Following a record few years of growth and development, the popularity of digital gaming is now at an all-time high. At the end of 2021, the global gaming industry was worth over $180 billion and had amassed a gaming audience of three billion people. With plenty of exciting new gaming experiences on the horizon, now is the perfect time to get started with digital gaming on the PC.
If you’re a console or smartphone gamer, or you’re dipping your toes into the joyful world of digital gaming for the first time, here’s everything you need to know about what and how to play on the PC.
The Right Hardware
Dekstop gaming offers a lot more versatility than console gaming and, as a result, there is all manner of hardware to choose from. Gaming rigs can be some of the most sophisticated – and expensive – of PCs, but as a newbie to this world, you don’t need to go out and invest in the priciest machine to start with.
The key things to look for in a gaming PC are a solid graphics card (GPU) and processor (CPU), ample storage and adequate RAM capabilities. Keep an eye out for processors from AMD or Intel and GPUs from Nvidia.
Gaming laptops can also be a cost-effective option for novice gamers, and there’s plenty of choice on the market in terms of price. High-spec gaming models run into the thousands, but Dell and Lenovo are two manufacturers that both offer affordable – and impressive – entry-level models.
Peripherals refer to items like gaming monitors and keyboards etc. In most cases, it’s not necessary to overspend on extras, but a few well-chosen peripherals are essential to an enjoyable gaming experience.
Let’s start with monitors. For gaming, the main thing to be concerned with is refresh rate, which is measured in Hertz. This determines the maximum frame rate the screen can display – a 60 Hz monitor tops at 60 frames per second (FPS), for example. The greater the maximum frame rate, the smoother your gaming experience will be.
As for gaming keyboards and mice, if you plan to be spending upwards of 30 minutes per gaming session, it is worth investing in ergonomic, gaming-specific models. Being designed for gaming, such items feature lower input lag, programmable keys/buttons, and increased accuracy.
For certain games, you might also want to look at a gaming controller, particularly if you intend to play third-person action games or driving simulators.
A Brief Look at Gaming Genres
There are so many gaming genres available nowadays that it would be impossible to list them all in one article. However, suffice to say if you have an interest, hobby, or passion, you’ll be able to find a ton of games to play on the PC.
In general, you can categorize digital PC games into the following:
Story-Driven – offering a more cinematic experience on the small-screen, story-driven games allow players to move at their own pace, interacting with their environments and letting the story play out.
Example: What Remains of Edith Finch
Choice-Driven – although featuring a narrative at their core, choice-driven games provide different outcomes based on the choices a player makes throughout.
Example: Life is Strange
Point and Click – the simplest of all gaming genres, p&c games do exactly what their name suggests. Games in this genre often cross over with other genres, such as adventure or action games, but they all feature the point and click the element.
Example: Broken Age
Action Games – whether first-person shooters, arcade fighting games, or the latest vertical on the block, battle royale, action games deliver adrenaline-pumping gameplay.
Example: Resident Evil 4
Real Money Games – ranging from casino classics belonging to the iGaming vertical to the latest NFT-integrated play-to-earn games, real money games allow players to compete for or earn rewards with a monetary value.
Example: Online Roulette
Where to Find Games
Gone are the days of heading out to purchase games on CD-Rom. Instead, digital games can all be purchased, streamed, and played online.
For top gaming titles, Virtual Reality, and other niche gaming genres, Valve’s Steam is arguably the most well-regarded in the gaming world. The Steam store is effectively an online shop for games; you create a login, install the app onto your desktop and start purchasing and streaming games. It’s also home to a large, global gaming community, making it a very welcoming place for newbies.
Online casino platforms from reputable operators like PokerStars Casino are generally the best places to find real money games. In addition to providing licensed and independently-audited games, these platforms also offer gaming resources such as dos and don’ts for slots gaming and strategy tips for card and table games.
Although Steam has the largest market share for most games, Epic Games and Ubisoft are two development companies that have recently launched their own online store. The Epic Games Store has exclusive rights to games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2, plus it’s the only platform on which you can play Fornite on the PC.
The exclusive content available on Ubisoft Connect, meanwhile, includes Far Cry 6 and several titles in the Tom Clancy series.
For indie, classic, or niche games, GOG.com and itch.io are the platforms to check out.
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