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Can FPS Games
Cause Brain Damage?

FPS games have millions of fans but they also have their fair share of critics.

These critics usually claim that that the first-person perspective adds a level of imitatable realism to the act of killing and (because of this) that FPS desensitises gamers to this sort of behavior.

This argument garnered a brief burst of credibility in 1999 when it emerged that the two teenagers involved in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, USA were both fans of the Doom FPS game (one of them had even created and published a set of Doom levels on his web site).

Against this, though, others have argued that loose gun laws played a much bigger role in the tragedy than what two disturbed teenagers chose to do with their spare time.

In addition, extensive studies carried out by psychologists around the world over the last few decades have yet to provide any conclusive evidence of any link between gaming and social behaviour.

What is better recognised - though still not very well understood - is that video gaming addiction is a very real type of psychological addiction that can affect people of all ages and from all walks of life.

It's usually characterised by compulsive use of video games (often with high Net use) and with a parallel withdrawal from normal social interactions.

Fortunately it's usually also pretty easy to cure (for most balanced people, anyway, who haven't yet progressed to having a cripplingly severe addiction).

And that can be accomplished by simply turning the game off and leaving it severely alone for a few weeks or months until normal perspective returns.

Other FPS Games Resources

First Person Shooter Games
Background: The First Person Shooter (FPS) games genre was first recognised in the early 1990s when Wolfenstein 3D became a world-wide smash hit for its developers id Software. But remarkable as it sounds, the ancestors of FPS games can actually be traced all the way back to the early 1970s (Maze War was probably the first FPS, and it went into development in 1973).

As the name suggests, FPS games are distinguished from other types of shooting games by a first person perspective which renders the game world from the visual perspective of the player's character.

This can provide a very gripping (in act, often quite thrilling!) immersive gaming environment, even though the objects of FPS games (ie shoot the heck out of everything) and most of the genre's conventions have changed very little since Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake first carved out the FPS landscape in the early to mid-1990s.

Contemporary FPS games usually offer vastly improved graphics over the 1990s versions; and most also offer the ability to compete against other people over the Net. This has led to the creation of numerous gaming fan sites and - for very popular games - lots of add-ons developed by the fans themselves (for example, extra maps, weapons etc).

The drawback of modern FPS games is that they usually involve big downloads (250 Mb to 1Gb+ isn't uncommon). This is a far cry from the couple of 1.44Mb floppies that Wolfenstein 3D occupied in 1992. And some of the most popular ones only run in multi-player mode, so you can't just settle down for a solo shoot-em-up when it suits you either.

But against this, most FPS games run fairly seamlessly on most contemporary PCs and don't require much in the way of specialised gaming equipment (though of course the more souped up your machine is, the faster and better the more graphics-intensive games fly). Many modern FPS games also run equally well on Linux and Mac as well as Windows.

All this being so, if you want to burn a bit of spare time with some pulse-pounding, adrenalin-charged action these brilliant - and completely free - FPS games can have you on the edge of your seat for anything from a few hours to literally days, weeks or months:


Popular First Person Shooters
Wolfenstein Enemy Territory
Wolfenstein 3D was a world-wide smash hit for id Software when it was first released in 1992. And if you ever played it, Wolfenstein Enemy Territory (which was released in 2003) is a worthy successor. In the new Wolfenstein, you can play as an Axis or Allied soldier and battle your way through any of six different campaigns in Europe or North Africa. And you can either do battle in traditional single scenarios or wage war through a series of linked scenarios in the game's new campaign mode. During combat, Enemy Territory players gain experience and skill and are awarded additional abilities (through battlefield promotions) that remain persistent across an entire campaign. Enemy Territory is a big download (257 Mb) and it's an online multi-player game only - but fortunately there's a thriving worldwide gaming community supporting it and it's easy to find other players online at most times of the day. Enemy Territory is easily equal to any commercial game and it runs on both Windows and Linux. There are also many extensions and add-ons to the game available through the Wolfenstein gaming community (and our download link refers you to one of these community sites so you can get the files and get playing in the shortest time possible). You can also get free single-player demos of some earlier versions of Wolfenstein directly from id Software:


Rising Eagle: Futuristic Infantry Warfare
Rising Eagle: Futuristic Infantry Warfare is an online multiplayer, team based tactical FPS game (for up to 32 players at a time) created by Invasion Interactive. The game is set in the near future in a world in which the USA - weakened by apocalyptic natural disasters - rises from the ashes to reclaim its superpower status. The gamer assumes the role of a Marine Corps infantryman of the future and finds himself (or herself) as part of an American, European or Chinese task force assigned to various missions around the globe. This game only runs on Windows XP and Vista and the download is a whopping 1.14Gb. But like Wolfenstein Enemy Territory (above) it's easily the equal of any commercial game and can keep you happily engrossed for hours. Rising Eagle has won rave reviews since its release in April 2008 and was significantly upgraded in July 2008 to include many enhancements suggested by gamers themselves. And while it's not (as yet) as widely supported by a world-wide gaming community as Enemy Territory, we think it's likely to be. Get Rising Eagle: Futuristic Infantry Warfare


