It's All Fun And Games: How Gaming Has Changed Your PC

Love how fast your PC crunches those Excel spreadsheets? How about the fantastic graphics and quick downloads? A lot of that is thanks to the efforts of the gaming community. Sometimes, the community complained loud enough to get improvements made across the board. Other times, the technology was designed explicitly for gamers, and was later co-opted for use by the general public. Here are some thoughts from industry executives on how gamers have made an impact on everyday computing.

"The graphics cards we all use, for example from Nvidia or ATI, were explicitly designed for gamers. Using them we end up with better performance in the OS -- both Vista and OS X are built on graphic accelerated cores.

Michael Abrash -- a famous Quake programmer -- actually wrote the Rendering code for Windows NT as the performance in the initial versions was awful."

"After realizing that graphics can enhance not only the gaming experience, but also the everyday computing experience, consumers began demanding a sharper visual experience for home PCs and notebooks. Not only did gaming help to inspire the demand for better graphics, but it also provided the technology to develop visually enhanced computing applications. For example, take 3D gaming. Microsoft created Direct3D, which is a part of DirectX, working with graphics companies like AMD. That technology lets game developers more easily make 3D games using AMD hardware and Microsoft software.

When it came to the development of Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft incorporated elements of DirectX to power parts of the overall Windows experience. For example, the special effects used when you want to rotate among open applications by pressing the Windows key + tab, are made possible thanks to DirectX and AMD graphics hardware."

"A decade ago, hard-core gamers were the only home users with 3D graphics cards. But as adoption grew, 3D graphics components began to appear in entry-level consumer PCs. We're now at the point where software designers can assume PCs will include at least basic 3D graphics hardware. The Windows 7 Aero interface actually requires 3D acceleration. Popular graphics-heavy applications like Google Earth depend on 3D APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL. I see a similar process at work with network hardware. At the moment, online gamers are the ones driving demand for specialized networking solutions in gaming routers and PCs. But over time, I expect high-performance, more intelligent network solutions to become a core part of the basic consumer PC landscape."

"A number of technologies we see today have been significantly influenced by video games and video game-related technology. Computer graphics technology that was initially developed for video games is now widely used in other areas. For instance, computer graphics technology is used in the medical field to enhance MRI scans. Computer graphics technology also is used more frequently in the motion picture industry. A prime example of this is James Cameron's movie 'Avatar,' which includes photo-realistic computer generated characters. Video games also have had an impact on the devices we use to communicate. Today, a number of the latest generation cell phones, such as the Apple iPhone, were specifically designed to be casual game-playing devices. In fact, the most downloaded iPhone 'apps' are casual video games."