Tech Geek 16 February 2010

Computer Gaming

Many people ask me what I do for fun. The answer is not as common as one may think. I like to play games online. I like to play multiplayer games that your spouses and children may play. The computer can be a very fun place to visit. Since the dawn of the internet connection, which actually goes back to the early 80’s, one of the most widely used application was video game access. I remember, back in the 80’s, using a telephone like modem to access games from a service called CompuServe. If my memory serves me, the cost of this service was $12.95 per hour. Obviously that was not something that I did very often. But the online gaming world had begun. Years later, I rediscovered the internet when the costs came down drastically. I believe when I rejoined the connected word, the price averaged $2.95 per hour. That was with AOL. I played occasionally, but preferred the whole internet browsing thing. Prices still were too high to utilize this as my social life was far too important to me. I would rather be out in the world then home browsing the virtual one.

Move forward to 1998, the year I moved to Florida. The internet became a part of my life then and has yet to be disconnected. With the internet prices down, dial-up was affordable. 20 bucks a month. Not too bad. We found the internet to be both a haven of information as well as a source of relief from the daily stresses of life. 2002, I discovered cable modem access. My speeds went from tortoise to hare in seconds. That was the moment of clarity for my online gaming endeavors. Not only can one play board and parlor games online, one can play PC games of all sorts against other people around the world. That was the beginning of a hobby that not only I entertain, but my husband and son do as well. Both of our systems are gaming systems. That means we built them from the ground up putting video cards, Mother Boards, RAM, sound cards, and the most important item, liquid and fan cooling. You may wonder why we dedicate our time and energy to this hobby. Well, it is just plain fun.

Some of you may wonder how does this affect my family. Considering that my 8-year-old is fully capable of utilizing a computer and put together a Power Point presentation, unaided, could say something. Not only does he know the software of the computer, but he is fully aware of the hardware and the inner workings of the computer. He has been on a computer since the age of 3. My younger one since 4. They both have their own laptops and have certain things they must do before playing any games. There is an excellent website out there called www.starfall.com. This is a free site dedicated to the early learning of reading and phonics. My oldest would go through this site and learn different things as well as supplies that were purchased through the Starfall site to enhance the learning experience. I partially credit that site with my son’s penchant for reading. As a hands on mom, I believe we are responsible for much of our children’s’ education. We need to provide them with some basis for learning prior to the beginning of school. As a reward, my boys both had the ability to play games on pre approved sites. They only were taught what sites they could visit.

You may ask about internet safety. I think that also belongs to the parents. There are a plethora of sites dedicated to the teaching of internet safety. My oldest has that lesson twice a year, as redundant as it is, he knows the importance. There are several items on the market as well for parental controls for free as well as for money. I do not have a need for this on my older son’s system. He knows where and where he cannot go. I trust that he makes the right choice. There are no computers in the bedroom, so the centrally located computers make for a constantly supervised environment. He still has to ask permission to play and he is limited to the time he spends. He is required to spend at least 2 hours on personal reading every day. I lessen it to an hour a day on school days. I will have to admit, he does like to use my Kindle, an electronic reader. I guess technology never seems to leave us.


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