.

  1. LCD Display screen
  2. Programmable G-keys (for macros and macros on the fly)
  3. Back Lighting
  4. Anti-Ghosting
  5. In game mode switch
  6. Media controls
  7. Detachable Key Pad
  8. High Speed USB Ports
  9. Automatic Profile Switching
  10. Cruise Control

Now as we can see there are many features that you will find installed on a gaming keyboard, but the important thing now is to know what they can do and when to use them. Let’s take a closer look at the features and see how they can be used for gaming but also for outside of gaming.

The LCD Display screen is a screen at the top of the keyboard (typically in the middle) which displays a host of information to you during game play. An example of the information displayed is; vital game statistics, system statistics, VOIP communication data and you can even see what server your friends are playing certain games on, such as World of Warcraft. You can also watch photo slide shows on the screen as well as YouTube videos (this feature is only on the Logitech G19). So there we can see how good the LCD screen is. Outside of gaming you can still see system statistics displayed, but only on the Logitech G19 can you watch videos and photo slide shows.

Programmable G-Keys (or game keys) are keys that can be programmed to execute certain commands. You can program multiple keys to be executed with a single keypress. So in other words, if you have a command which you would like to execute but it has more than one keystroke required then you would program a G-key to perform all those keypresses for you. Now this is vital in game playing, especially in strategy and role-playing games. But programmable keys can also be used in everyday computing. I own the Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard and I use the programmable key feature to program my passwords and small snippets of text which is normally login information. This is a great feature for those that work with databases or anything where numerous logins are required. It is also good for designers and editors where numerous keypresses are sometimes required.

Back Lighting is a really cool feature. This is standard on all gaming keyboards irrespective of all the other features mentioned above. Basically what this feature does is illuminate the keys from underneath. There are typically three levels of brightness for the back lighting, however all though back lighting is standard on gaming keyboards not all of them have the same colours or as many colours as others do. The Logitech G19 and G510 are gaming keyboards with a host of different colours, whereas others have only three or just one. This is not only good for gaming especially if games are played in low lighted or even dark areas, but also a great asset to changing the style of your workstation. There are people out there that just want a new look for their workstation and backlit keyboards do the trick.

Anti-Ghosting is a feature whereby missed keypresses are in fact actually recorded and not voided. This happens with multiple keypresses albeit not frequently but without anti-ghosting the keypresses won’t be recognized.

In game mode switch is a feature which disables the Windows/Context key during gameplay, so you don’t accidentally get kicked out of your game. Which I am sure has happened to all of us at some point.

Media controls, this feature is great as you can control volume, playback and mute from the keyboard itself. This feature works for headsets that are connected to the keyboard and also for the sound emitting from the computer itself. So there is no need to find the controls on the screen if you want to quickly turn down the volume.

Detachable Key Pad. This is also a really neat feature as you can move the keypad to either the left or the right side, depending which hand you are more comfortable using for operating. Again, this feature is another feature you can use outside of gaming.

High Speed USB Ports are a great advantage as you can Plug and Play with comfort. Also through this feature you can transfer data between devices, such as MP3 Players and Flash Drives and you can do all this while charging your devices that are battery-powered. Another great feature that can be used outside of gaming.

Automatic Profile Switching is a feature that allows you to automatically or manually change the profile you are in or want to be in. With the automatic function, the keyboard detects the application you are running and automatically applies the profile that you previously set for that application. Really cool feature especially if you like to play in different modes (Microsoft Sidewinder X6 had this feature).

The cruise control feature is also a really handy feature to have as it allows you to continue an action without having to hold down all the different keys required to perform the action. You can even use the cruise control function for up to four keypresses (installed on the Microsoft Sidewinder X6)

So as we can see all the features that are installed on a gaming keyboard can also be used for everyday computing, although the obvious design factor was initially for gamers in the first place. Another thing we must look at is the structural design of the keyboard. First thing we will notice is that some of the keyboards are slightly bulkier than a standard keyboard. Now this is to be expected as the keyboard itself houses more keys, requires more space for electrical components and other hardware utilities that are required for game play. But what is also great about the design of gaming keyboards, is that they are designed for ergonomic purposes. This is because gamers spend a lot of time in front of their keyboards and they are more prone to wrist, arm and hand discomfort than users of a standard keyboard. So the idea behind ergonomically designed gaming keyboards is to install some features that will reduce the risk of wrist discomfort overall. These features include; detachable and adjustable wrist wrest, keyboards with zero slope designs, different keyboard feet lengths for effective raising or lowering of keyboards for comfort and also keys that can accommodate softer keypresses.

