Remember those Nintendo TV adverts from a couple of years ago? You know, the ones with the celebrities who had suddenly discovered that playing Brain Training was far more exciting than going to red-carpet parties? They confirmed what most people already knew: video games have escaped from the bedrooms of surly adolescents and become mainstream entertainment. These days, gaming is for everyone – even Helen Mirren and Patrick Stewart.
You’ll find a game to enjoy whatever your interest; it doesn’t matter whether you want to while away five minutes solving puzzles or dedicate a whole weekend to liberating the world from alien invasion. And you don’t need to invest hundreds of pounds in a dedicated games console to get started. In fact, modern Advent laptops and desktops can match the power of the current generation of games consoles, and will often blow them away entirely…
Playing the latest games on your PC is as simple as firing up your web browser. The web is jam-packed with sites on which you can play simple, addictive games for free. Try Miniclip for starters. These games will run on more or less any PC, though you will need an internet connection.
Talking of the web, you might even find your browser software comes with games included. Google Chrome, for instance, has popular puzzle titles such as Bejeweled and Angry Birds pre-installed. And, if you’re a fan of Facebook, you’ll probably already be familiar with its legion of ‘just-one-more-go’ social games, such as perennial favourite Farmville.
Many games can be played through your web browser, like Farmville on Facebook
But what about the big-name titles? Many of these – such as the Call of Duty series – are developed with budgets comparable to a Hollywood blockbuster movie, and they offer a thrill-a-minute experience to match. You’ll normally need to install these games directly onto your PC in order to play them. For many people, that will mean buying the physical game disc – although you can install most commercial titles direct from the web. The Steam website leads the way in terms of such services, but you can also download titles from well-known high street stores such as PC World.
Download the latest games for your Advent PC from the PC World Games Centre.
There are other options too, including websites that enable you to play high-powered games through your browser. These sites, such as OnLive, run the games remotely, so you can play at home on a machine that might not otherwise be capable of full-scale PC gaming.
Pick your passion
One of your toughest gaming challenges might be deciding what to play – there are thousands of titles to choose from. Some of the most popular genres include:
- Puzzle – The king of all puzzlers is still Tetris, with its endless falling blocks. However, physics-based titles, such as the excellent Angry Birds (£9.99), have become increasingly popular.
- Sport – By now, any sport you can name has had the video game treatment – even the likes of snooker and darts have their gaming equivalents. Motor racing titles are enormously popular, but the daddy of all sports titles is the FIFA series, an increasingly lifelike football simulator. FIFA 12 (£12.97) is the current release, though its sequel is out at the end of September.
- First-person shooter – More commonly known as FPS, the first-person shooter genre equips you with an (often bewildering) array of heavy weaponry and gets you to shoot first, ask questions later (or, more often, just keep shooting). Current king of the shooters is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (£27.97).
- Role-playing game – You’ll see this genre more commonly referred to as RPG. Popular titles include Diablo III and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (£24.97). RPGs revolve around exploring large game worlds and increasing your character’s statistics to make them increasingly powerful.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is just one of many visually immersive games out there
- Action/adventure – If it involves running, jumping and the odd bit of puzzle-solving, it’s an action-adventure. Tomb Raider pretty much started it all; Batman: Arkham City (£14.97) is one of the latest.
- Strategy – A hugely popular genre on PCs in particular, strategy games are all about testing your mind and your decision-making skills. Starcraft II (£26.51) tasks you with colonising space and battling other races along the way.
- Simulators – If you can think of it, there’s a PC simulator for it. The Sims 3 (£36.99) is a chart-topping ‘real life’ sim, but there’s truly something for everyone in this genre. Should you wish, you can even opt for the more niche charms of Garbage Truck Simulator.
- Getting social – Playing against computer opposition is one thing, but you get a whole different kind of challenge when testing your wits against human opponents. Many games now offer an online mode, where you can play against friends (or complete strangers) over the internet. If your computers are connected to a home network, you can also play against your family and friends locally.
But if you’ve got children, don’t forget that some games won’t be suitable. Games are now subject to the same age classification as films, and titles such as the latest Call of Duty are rated 18 for good reason. The User Accounts and Family Safety features in Windows can help you limit how much computer time children have, as well as which programs and games they can use (and, perhaps more importantly, how long they can use them for) - click here for our guide.
Set parental controls to prevent your children from playing unsuitable games
Fire it up
OK, so you’re ready to hit the start button, but is your current PC up to scratch? Any modern computer will handle web-based games without breaking sweat. It’s here that laptops are the perfect choice. Portables such as Advent’s Monza S200 (£349.99) – with its dual-core processor , 6GB RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics card – are great for gaming on the move. However, these kind of systems aren’t ideal for playing the latest releases.
For the optimum gaming experience, you’ll need a powerful desktop machine that offers some serious grunt. The Advent DT 2315 (£899.99) has a super-fast Intel Core i7 processor , 16GB RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 7750 graphics card – making it capable of tearing through even the most recent games. As well as raw power, the other great benefit offered by a desktop is that it’s more easily upgradeable. Installing a new (or additional) graphics card can reap great rewards in terms of performance.
Advent’s DT2315 contains all the raw power you need to play even the most demanding of games