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A computer game is a computer program that allows one or more users, interactive a described as platforms game to play. Colloquially, the term is game used (from english game , game ‘).

Although all games on computer-based devices such as PC and game console are computer games, the term computer game is used primarily for gaming on PCs colloquially. The termvideo game called all electronic visual-based games and is mostly used for PC, mobile and console games.

The field of game studies deals with computer games in theoretical terms, the games are considered as products and games as action into consideration. [1]

Other names and boundaries

Historic designation of to be connected to televisions gaming computer (z. B. Pong ).
Arcade game
Designation for the coin machine running computer game devices. The term derives from the USA in malls from vending machines in operation. The term is often applied to fast, action-packed games with short gameplay, typical for arcade machines, even if they run on other platforms.
Console game
Designation for on game consoles running computer games. Game consoles were the successors of the Telespiele; The software offer was based in the early 1980s to a large extent on conversions of games written for arcade machines. As console games are also marketed for other platforms, and games developed for consoles are also offered for other platforms, this subgroup of computer games is not firmly defined.
Video game
The term video game highlights the visual output of the game action shows on a monitor. In this regard, almost all computer games are video games, even if it deviated Audio gamesare purely acoustic output, the highly visually impaired can also be played by blind and. Colloquially, the term is, however, often as a synonym for console game used frequently between “computer games” (meaning PC Games) and “video games” (ie console games in this case) to distinguish. Because in English videogame is the general term for computer games of any kind, is in line with this, the German video game also sometimes used as a synonym for the preamble computer game.
(also eGame or eGame as an abbreviation for Electronic Game ) is sometimes a summary term for console games and PC used games, so as a synonym for computer game .


The computer games developed within about 50 years from more technical attempts at universities to one of the most influential leisure forms of the 21st Century.

Already at the first computers, there have been attempts to known games, such as the checkers implement. First computer game that offered new possibilities beyond long-known games from the Americans in 1958 is often William Higinbotham developed Tennis for Two viewed. The development was strongly dependent on the technical progress of computer technology. Was she playing at first only “incidentally” to actually intended for other purposes mainframes at universities from, so it was possible by combining the now relatively inexpensive simple logic chips with the existing television technology in the 1970s, games on electronic gaming machines to the public play. Was very successful as Pong of Nolan Bushnell . Companies such as Atari or Magnavox brought the computer game in the form of video game consoles also close to the home users. A rapidly growing mass market developed.

The introduction of the Home and Personal Computer (PC) in the 1980s, initially developed two technically considered different types of computer games: First, the video game (then “video game”), which was based on special game consoles and the computer game for home computers and Later increasingly for PCs. In 1983, there was a crash on the video games market , mainly due to the flooding of the market with poor video games and the growing technological superiority of the home computer over the then-game consoles. In Japan , where home computers were not as successful, rang Nintendo in 1983 with the console Nintendo Entertainment System in a new era of video games that about two years later, North America and Europe reached.

Since the mid-1990s the areas for gaming consoles and PCs have been increasingly converged for marketing reasons. To form (as the single storage media CD-ROM or DVD ) and a compatible hardware the ability to games for different consoles as well as PCs largely parallel and thus more cost-effective and for a wider market to develop.

Computer games are now a widespread and important form of entertainment. They are among the most productive areas of narrative activity in the digital media. You have the field ofInteractive Fiction extended to sensual impressions and enables users in real-time to interact. [2] to own industry has made for their development, their revenues partially the respective In many countries film industry top.

Social structure


Computer games characterize our culture today. They affect people of modern societies as well as other mass media . Particularly among young people, it is observed that their everyday life is greatly changed by computer games. The importance and acceptance of a computer game is very different in the various industrial countries. In some countries, computer games lead sociocultural and culturally a niche, though not necessarily economically. In contrast, for example, has in South Korea a significant culture formed around game and players. Computer games play an important role in everyday life.

The computer game is only reluctantly as an art form beside film , music , visual arts , etc. accepted. This may be due to the short history and the often very technology-related content, which is fixed on mere entertainment. In new titles, these are very often merely technically improved repetitions of older titles with hardly new contents. On the other hand, the derogatory name acting like game help, which suggests a similarity to a toy with the naked entertainment value without content relay. There are also arguments for the art form of computer game: since playing with the PC or the console is interactive, everyone makes their own “art” by applying their own way of playing.