Now I am not sure how familiar you are with the terminology that is used in the gaming keyboard field, but below is a list words that you will come across with regards to gaming keyboards.

WSAD – This is the four keys that you use to control movement which is typically your W, S, A & D keys.

ANTI-GHOSTING – Typically in a standard keyboard (or dome switch keyboard), the design is in such a way that the keyboard uses columns and rows of wires. Through this design the results that occur can be inaccurate when lots of keys are pressed at once. When this happens the dropped keys become “ghosts”. With keyboards that have anti-ghosting capabilities, they use a small dab of carbon at each switch site to prevent the contact of the keys from shorting the rows or columns of wires. In doing so, this allows the keyboard to decode each key press separately.

MACROS – A macro is a collection of operations and property values that can be applied to an existing visualization or visualizations. So in other words macros are not linked to the objects or visualizations to which they are applied but when they are used, the operations or property settings will be applied to the objects currently selected. This means that property settings can be applied to multiple visualization types, unlike property settings in styles.

OPTICAL – Optical is basically a device used for producing or controlling light. So if you took an optical mouse for example, it would be a mouse that produces light and in doing so uses the light to register it’s movement on your computer.

ULTRA POLLING – Ultra-polling in gaming mice increases the amount of times the firmware on a mouse reports it’s tracking data to the computer to 1ms (1000hz). In doing so, it reduces the interval between each transmission of movement calculations and therefore giving the cursor on the screen a smoother and more precise feel with increased responsiveness.

HYPER RESPONSE – On a hyper response button, there are two stages that go into the development of the button. This is basically to ensure that it can always be actuated no matter where it is pressed and also how quickly is it pressed. So therefore if you don’t completely press down on a button or don’t press hard enough, the button will still actuate and you will not lose response time.

ON-THE-FLY – This is basically just when you doing something in a hurry or to create something quickly when needed.

G-KEYS – These are basically game keys. The keys that you can program with macros.

ERGONOMICS – This is basically a study to see how things interact with the human body. So if you were to take a pen for example; holding it for long periods of time and writing with it could eventually cause discomfort to the hand and wrist. By making the design of the pen more ergonomically, it would allow for long periods of use without causing discomfort. This study is applied to everything that interacts or can interact with the human body

Now the only answer I can give you about which gaming keyboard is the best is simple. It depends entirely on what you want to use the keyboard for. The industry is lead to believe the Logitech G19 Programmable Gaming Keyboard is the best on the market and to a certain degree it is. It has all the features that other keyboards have but more advanced and it is designed with serious gamers in mind, therefore lending itself to being classed as the best gaming keyboard ever. But in my opinion a gaming keyboard, or anything for that matter is only as good as what you need it for. If you don’t need it for a lot of things then don’t buy one that can do everything.

With regards to what gaming keyboard is best for you, well again that depends on what you want out of it. If you are a novice gamer with little experience with programmable keyboards, then it is probably better to take a gaming keyboard with either no programmable keys or a keyboard with a limited number of programmable keys. However in saying that, many of the gaming keyboards have really good instruction manuals and CDs. But again, if you only need a few keys that can be programmed then don’t buy a gaming keyboard with massive amounts of programmable options. So it all boils down to what you need it for. If you take the time to think clearly about what will you want to get from a gaming keyboard and read all the reviews on the different types of gaming keyboards, then your decision won’t be wrong.

Secrets to an Amazing Role-Playing Game

Role-playing games are a very specialist type of game that really need a far greater attention to detail than other less immersive genres. As the computerized version of the genre took off there were a lot of money hungry companies who decided to storm into the genre without really trying to understand what the vital elements of a role-playing game are. In some cases, these companies have actually had the audacity to buy out smaller companies who did know the genre and they destroyed long-held legacies of great traditional games.

Considering that this may have an impact on the future of computerized role-playing games I have felt it to be of importance to educate these gaming giants in an effort to help them understand the only thing that matters to them. In order to sell role-playing games you need an audience willing to buy the product and if a company consistently puts out dodgy shooters in the guise of apparent role-playing games they’ll only destroy their reputation and go bankrupt. I know that the word bankrupt is a word that these money hungry companies recognises and so I emphasise one point, try to sell dodgy shooters to role-playing fans and you will go bankrupt!

