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Online Games – Cyber Recreation

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Online games need not be a total waste of time. It just depends on how long you spend playing them and which games you choose. About thirty years ago I borrowed an old PC and used to pass some time playing a text only turn based game. Make the right choice and you moved on a step, or make the wrong choice and it triggered a shrill alarm. Later, I while away an hour here and there with an Amiga flight sim. I forget the name but this was in the 1990s so you can imagine what it looked like by today’s standards.

Playing games online may seem like a waste of precious time, and too much of it probably is, but for many it’s a form of recreation that may appear pointless but has benefits. Like all recreation it’s a chance to switch off from the mundane, the news, and the stresses of the job and allow the brain a little rest and recreation doing something harmless.

Learning a new skill with online games

When I was out of work I would practice touch typing using Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. First released in 1987 it has been continuously updated ever since and continues to improve the typing skills of countless keyboard users. The ability to type while looking at the screen instead of the keyboard was the most useful basic skill of my IT career. Thirty or so years later I still struggle a little with the numbers but at least I can type all this without looking down.

Some free online game sites also contain many of these typing tutorials and if you’ve half a mind to improve your typing speed then start practising. The time it saves you month after month adds up to quite a lot and prevents a great deal of frustration when you have a deadline for 1,000 words.

Flight Sims

After my first experiments with PCs and only games I gradually acquired more hardware was able to try some of the increasingly sophisticated games and flight sims, but I always seemed to be one step behind when it came to the optimal PC for the task. As anyone who has used several versions of Microsoft’s Flight Sim will know it requires a lot of memory and processing power to create a smooth and realistic experience.

With a PC that wasn’t up to the task I regretted my flight sim purchases and made do with games that drew on my childhood enjoyment of Airfix models , like Sudden Strike, but eventually they too ended up in the bag for the charity shop. Time to put away childish things, it seemed.

Not only that, but having learned to fly and gained a Private Pilot’s Licence I found the flight sims of the day to be a poor substitute for the real thing. I just didn’t get much enjoyment out of flying around cyber generated landscapes. I kept hoping that the next release would do the trick, so like a fool with his money I bought the next version, and the next version after that until I eventually realised I was wasting time and money.

The flight sims of today are very sophisticated and with the right accessories you can set up home cockpit that will provide you with the means to improve some of the skills required to fly a real aircraft. However, if you just want to faff about and while away a few minutes playing an online aviation game for fun then there are plenty from which to choose.

Online Games – Nostalgia

Do you remember Minesweeper? Do you still play Patience? Some games stand the test of time and players play the same games for years, perhaps decades. People who used to (or still do) play the games on a board may, if they are new to computers, learn to play them online with friends, family, or complete strangers.

For some there is a comfort in the familiarity of a game that reminds them of home and family life. Board games like Scrabble and chess translate easily into online games that anyone with rudimentary computer skills can play because they know what to look for on screen and their curiousity is the catalyst for learning, even if they distrust computers and the internet.

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