Two young men playing computer games. (Thailand, 2007)

Computer games are played in all ages. Some children already begin with the preschool age. In general, male young people and young men are particularly interested in computer games. The average computer player was between 18 and 23 years old.

According to Digital federation Bitkom [3] play 2015 42 percent of German computer and video games. There are differences in the age groups: among the 14 to 29-year-olds the proportion is 81 percent. In the age group between 30 and 49 years, it is 55 percent, among the 50- to 64-year-olds 25 percent and in the generation 65-Plus play 11 percent computer games or video games. The Entertainment Software Association , the trade association, where most computer games publishers are involved, assumes that one in four American citizens regularly plays at the age of about 50 years on the computer. [4] Female adolescents are not averse to playing computer games, but spend most less time. In Germany played 2007 the study ” Typology of Wishes ” by 38.8% of men and 22.3% of women computer or video games. [5] 2015 was a representative survey [6] the first to show that in Germany the proportion of players in men and women with 43 or 42 percent is high about the same. [7] In particular, in the E-Sport , the competitive challenge of playing computer or video games, there are many so-called “all female”, thus purely female clans who also play their own tournaments.

As a rule, game consoles are mostly aimed at a younger audience and therefore contain more action. Computer games for the PC can also create more complex simulations by means of more powerful hardware and are therefore also popular among older people. The main buyer group is not young people, but young adults because young people do not have the necessary money and therefore often copy commercial software. A similar problem is familiar with the music industry . Use of computer games for the purpose of training is possible. But does not meet the strict definition of a game as without purpose , so that one usually in such cases of simulations speaks.

The possibilities of digital media arises from the ranks of the players a movement of people, not only use the computer games, but change this well and even develop new games from them. So-called Mods (short for modification) are most of the players, rarely by professional game developers , created when changes or expansions of computer games. For example, after a while, errors or unwanted restrictions in commercial games are eliminated, the graphics are improved or additional functions are installed. Much more important, however, are the Mods, which extend the original game by new experiences. The most common modification is Counter-Strike , originally as multiplayer extension for the game Half-Life emerged. The computer game industry is increasingly actively supporting this scene, as it is a convenient way to expand the game and make it even more attractive.


Negative effects

In an exaggerated consumption of computer games and the associated sleep deprivation may (as with excessive computer use in general) to sleep , hallucinations , lack of concentration, poor posture (caused by lack of exercise ), nerve damage ( carpal tunnel syndrome ), eye damage, power failure and nervousness come. The occurrence of Gaming Sickness (see alsosimulator sickness , motion sickness ) is possible. Many game manuals also be epilepsy warnings issued; These are required by law in some countries. A published on 10 November 2005 study by the Berliner Charité showed that about one in ten Gamer fulfills dependence criteria comparable to those of other addicts such as alcohol dependence . [8] An association between aggression and gambling has not been established, but this issue is much discussed in politics and in the media.

Regardless of this, it seems that the same sentence, which was developed within the framework of research on television, seems to apply to computer games as well:

For some children, under some conditions, some television is harmful. For other children under the same conditions, or for the same children under other conditions, it may be beneficial. For most children, under most conditions.

“For some children, television is harmful under certain conditions. For other children under the same conditions or for the same children under other conditions, it may be useful. Most television programs are for most children, under most conditions likely neither harmful nor particularly useful. ” [9]

The Professional Association of German Psychologists (BDP) warned at the game fair Gamescom 2016 the influence of violent games containing ( “Killer Games”) to the violence of people. [10] For all the effects of media consumption (z. B. skill, concentration) to go naturally assume that an influence exists, but not in “killer games”. Here the erroneous opinion is spread that these do not have a causal influence on the willingness to resist. “Just as the advertising on the TV influences the buying behavior in the supermarket, killing and hurting in killer games affect thoughts, feelings and behaviors in real life. Experienced experiences in real life and in the media intensify each other and lead to a positive assessment of violence not only in the short term, but also in the long term “. [11] According to an expertise of media violence Commission of the International Society for research on aggression ( International Society for Research on Aggression ISRA ) there is scientific evidence of a link of Amoktaten and similar forms of extreme violence and “experience of violence in virtual reality, whether through Killerspiele Or by Horrorvideos “. [12]