Personally, I have been a role-playing gamer for about thirty years and I fell in love with only two systems that I probably can’t name because of article writing guidelines. What I can say is that very few game producing companies have come even close to the pen and paper versions of the best role-playing games on the market, you know, the ones that people actually enjoy playing. I will say that I rejoiced when role-playing games became computerized as it meant I could do my role-playing without the need to hunt for people with similar tastes and even though some games have risen to become great role-playing games, they are sadly few and far between. On that note, of the styles of role-playing games that include pen and paper, computerized games and online games, there is only one type that can meet the fully immersive needs of a role-player and I’ll reveal why later.

Okay, what are the elements of a great role-playing game then? I’ll give you one at a time but the very most important piece of advice to keep in mind during this whole discussion is immersion. To be a truly great role-playing game, it has to grab the players attention and not deliver diversions that allow the player to slip back into the reality of the real world. The player must be kept in the fictional world if they are to feel that they have experienced a great role-playing game.

One of the most vital elements of immersion is a storyline; a really believable and yet gripping storyline. A role player doesn’t want to load up the newest game and find to their dismay that storyline consists of the flimsy idea that they have to kill heaps of things to get enough experience to kill the apparent bad guy. Who wants to play a game where the bad guy is designated the bad guy without good reason? Have you played a game where you are part of one group of people and you’ve been chosen to defeat the other group of people but there’s no actual evidence that shows why the other group is bad? The worst of these are the recent thug games where one criminal organisation wants to defeat another criminal organisation and you’re the hitman. Who is really that stupid to fall for such a terrible storyline? It’s certainly not for intelligent role-players.

A good storyline can’t be a shallow excuse for a war and it has to be something you’d want to be a part of. The storyline also has to be included in the gameplay itself and delivered in a way that doesn’t interrupt the reality of the gameplay either. There’s nothing worse than a big cut-scene that drops into the middle of the game and makes you sit idle for more than a minute or two. For role-play gamers, the immersion of the game comes from being the character, not from watching the cut-scenes as if you were watching television. What’s next… advertisements?

Another part of a great game play experience is being aware that you have been a part of the fictional world since you were born. This is conveyed by knowing where things are in the world and knowing who the current leaders are, along with knowing current events. This can be done cleverly by feeding snippets of information in a natural manner during conversations with non-player characters. Some extremely vital information can be revealed in otherwise meaningless banter, just like in the world you’re immersed in right now.

One thing that will jolt a role player out of a game is a sudden unwanted conversation with a hastily introduced character who explains where the next local town is and that you have to be careful because there’s a war on or some such thing. This is only done in games where the maps are updated as you discover places of interest. Making a major city that lies not ten miles from your current position something that you have to discover is ridiculous at best and only suits scenarios where you’ve been teleported into a new reality or you’ve lost your memory although the latter should be used sparingly as there are already too many games out there that rely on the character having amnesia. Discovery can be implemented in far more subtle ways by having secret areas within already well-known places and it is this that gives a role-player a sense of discovery.

Another immersion problem is the introduction of a love interest in a game without any participation on your part. You’re playing away, minding your own business and then all of a sudden, one of the infatuated characters that you never knew existed, has an impact on gameplay because of a supposed vital role they play in the group you’re a part of. They should, at the least, allow a bit of flirting in the conversation paths before a love interest is thrust into the mix. For me, someone suddenly having that kind of interest is an immersion breaker because there was nothing at all that prompted a relationship. If there is a love interest possibility in the game, then it needs to be introduced in a believable way and shouldn’t be out of the characters control.

There was one game in which this happened and the involvement of two love interests was the excuse for one of the non-player characters to do worse at being a support while the other became a great support. Sure, the idea was novel but it was also very childish because it assumed that these two love interests were so enamoured with the player that neither could do without him. It was worse than watching Baywatch or Desperate Housewives.

I’m only going to add one more element to the mix because I just wouldn’t reach a conclusion if I allowed myself to point out every requirement of the best role-playing games. As I stated before, the important factor is immersion. A real deal breaker for me is the inability to develop the type of character I want. I’ve encountered this more often than not in games where you have no choice over the skills that you character can develop. Of course, this is the worst scenario and there are many games that allow limited development but there are only a handful of games that allow a real sense of development.

A truly great role-playing game has to allow players to develop in any direction and compensate for this flexibility by incorporating multiple paths through the game. There’s no point in creating a computerized role-playing game if the character does the same thing in every single play through of the game. The most annoying of these issues is a game where you can have a spell wielding character but they develop the exact same spells at exactly the same point in every run of the game. It’s a little more forgivable for warrior types but even in this case there are many games which allow for dozens of different fighting styles.

