Monday, January 05, 2009

Arcade Games

Arcade games are coin operated pay-per-play gaming machines, they are usually found in arcades, or places where it is likely that those interested in them (predominantly young males) will congregate (shopping malls, swimming baths, bars, tourist destinations, and leisure centers). There are three main types of arcade games, which are object moving games (OMGs); video arcade games (VAGs) and quiz machines.

OMGs do not usually have any kind of video output, as the games involve physical movement of objects or pieces within the game, usually through an input device such as a joystick. Modern OMGs are considered computer games, as at least part of the game is controlled by a microprocessor, even if it is only a minor game element such as a score board or musical sound effects. Common examples of OMGs are: pinball machines; ‘claw grabber’ machines; foosball; coin-push machines; and shooting galleries. The ancestors of today’s OMGs pre-date video based arcade games by over 40 years.

Video arcade games (VAGs) are computer games that are built into large cases whereby the user stands or sits at the machine, and uses in-built input devices such as joysticks or guns to manipulate graphics on the screen. The first popular VAG was ‘Pong’ in 1972, although this was the third coin operated VAG released after ‘The Galaxy Game’ and ‘Computer Space’. Pong was based upon table tennis, it was a black and white game that involved the player ‘bouncing’ a moving ‘ball’ across the screen where it was deflected by either a computer controlled opponent or a second player. Every successful player deflection of the ball accrued a score, and it was the competitiveness of this game that made it so popular.

Since Pong numerous classic VAG titles have been released including: Space Invaders; Asteroids; Pac-Man; and Frogger, all of which have since been developed into console games as well as other forms of computer games. Many current VAGs are based upon console games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Tombraider’. In the early days Atari Inc. Lead the market with VAG development, although today, there are numerous competitors.

Quiz machines are aimed at the adult market, and as a consequence are often found in bars. One machine can commonly offer a number of game formats, including quizzes based upon: TV programmes such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’; board games such as ‘Monopoly’; and music quiz machines. In quiz machines cash prizes can be payable to those who gain high scores through answering questions correctly.

In recent years there has been a slow-down in arcade game usage, due to the availability of console, PC, and online gaming alternatives. The arcade game sector will continue to decline as gaming competition increases, including the introduction of social mobile gaming, which allows players to game with friends who are both in close proximity or geographically dispersed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Big Flat Screen TVs and Cheap Beer - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As the new-year kicks in, retailers are responding in the usual way with highly publicised ‘Sales’ some of which seem good, and some of which seem not so good. One particularly good deal is the LG 42LG3000 LCD TV reduced from £999 to £549 at Currys. Just a couple of years ago, flat screen TVs of this kind were selling in excess of £2,000, but as with many consumer technology products, prices fall and features increase. As it was time for an upgrade in the Moss household, a purchase of one was made. I’m not really an ‘expert’ on these things, but the picture at 1080p is superb, the best I’ve ever seen on a TV, disappointingly it only has two SCART inputs, but with the rise of high definition (HD) SCART is now way past it’s sell by date anyway. One particularly nice feature is a USB input, so a USB memory stick can be plugged into the TV, and if the memory stick contains MP3 or graphic files, they can be read and played through the TV. I browsed through a folder of .JPG photos from the USB input very easily, and will be making good use of this feature in future. Another nice feature is the ability to send an image to the TV via Bluetooth, something that is novel and may prove to be useful, especially for showing off the odd phone photo.

The one problem I did experience was getting my Sky+ remote control to work with the LG TV due to its newness. Thankfully, after several days searching the web, a solution was found – and I’ll share that now to avoid others the same frustration. These are the instructions for a Sky+ Rev8 remote, like this one.

  1. Press the TV button.
  2. Hold down the red button and the select button together, until the red light on the remote blinks twice (approx 1.5 seconds later).
  3. Press the TV button again.
  4. Enter the code 1174.
  5. Try turning the TV on / off – if this works press select, and you’re done, if not try again, if still no good, try again avoiding the third step, if that still doesn’t work – SORRY.

A nice piece of New Year cheer is the announcement by JD Wetherspoon, that in this age of mass panic about spending money, (thanks to the media, and their idiot phrase the ‘credit crunch’) that the price of a bottle of San Miguel will be reduced to 99p, as will the price of a pint of Greene King IPA. This is being promoted as a long term offer, and not a short-term knee jerk reaction to the countless resolutions of having a healthier new year (before they’re broken!). Cheers Wetherspoons, I’ll be drinking to that at ‘The Curry Club’ next Thursday. 

Happy New Year folks!