Positive effects

The beneficial effects of video games include the training of spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic thinking and fine motor skills. [13] [14] Also, the attention and perception of visual details can be improved. Computer games, however, are not only interesting as a leisure activity for the consumers themselves; There are now targeted applications in medicine, for example for the treatment of dementia, pain or stroke patients, with some specially developed and partly “normal” games being tested. [15]

For the treatment of amblyopia , especially in childhood, a game has been designed, in which the well-known long-standing Anaglyph method for 3D stereoscopy is diverted to produce instead of a 3D impression a 2D image that just using both eyes Can be correctly recognized; A game progress is not possible if only the dominant eye is used. [16] [17] Conventional therapies are focused to date on the dominant eye off (eg. By eye patches or patch) to train the weak eye without the dominant.

Competitions and championships 

When electronic sports ( e-sports ) take players organized in clans in multiplayer mode of the individual computer games against each other in order to athletic compete or increasingly to pursue to financial interests. When mainly receiving prize money from the tournament games andsponsorships are sought, one speaks of the progaming . These teams then play frequently in leagues with. The most famous and biggest league in the German area is the ESL that Electronic Sports League in which the winner can win bonuses of up to € 500,000. Meanwhile, however, the prize money increase enormously, for example, there are at the CPL World Tour prize money of $ 1 million to win. International prestige and far preisgeldträchtigere tournaments are the Electronic Sports World Cup or the World Cyber Games . In addition to sports leagues, there are now championships in almost every genre of video games culture ( first person shooter , Construction Games, etc.).

Computer games as industry

Historical Development

During the time of home computers and video game consoles have an individual in the early 1980s, programmers could perform virtually all tasks of the production of a game, you (such. As needed today for commercial computer games due to the increased complexity of the technical progress and the higher claims To the finished product in general) teams of specialists for the individual areas.

Developers scene

Computer games / video games are created by game developers. While this may be individuals, but they are usually called. Studios ( Developer ), in which at least one game designer , producer , writer , graphic designer , programmer , level designer , sound designer , musician and game testerswork together in teams on the development of computer games. Among the best known developers include John Carmack , Sid Meier , Peter Molyneux , Will Wright , Shigeru Miyamoto , Yū Suzuki , Richard Garriott , Hideo Kojima , American McGee , Markus Persson , Chris Sawyer andWarren Spector . Most teams include 20 to 50 developers, but it can be over 100.

The average number of developers and the development time have increased with the growing importance of industry and increasingly complex technology. The production of a modern commercial game takes about one to three years and costs about one to 15 million US dollars. Production costs are often so-called publishers(comparable with book publishing houses ) supported selling the finished product later and marketing.

Especially in Japan the game industry differs quite strongly from that in Europe and the USA. Through the history of arcade games and the still higher popularity of console and arcade games over PC games in Japan were there other structures of game development. So many developers produce anonymously or under pseudonyms . Often the teams in Japan a dedicated designer ( Director called) and are much larger than in comparable games from other countries. Since it is also more difficult to produce games for consoles without the need for publishers for PCs, there are hardly any independent productions from Japan. In Europe and the USA, however, several independent studios have been formed.

Before the release of a computer game, it is a review by the entertainment software self-control subject (USK). This test is not a requirement, but it will be done on practically every new release, since the video game should only be accessible to adult buyers. This classification is marked by a clearly visible print on the packaging and the data carrier. Should the contents of the game violate the law (for example at glorifying war or the representation of suffering people in the human dignity hurtful way), the game can by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons are indexed (BPjM). To prevent this, games for the German market are often sold in a version “cut” opposite the international version.

Despite the great popularity of computer games, employment in this industry is still very uncertain. Many developer studios develop, develop individual games and disappear quickly from the market. For this reason, it is observed that the developers increasingly accumulate in certain geographic areas in order to connect quickly to neighboring studios or even to found new teams. Only around five percent of all computer games earn profits. Several productions are not finished and never released. This is why there may be experienced game developers whose work has never been known to the public.

Game developers organize themselves at the international level in the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and have in Germany for Association of Developers of Computer Games ( GAME ) together. Other associations for advocacy, the Entertainment Software Association in the United States and the Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Softwarein Germany.