Now, if I were to continue with this discussion I’d add other topics like the renaming of attributes with no good cause, allowing for more than one quest to be given at a time, real world purchase requirements during the game and other ridiculous practices.

I did promise to show which game type was the best for role-playing games though so, here it is. Non-online computerized games are the only games that allow for full immersion and I’ll explain why.

Unlike table-top games, you aren’t interrupted by the requirement to physically reach out and move pieces which takes you out of the role of the piece itself. Compared to pen and paper games, you aren’t required to look up tables or enter long boring discussions on how rules should be interpreted. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games don’t meet the requirements either and I know some of you will be surprised but when was the last time you were playing a computerized role-playing game and one of the other players had to leave because they had to go to work and they informed you it was a different time in their part of the world.

Computerized role-playing games are the only role-playing game type where the characters stay in the game, you don’t have to suddenly work out if something is allowable by the rules and the user interface stays consistent so that the immersion is most efficient.

In conclusion, the best role-playing games are stand-alone home computer based and don’t involve interaction with other real world people who will throw a spanner in the immersion works. The storyline must be solid and delivered in a natural manner, a deliverable assumption that your character already knows the fictional world, no instant love interests out of nowhere and the ability to develop your character in any direction seamlessly along with plot paths that allow for these developments.

I only hope that the gaming companies pay attention to this and realise that they are making role-playing games for role-players and if they’re not in the market for role-players, then they should call their games by a different genre.

Benefits of Gaming – PC and Video Games

New PC and video games are not only capable of providing fun and excitement for everyone, but they can also give certain benefits and advantages.

With the help of advanced technology and popularity, the gaming industry has advanced and expanded rapidly over the years.

If we are looking for categorization of videos games, they are broadly divided into eight major categories:

Action

These are fast paced and may contain a large amount of violence due to this. Action games are usually inappropriate for children. Such games fall under the category “M” (mature-rated). Examples are Halo, Star Wars, Jedi Knight and Enter the Matrix.

Adventure and Role Playing

These are normally not as graphic as action games and can take the player into surrealism and fantasy. Though adventure and role-playing games often contain violence, it is not found to be as intense as the violence in action games. Examples of this category are Borderlands 2, Final Fantasy, Legend of Mana and Billy Hatcher.

First Person Shooters

As the name implies, it is a game in which the player sees the action through the eyes of the character he is representing and involves the use of pistols or rifles to kill the enemy. Due to the violence involved in this genre of games, they are not suitable for young children. Examples of these games are “Half-Life, “Half-Life 2”, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and so on.

Construction and Management Simulation (CMS)

As the name suggests, in the games belonging to this genre, the players are expected to build, expand and manage imaginary projects and communities with very little resources. Examples of this genre include, “SimCity” and “Harvest Moon”.

Strategy

Here the accent is on strategy rather than on violence and these games are slower which gives the player time for strategic thinking, resource management and planning to achieve victory. Most are warfare based and so violence is not completely absent. These games are not suitable for children. Some examples are Advanced Wars I & II, Civilization V and Crusader Kings II.

Simulation

These are video or computer games that simulate real world situations under game settings. In this category, the three well-known games are Racing Simulators, Flight Simulators and Sims. There are lots of games in this class to entertain children. Some examples of simulation games are: Football Manager, Farming Simulator 2013, The Sims and Evil Genius.

Platformer

The Platform Game or Platformer is consists of jumping between suspended platforms of varying heights or obstacles and sometimes both to move forward in the game. Some examples of Platformer are 40 Winks, Abuse, Action 52 and Adventure Island.

PUZZLES

Puzzle video games are a class of games that require puzzle solving. The kinds of puzzles that need to be solved can involve many problem solving skills such as using logic, word completion sequence solving, strategy and pattern recognition. Some examples of Puzzle Video Games are Mario, Bejeweled 3, Cradle of Rome 2 and Hidden Objects.

While on the subject, let’s not forget Sports games such as NHL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13 and Arcade games such Chicken Shoot 1, Toy Story Mania and Angry Birds to name a few.

Nowadays, video games are enjoyed by a wide cross-section of our society, from toddlers to grandparents and these have been accepted by everyone as a good manner of entertainment and seen to be better than watching TV as it requires the viewer’s participation and interaction.