Alien Arena 2008
Alien Arena 2008 is a freeware online multiplayer deathmatch game for Windows (95 to XP/2003), Linux and Mac OS, and it combines some of the very best aspects of Quake III and Unreal Tournament with a quirky retro alien theme that we think is quite cute (its Mars Attacks-type aliens are really a lot of fun!). The game runs on the CRX engine, so it features many modern effects like real-time lighting and shadows, shaders, light blooms and reflective surfaces while still being able to run on comparatively modest systems. Alien Arena also includes a built-in as well as external server browser and chat client which allows players to look up their stats online, chat with other players and become part of the growing Alien Arena community quite easily. This is another online multi-player game (like Enemy Territory and Rising Eagle, above) and dozens of maps, models, and accessories have been created by its wide and dedicated fanbase to add to the basic gaming experience. The game was also recently upgraded to improve its speed and correct a couple of minor defects. Alien Arena is a big 180Mb+ download. But it's a lot of fun to play and well worth it. Get Alien Arena.


America's Army
It's a bit hard to overlook the US military at any time - but most especially when they've created their own FPS game! America's Army is a terrific FPS produced by the recruitment wing of the US Army that's become a smash hit ever since its release in 2006. When you start up America's Army you'll have to go through (and pass) Boot Camp before you can progress to the multi-player version (and Boot Camp isn't easy!). But when you do you can then join other players on assignment in various theatres of conflict, waging a virtual War On Terror with a surprising degree of realism. America's Army runs on Windows, Linux and Mac machines and at close to 1Gb it's another big download. But the latest release includes additional maps and the game play just seems to get better from one upgrade to the next. America's Army is widely available on servers around the world, so finding buddies to go on missions with isn't hard (finding a local download site close to you isn't very hard either). And if you've ever wondered what life is really like in the US military, this game's attention to realism means that it's also pretty insightful. Good job, Uncle Sam! Get America's Army.


NTE: Navy Training Exercise
Not to be outdone in the online gaming stakes - though with a bit less attention to realism than America's Army (above) - the US Navy have also released their own game, which they use as a training exercise to help them evaluate future recruitment benchmarks. NTE players have to pilot a futuristic submarine through hordes of vile sea creatures in a game that demands both sound reasoning and quick-thinking action if you're going to pass it (and at the date of writing fewer than 7% of gamers actually pull off a successful mission, so it isn't easy!). Like many of the other games we list on this page, this is an online multi-player FPS and you'll need to create an account on the US Navy's site before you download the files. But it runs on Windows (98 to XP) and places very few heavy demands on your hardware. We had fun with this game and no doubt the US Navy now has some information about us on its files. But honestly - who cares? Get NTE: Navy Training Exercise


Inside The Beast
If you're not attracted to either big downloads or online multi-player games and just want to quietly shoot the world to smithereens in private, then OTS Software's Inside The Beast is worth your time. In this engaging 3D FPS you need to go inside The Beast and fight through his minions (ie ghosts, skeletons, zombies, mad axemen, mutants, and more) before The Beast can unleash his evil on the world. And you must succeed where your two best friends failed (when they failed, The Beast buried their hearts in concrete markers. You'll need to destroy their markers and retrieve their hearts to give yourself more lives). This is a great little FPS and at 10Mb the download is pretty insignificant in comparison to some of the biggies we list. In addition, Inside The Beast also runs on all versions of Windows (from Win95 to Server 2003) and has minimal hardware requirements. Furthermore - if you like this particular game - OTS Software also have several other equally good freeware games on their site that you might like to try as well (we can particularly recommend Alien Xcape if you're using Windows Vista).
Get Inside The Beast


Doom Demo
Finally, another light-download, single-person (ie non-multiplayer) FPS we can highly recommend is Doom Demo, a freeware version of id Software's 1993 smash hit Doom (which - curiously enough - isn't available on id Software's own website). While the graphics on this version look pretty primitive by contemporary gaming standards, it's still quite gripping and a lot of pulse-pounding fun if you enjoy classic FPS games. And since it runs on older versions of Windows (95/98/Me/2000), it demands very little from your hardware either (in fact, the installation set-up for this 2.4Mb download runs in a DOS window). Although this game is labelled as "demo" it's actually the complete original first episode of Doom and it gives you 9 increasingly difficult playable levels to get through (and when you add in multiple levels of player difficulty, then there are arguably even more variations to try). Doom is an easy game to learn but a tough game to master, and that's why you can have endless hours of fun with it. But get it quickly from Download.Com's servers, because it seems to have disappeared from most other places on the Net. Get Doom Demo


This page last updated: 11-Sep-2008



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