The largest trade fair is the E3 Media and Business Summit (formerly Electronic Entertainment Expo , also E3) held annually in Los Angeles takes place. The visit is reserved for trade visitors. In Europe, the Games Convention in Leipzig with more than 100,000 visitors annually, the largest trade fair for computer games, since 2009 it has been on the Gamescom on theCologne replaced fairgrounds. Game developers present every year at the Game Developers Conference , the latest developments and exchange information on emerging technologies.

Sales and revenues in Germany

Sold data and downloads and sales for computer and video games in Germany:

year Sold volumes
and Downloads
2014 84.2 million units 1,723 million euros
2013 69.5 million units 1,470 million euros
2012 73.7 million units 1,501 million euros
2011 70.9 million units 1,574 million euros
2010 71.1 million units 1,591 million euros
2009 68.4 million units 1,605 million euros
2008 70.2 million units 1,642 million euros

Source: BIU

According to the industry association GAME, the market for computer games in Germany is the largest in Europe with a turnover of 2.66 billion in 2013. [18] [A 1]

Worldwide sales

The following table shows the five largest video game markets in terms of sales for the year 2016 is. [19]

No. country sales
1  China 24.37 billion $
2  USA 23.6 billion $
3  Japan 12.45 billion $
4  South Korea 4.05 billion $
5  Germany 4.02 billion $


Almost all computer games define the goal of the game through formalized criteria for success as a point count ( high score ) or the achievement of predefined performance criteria victory.Some games also offer game modes in which no target has been defined and the game can be continued as desired, or only ended by a failure (endless play). Examples include life simulations and non-games .


Modern computer games deal with very different contents; some also refer to other media . Whenever elements or entire worlds from popular films such as made are Blade Runner , theJames Bond , – Star Trek – and Star Wars serials accepted and increasingly from computer games transferred to other media – such as film versions of Tomb Raider , Resident Evil andDoom .


Although there are many different types of computer games, is within the scientific debate no clearly defined categorization possible. One differentiates between many genres that are more on one side semiotic based schemes (such as action-adventure ), on the other hand, the mechanisms and the used interface describe (for example, first-person shooter ). So there are many computer games that can be assigned to several genres, and therefore an integration is difficult. Some genres are very well known, others less.

Among the best known genres counts since the mid-1990s, the first-person shooter or first-person shooter , in which the virtual game world is presented from the first-person perspective and the most has the responsive shooting virtual enemies for content (see Ask ). Other major genres are the Adventure , in which often puzzles are set in the history and responsiveness compared with the reflection fades into the background; Strategy games , where there is time to develop a base, collect resources, raise an army, or the like and thus strategically tackle his opponent; Role playing , in which it is important above all to the specific form of the skills of a virtual character and platformers Run games in which to play figure leaping and bounding moves and precise jumping is an essential part of the playful action. Another genre that is closely linked to the development of computers, are various simulations, such as flight simulators, which are also partly used professionally. This includes economic simulations , in which the highest possible profits must be earned. In sports games , a virtual sports situations must be mastered by skill at the interface.

See also : list of computer games by Genre


The user interacts via a computer with other players or artificial pawns by entering via mouse , keyboard , gamepad or increasingly via gesture control and normally receives a screenreactions. He often controls a virtual character as a substitute through a predefined world. In this one, depending on the game, he can move freely to different degrees. The game developer has previously defined rules and goals. These rules must comply with the player (see also cheat ) to achieve the goal. A quality feature for computer games is often the freedom of action.

The player with the computer in the mutual sequential action single player or a computer with other players in multiplayer mode is fundamental for the computer game, which is why it unlike for example, the television , the film or book as interactive can denote medium.

Single player

Computer games are mostly played in the so-called single player mode. The game situation is influenced only by the player himself and the computer. The actions and reactions of the opponent, often bots called, are calculated by the computer. The level of artificial intelligence of non-player characters is often a quality criterion in games with single player mode and with the development of computer technology it progresses further and further away. Scores may take the form of savegames are stored to resume them later or to send to others.