The general feeling is that video games do not provide any benefits to the player and especially so in the case of children.

Contrary to this belief, there are many benefits in allowing children to play certain types of games. Most important of these benefits is the development of:

· Cognitive thinking skills

· Fine motor skills

· Real-time decision-making abilities

· Hand-eye coordination

· Cooperative playing skills

Keeping video games out of the reach of children can only deprive them of these benefits.

A child’s imagination can be stimulated through role-playing and adventure games. Even if some of these games can seem tasteless due to its graphic nature and violence, they can play a positive and important role in a child’s development by promoting teamwork, building confidence and improving motor skills. Playing such video games will only provide a child with a healthy means of expression.

Certain video games are believed to teach children high level thinking skills which they would benefit from in the future.

Now that we have looked at the benefits for children, let’s look at what benefits video games hold for the rest of us.

Research into the pros and cons of video games are being conducted by various bodies including universities in some parts of the world and the result is that the pros outweigh the cons in respect of benefits.

When playing video games, you would need to react quickly and take split second decisions in order to succeed in the given task. It is believed that this kind of practice would provide benefits in real life where you would be able react with speed and take quick decisions.

Brain scientists have discovered that a certain driving video game, created by a research and development team at the University of California in San Francisco could improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults.

It was found that immersion in a game distracts the mind from pain and discomfort. Due to this reason, some hospitals have started to suggest that children and others undergoing painful treatments play games to reduce their distress and anxiety.

Some video games have provided improvement in “Cognitive Flexibility”, which is the ability to switch quickly from one task to another.

Researchers from North Carolina State University found a link between playing video games and mental well-being among the elderly. They found that those citizens who played video games, even occasionally, experienced a state of well- being and happiness.

Gaming can also improve family relationships, as some of these games can and should be played together.

According to some studies conducted at the University of Rochester, people playing certain titles of video games have shown improvements in tests in the following areas:

• Multitasking

• Attention

• Accuracy

• Vision

The only thing a video game player or his or her family needs to ensure is that it does not become addictive in any way. A video game player shouldn’t end up spending hours on end playing games and losing track of time and place and while neglecting duties, personal chores and responsibilities.

Another thing that the parents of minors need to ensure is that their kids get access only to educational or similar games which are suitable for their age group and the good news is that there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.

A video game content rating is a system is available in many countries and they are used to classify video games into suitability-related age groups with respect to its contents which, if followed, will help to limit the negative aspects of some of the games.

Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem” which means children turning to internet for readymade answers is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology to be a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology is hindering the students’ capacity to think and analyze, there is also a strong opinion in favor of video games and digital gadgets’ ability to engage students and enhance learning by using more than one sensory stimulators. In spite of the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them in the process of classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They have a curiosity to discover new things and learn by way of discovering and experimenting even before they are subjected to methods of formal education such as reading or writing. Science is a discipline of experiments and discoveries. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that “science education needs to give students three kinds of scientific skills and understandings. Students need to learn the principles and concepts of science, acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of scientists, and understand the nature of science as a particular form of human endeavor. Students therefore need to be able to devise and carry out investigations that test their ideas, and they need to understand why such investigations are uniquely powerful. Studies show that students are much more likely to understand and retain the concepts that they have learned this way “. Hence, it becomes imperative to engage children in science education at an early stage.

Digital games are more capable to gain students’ interests and attention than other conventional means of imparting education in a classroom. However, some educationists also regard them as culprits of exponential decline in the attention span in children. The next sections in this article discuss the involvement of children in games in the tech age, types of games available in the market and the impact of digital gaming as learning aids in classrooms.

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. Involvement of kids in digital gaming is a result of many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of the modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual income families and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are some major contributors in making screen games an important part of the children’s’ lives. A study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) found that only 20 percent of the census blocks are within half a mile of a block boundary. Also, the effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined in these times of social networking.

The digital gaming market is one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games amongst youngsters. In the US, 97% of the teens play some type of game on a regular basis. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, it is imperative that educationists are continuously contemplating the use of digital gaming as a learning tool in classrooms. Institutions are also employing innovative ways to leverage the digital advantage for enhancing the learning experience at schools.

What are Digital Games?

There is no concrete definition of games as it may vary with an individual’s preference and profession. Games can be defined as a “system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, which result in a quantifiable outcome”. Technology and digitization add new dimensions to games where simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Digital games are also characterized by their portability and limitless accessibility.

