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Video Games 101

A survey of video games and the people who build and play them

3 min read

As IEEE Spectrum readers know, video games have become big news in terms of their technical and economic impact. Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby explore their cultural impact in Smartbomb.

The authors report vividly from design studios, industry conferences, tournaments, and even bedrooms to give a panoramic view of the gaming world, from the developers who create the games to the players who can spend months trying to master the latest titles. Many notable game designers are featured, including Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, one of the most famous and successful game characters ever; John Carmack, cocreator of the seminal Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake franchises [see “The Wizardry of Id,” Spectrum, August 2002]; and Will Wright, creator of the idiosyncratic blockbusters SimCity and The Sims [see “Mind Games,” Spectrum, December 2002]. Getting insight into what drives such designers creatively is thought provoking. For many of them, video games are an expression of larger artistic or philosophical goals.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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