Many computer games also support the so-called multiplayer mode , in which several human players or compared with each other (eg. As co-op play). The game is played either on the same computer (with simultaneous game often using the split screen technique or alternately via hotseat scheme) or via networked devices: About the Internet or a local area network (to a greater extent on LAN parties , Where many like-minded people network their computers together). The multi-player mode allows a direct comparison of the play skills and thus enables the sporty measurement of the performance. This sporting contest with computer games is called e-sports . Examples of such games are: League of Legends , Unreal Tournament , Warcraft 3and Counter-Strike .

Online games with high player number (MMO or MMORPG)

On the Internet, it is possible to involve many players in a computer game. Here the actual game runs on a server and each user can participate from a remote computer from this half. The most important form of online games are the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games , short MMORPGs , where thousands of players a RPG game. In addition to the purchase price for the game are often running costs for the use of the servers. These regular costs are an important source of income for the operators of such games. MMORPGs have, according to a study for the German-speaking countries, a certain addictive , as the player his game pace can not decide. [20] This often leads to an enormous amount of time for the development of the virtual character. The most successful MMORPG is World of Warcraft , which the world’s 12-million in September 2010 account exceeded limit.


Computer games are input devices controlled. The computer processes the data and calculated using the so-called game engine responses on output devices are issued.


As platform includes some sort of hardware and / or software that is the basis for the software to run. You can choose between static platforms such as specially developed game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System or the PlayStation differ and generic platforms such as PCs and mobile phones that change sometimes strongly. Most popular game console ever considering sales with Stand 2014, PlayStation 2 from Sony .

Current game consoles are the PlayStation 4 from Sony, the Xbox One from Microsoft and the Wii U by Nintendo . In addition, a market for portable devices such as exists Game Boy series and the later following Nintendo DS from Nintendo and the PSP or Vita from Sony. Used to be the mobile computer game exclusively the domain of these handheld consoles , so today we find more and more PDAs and mobile phones or smartphones , in addition to its core functions also have a games support. The personal computer is still very popular, especially in Germany as a platform for video games.


Game engines (Engl. Game Engines ) are programs that provide game developers frequently used tools are available and can be understood as a technical core of a computer game. They allow the visualization of 3D objects, effects such as explosions and mirroring, the calculation of the physical behavior of objects in the game, access to input devices such as the mouse and keyboard and the playing of music.

In the production of a computer game either a new game engine is programmed – until the mid-1990s this was almost always the case – or an already existing licensed and possibly modified, which can shorten the production period. Known commercial Engines are the Unreal Engine from Epic Games , the CryEngine the German developer Crytek and the Source Engine from Valve , known free engines are the Quake engine from id Software and their descendants. There is almost always to the game engines editors – programs that you own without professional programming skills levels can generate. These are primarily the extension and modification of commercial games, see mods used.


Various data carriers for computer games

Usually, the input is done manually with the keyboard and / or mouse, or – particularly in game consoles – the gamepad . In the 1980s, other input devices such as were still paddles and joysticks circulated. Games with voice commands have due to the error rate of the speech recognition not been enforced. The feet are rarely, especially in car racing games used with corresponding pedals for controlling the accelerator and brake. Also, some less common devices such as these are still PC Dash and the Strategic Commander usable. Various attempts have been made to market games which are responsive to the body movement of the player, for example by pressure sensors in rubber mats or by evaluation of a camera image. These plays set long time a niche product. It is only with the widespread use of the Wii console from Nintendo established this kind of control.The Controller has a motion sensor , the position and movement of people in the room, then by arm movements a game character can be controlled.

Optical output

One can roughly between mechanized Text in Text mode , 2D and 3D computer graphics differ. It has its own aesthetics of computer games developed an own pictorial language . The first computer games were monochrome and marked by text or block graphic . With the availability of ever better GPUs the imagery became more colorful and complex.

The typical game display now shows the player as Avatar in the image, or directly his own view, the first-person view ( first person view ), for example, in the first-person shooter , similar to the subjective camera in the film. Given all its displays, scores, messages such as health or mission objectives appear in the image (usually in the form of a head-up display / HUD). The visual information output can my monitor , display or television done and in conjunction with a 3D glasses , even a three-dimensional experience are generated.