Role-playing games, simulation games and puzzles are some of the most popular digital games. In role-playing games, the player enacts the role of a particular character in a virtual world moving from one level to the other based on the outcome of the earlier level. RPGs can be single player such as the dungeons and dragons from earlier days of gaming or multi-player games such as Diablo III, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Mass Effect 3. MMORPG or the Massive Multiple Online Role-Playing Games are an extension of the RPGs where large number of players interacts in an online virtual world. Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. The outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and will be closely similar to what may happen in a real world in the same situation. Widely used in training and analysis, simulation games are also popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS) and Need for Speed have been extremely popular simulation games for a long time. Puzzles genre of digital games involves problem solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the nature of the game. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.

All types of digital games involve a social involvement of players. Some need collaborative efforts to play while others may be discussed or analyzed socially. In spite of some games being accused of outright violent visual effects, a well-designed game can accelerate the thinking process by motivating, engaging, involving creativity and developing a meta-game i.e., social interactions inspired and enhanced inside or outside the game. Incorporating digital gaming in the basic education framework can lead to augmented competitiveness and multi-dimensional growth in children.

Digital Games in Science Education – Why and Why Not?

The 21st century requires the mentors and the students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Though the ultimate goal is to benefit the students in terms of learning and experience, unsupervised, unorganized or irrelevant application can lead to complete failure or have negative effects. Some of the negative impacts of digital games in general and in context with the education are listed below:

    • Digital games have been facing constant rebuke for allegedly enhancing aggression amongst kids and developing a violent streak at an early stage. In a study by Anderson and Bushman (2001), Children involved in violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping. Use of weapons and being rewarded for being violent is a cause of widespread concern.
    • Digital games can be addictive for children and make them physically inactive. Digital games, other than social networking, are considered for reduced physical activity leading to obesity in kids and postural and skeletal disorders.
    • Addiction to games is also known to make kids socially secluded. Impulsive behavior, depression and increased anxiety levels are largely attributed to excessive gaming in children. Some studies also suggest that the children playing games are unable to concentrate for a long span and have reduced attention span.
    • Children are prone to absorbing socially unacceptable behavior through some digital games such as using profanities and ill-treating the fairer sex. Lack of adequate knowledge about screening the material available online is a growing concern amongst the parents.
    • Digital games are considered a hindrance to better performance in academics. Students are often found to skip homework to play games leading to deteriorated performance at school. However, despite their reputation as promoters of violence and mayhem, digital games have in fact been shown to help children learn skills, content, and vital “21st-century” skills. From digital games children can learn: content (from rich vocabulary to science to history), skills (from literacy to math to complex problem-solving), creation of artifacts (from videos to software code) and systems thinking (how changing one element affects relationships as a whole). Strong arguments in favor of using digital games as learning aids in secondary education are summarized below:
    • Digital games involve extreme hand-eye coordination and enhance motor and sensory skills. Sensory stimulation theory proposed by academician Laird (1985) validates that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated. While some studies show that digital gaming reduces attention span, there are strong evidences of improved concentration in short intervals of time. Digital games involve keeping an eye on every detail, follow the rules and respond proactively to the given situation. Complex digital games help is developing problem-solving and decision-making skills. Some games also involve logical analysis of the situation and pattern recognition and improve memorizing thus assisting in the cognitive process. Playing by the rules teaches children to accept and respect a certain level of discipline.
  • Multi-player digital games develop a sense of constructive competitive attitude. Collaborative games also improve team-building attitude. They develop time management skills in a team and train the players to cooperate for mutually desired goal. They teach the players to accept defeat as well as strive for better results. Digital games provide an avenue for hyperactive kids to direct the energy in a constructive system based game. They also provide an outlet to release aggression and frustration, thus helping in diffusing stress. Some games also involve physical activity such as Nintendo Wii boxing helping kids to engage mentally and physically with the kids. Complex digital games involve high level of multitasking thus improving brain’s natural learning process. Brain based learning theory proposes that multi-tasking is an inherent activity of the brain and learning is enhanced by challenges at various levels. Digital games develop efficient situational analysis and strategy making in children. Since games have certain objectives at every level and a final objective of the game, it teaches players to devise short term and long-term strategies such as scoring points, retaining energy and reaching the ultimate goal of the game. Simulation games and the role-playing digital games help players gain expertise or learn by experiencing in replicas of real world situations. Experiential learning and action learning theories are based on the premise that individuals learn faster when they by experiencing and actually participating in action.