A-Z of Computing: G is for Gaming

Your child has been playing quite happily on the gaming apps on their tablet, but one day they come to you and say they need a better PC as they can’t play any “proper” games on it. Help!

Games come in all sorts – from educational puzzle solving, to the more grown up Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto. They are rated in a similar way to films – 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18, to help you judge what may be suitable for your child. They should also include descriptors on the back of the packaging, to identify why the rating was applied, including Bad Language, Discrimination, Drugs, Fear, Gambling, Sex, Violence – and Online Gameplay to indicate it can be played online. For more information on ratings please see www.pegi.info.


Games for consoles are easy to identify, but make sure you don’t confuse your XBox with your XBox One, as older consoles will not be able to play the newest games, and sometimes vice versa. As long as what it says on the box matches what you have at home (including required accessories, such as the motion sensor Kinect – Kinect based games will not work without it), then you should be ok. When it comes to PCs though, some games require more computing power than others.

Generally speaking (this information may go out of date as soon as I type it!) you will need a PC with at least 4GB RAM and a 2.0GHz or higher processor – preferably quad-core or more. Individual games should indicate the minimum specification required to run them – but this is a minimum level. To make the most of the gameplay and incredible graphics that they feature, you will need more memory, a high speed processor and a dedicated graphics card. This is a component that plugs into your motherboard, with special memory chips whose sole job is to process graphics. Adding more memory and a graphics card to your existing desktop PC (sorry laptop owners!) is the easiest way to update it to be game ready – graphics cards start at around £40, and can go up to hundreds of pounds, but you want one with at least GDDR3 or GDDR5 video RAM that supports DirectX 11.

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