Acoustic output

Acoustic signals, effects and spoken text are used to an increasing extent and with ever-improving quality in computer games. From the formerly predominantly atmospheric importance, they have developed into an important source of information for the player (for example, for spatial location and orientation within the game). Especially in multiplayer games get acoustic information through the use of headsets that allow a quick and easy communication between team members, is becoming increasingly important. In Germany, the language output of imported computer games is more and more synchronized as professionally as in the case of Kinofilmen. Mostly, in the localization resorted to already known from other media speaker voices.

Particular importance has the music in games : Initially introduced as mere accompaniment to the game scene, it now occupies a similar role in films: It is used to increase the drama and to lead the game scenic. Short, memorable melody sets are often used, which do not get boring even after frequent listening. The range of quality requirements is great: professional game developers today employ their own composers, which focus entirely on creating the music. Today, the project is simply added to the project as a finished audio track in standard data formats. PC games provide the user with freely accessible data folders the possibility to exchange unloved pieces of music or noise and adapt to their own tastes. This is only possible if standard formats such as Wave , MP3 , MIDI , or other enhancements and the game of programmers site was not integrated into a single executable file.

During the first teleplays of the 1980s, the music developers also had to have extensive programming expertise in order to integrate their score material into the program.

Mechanical output

In addition to the optical and acoustic output, the mechanical offers a further possibility for interaction. The so-called force feedback technology allows the output of mechanical effects in response to forces applied to the character. This technique is primarily used in steering wheels for driving games , joysticks for flight simulations and gamepads used as well as mouse buttons. If, for example, the player is driving against an obstacle with the racing car, he feels a counter-movement on the steering wheel.

Compared with other media, art forms

The computer game is characterized by substantial differences, but also by essential similarities to other media and art forms. The two essential elements of a computer game are the image and the interactivity. The first is to be found in film as well as in painting and drawing, the second in experimental theater. [21]

More and more, the international connectivity of computer games is one of its essential features. Often the computer game borrows other elements from other media and develops them in its own context, such as the story, borrowed from the drama, the film and the literature or the music and, even in a completely new way, the drama itself found about in Black & White ,Deus Ex , World of Warcraft , The Sims , Dungeon keeper , Baldur’s gate  2, Fahrenheit , Monkey Iceland 3 etc.

In February 2008, spoke Olaf Zimmermann from the German Cultural Council advocates that even computer game developers would recognize as an artist. [22] Hans-Joachim Otto , Chairman of the Committee for Culture and Media of the German Bundestag, Zimmermann agreed in an interview, explaining that developing games requires a high degree of creative and artistic work. [23]

In an indexing by BPjM the concept of art is often seen as not as important as the youth endangerment. [24]


Social impact

The impact of violence in computer games are a matter of controversy. The main focus is on how violence is played and shown in games, its impact on the personality development of computer-playing children and adolescents, and a possible connection between virtual and real violence, ie violence in computer games, people with a receptive personality structure Makes it more aggressive and / or more violent in real life.

Through various studies, some of which have already been carried out since the middle of the 1980s, researchers are investigating whether the excessive consumption of violent computer games can have an impact on consumer stamina. Other aspects, such as the social background and the nature of the environment, play a role. Recent analysis by functional MRI suggest that the brain activity in the lower left frontal lobe even after a week even diminished response in Stroop test points to violence. A group of 14 men and a control group of the same size were tested. A lack of the study, however, is that the control group played no computer game. The question arises whether a realistic control group, which would have played a non-violent computer game, did not produce similar results as in the group confronted with violent computer games. [25]


Scientifically is the risk of addiction in excessive pointed computer games. In computer games, for example, the reward system in the brain is constantly activated again to keep the player at play. In practice, a lot of small tasks have to be solved in a computer game, which, in contrast to real life, can almost always be done in a very short time to the satisfaction of the player.The player then experiences a negative emotional state when the game is finished, which he tries to prevent by playing further.

Game developers give to partially open, that such relationships are known and are deliberately exploited in order to maintain the enthusiasm of the game for a long time as possible as high as possible and thus to generate as much revenue.

In South Korea there were 2002 first known death due to uninterrupted computer gaming. A 24-year-old broke after 86 hours without sleep and food intake in front of a computer in anInternet café together. After he had apparently recovered from the collapse, the alarmed police found him dead a short time later on the toilet of a PC Bangs . [26]