Video games are computer- or microprocessor-controlled games. Computers can create virtual spaces for a wide variety of game types. Some video games simulate conventional game objects like cards or dice, while others can simulate environs either grounded in reality or fantastical in design, each with its own set of rules or goals.
A computer or video game uses one or more input devices, typically a button/joystick combination (on arcade games); a keyboard, mouse and/or trackball (computer games); or a controller or a motion sensitive tool. (console games). More esoteric devices such as paddle controllers have also been used for input. In computer games, the evolution of user interfaces from simple keyboard to mouse, joystick or joypad has profoundly changed the nature of game development.
There are many genres of video game; the first commercial video game, Pong, was a simple simulation of table tennis. As processing power increased, new genres such as adventure and action games were developed that involved a player guiding a character from a third person perspective through a series of obstacles. This “real-time” element cannot be easily reproduced by a board game, which is generally limited to “turn-based” strategy; this advantage allows video games to simulate situations such as combat more realistically. Additionally, the playing of a video game does not require the same physical skill, strength and/or danger as a real-world representation of the game, and can provide either very realistic, exaggerated or impossible physics, allowing for elements of a fantastical nature, games involving physical violence, or simulations of sports. Lastly, a computer can, with varying degrees of success, simulate one or more human opponents in traditional table games such as chess, leading to simulations of such games that can be played by a single player.
In more open-ended computer simulations, also known as sandbox-style games, the game provides a virtual environment in which the player may be free to do whatever they like within the confines of this universe. Sometimes, there is a lack of goals or opposition, which has stirred some debate on whether these should be considered “games” or “toys”. (Crawford specifically mentions Will Wright’s SimCity as an example of a toy.)
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