Growing Up With Cards and Games

Summer and games go together for me.

When I was a child, my family had a cottage on a small lake in Northern Minnesota. It lacked both electricity and plumbing which was fine with me; I liked the feeling of camping but still having a comfortable bed to sleep in at night. The only drawback was an outhouse that was half a block from the cottage and not a fun trip at night. My mother solved this by creating a “honey pot” that we all used at night and one of us emptied in the morning (although I suspect my mother ended up with the job most often).

In the evening, our light came from kerosene lamps and a large brick fireplace. After my father, mother, brother and I came in from evening fishing (or on a rainy day), we played card games in front of the fireplace; kerosene lamps hanging overhead to light the small table in the middle. We played gin rummy, 500 rummy and schmier, a game that I remember as being a little like bridge. (If anyone knows how to play smear, please contact me because I need a tutorial!) I especially loved gin rummy and won more than my share of games but I usually couldn’t beat my father. Looking back, I’m not certain which was better; the card games or the quiet evenings with family. However, I grew up treasuring both.

At some point, we added Monopoly to the list but I always had a love/hate relationship with that game. If you’re winning, it’s great. Your houses lined the board and the stack of money in front of you grew larger every time someone shook the dice and landed on your property. But if you missed purchasing the best properties, every shake of the dice put you further and further in debt – perhaps a little bit like real life! I couldn’t handle the slide into poverty and was usually very relieved when I lost all my money and was able to quit the game.

Of course, Scrabble was always a favorite but, as the youngest, I was a little handicapped by my vocabulary. At the time, I didn’t know about short words like Qi. Xu, Qua and Za that fit into small spaces and earned a lot of points. Today I play Scrabble every day online with friends and use these words regularly although I have to admit that I still have no idea what they mean.

In college, I was introduced to Bridge. I watched friends playing; listening to their bids and studying their plays. When I met Barry, my husband-to-be, I had only played a few times. After we were engaged, he and I were invited to dinner and a bridge game at one of his married friend’s houses. I was nervous and felt like a kid; these couples were four or five years older than me and actually lived in houses, rather than dormitories. By the end of the evening, I was feeling more confident and felt my bridge playing had been pretty good. As soon as we were in the car, Barry turned to me and said, “Never, never bid a three card suit!” He married me anyway and even taught me how to bid the right way.

For several years, we played party bridge with twelve friends who were, for the most part, at the same level as us. Each one of us rotated around three tables and different partners. However, there was one man in the group who took the game very seriously. Being his partner meant opening yourself to four hands of verbal abuse. I didn’t say anything at the time but this older and wiser version of myself would not have kept her mouth shut!

Once (and only once) I played duplicate bridge. We were living on an army base in Japan at the time and a friend asked me to substitute for her in a once-a-week duplicate bridge game while she stopped to have a baby. By this time, my bridge game had vastly improved and I immediately said yes. But I soon found out that this game had very little in common with party bridge. The room was deadly quiet, interrupted only with the sounds of quiet bidding at each table. The emphasis was on each hand and the score cards were kept meticulously. Also, the hands were carefully replaced for the next player.

After we had finished playing all the hands, everyone gathered to see where he or she had landed on the points list. I was second from last, with only a few more points than a ninety-year old woman who had dementia. The game was only two hours but it felt like eight. By the time I got home, I had a terrible headache. When Barry walked in the door, I was lying on the couch, an ice pack on my head and a glass of wine and bottle of aspirin on the table beside me.

When our children came along, we both spent hours playing children’s games such as Candy Land, Old Maid, Go Fish and Chutes and Ladders. Although those games disappeared as our children grew up, our game closet is now restocked with all of them, waiting for our granddaughter’s next visit. I’m finding it more fun playing the games this time around than I did when our children were young. I’m quite sure the reason for this is because we can enjoy playing with our grandchild without the anxieties that accompanied raising our own children. Grandchildren are simply fun!

With the advent of computers, we can also play a lot of games online. As I mentioned before, I play at least ten games of Scrabble with friends and family but these move slowly with only one move by each player in a day. In addition, I am addicted to the Microsoft Solitaire Collection which includes a daily challenge in five different solitaire games. You collect points which grow daily until (hopefully) you reach the gold bell by the end of the month when the scoring starts over. If you miss a few days, you get behind on your games. Catching up can be fun if you don’t mind a marathon day (or two) of computer games. And this is where the addiction starts!

Since we have lived in Florida, we have been introduced to two new games that we play with friends. The first is Rummikub, a board game that is a lot like 500 rummy. Barry and I play with three friends every couple of months and we usually lose. One friend has been playing this game for years with a group in her home town. They play for money, a penny a point and she would like us to do this also. I’d be willing if either Barry or I won once in a while but at the rate we’re going now, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

The other game we play with friends in our neighborhood is Mexican Train, a dominoes game. The strategy is fun but the best part of this game is pushing the button in the middle of the plastic train which emits a loud, “Choo cho, choo cho.” Of course, to be allowed to push the button you have to first win the game and, unfortunately that doesn’t happen to me very often. So occasionally I cheat and push the button for fun.

As you might have guessed by now, I don’t seem to win very often. However, I’ve decided that, for me, winning is not the object of the game. Of course I do prefer winning to losing but since that isn’t in “the cards”, I focus on other things, such as strategy, taking tricks, combining the correct numbers and adding up all the points I’m stuck with that someone else gets! I also tell myself that playing games is supposed to be good for your mind. But the best part of playing games is spending time with good friends, eating delicious food and building lovely memories in this phase of my life.
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How to Get a Game Server Hosted

First of all what are game server providers, GSPs, and why do I need one? If, like me, you love playing games with your other online gaming buddies you generally play together online. You and your team need a playground that will provide the online space for you to. How and where does all that information get processed? There are two main methods.

The first is peer to peer. Peer to peer is a well established protocol of information sharing between willing computers. In the case of online computer games this is where one computer acts as the host (master computer if you like) and all other players’ computers send their information to the master. This gives the player hosting the game a slight advantage in response time or lower ping and of course once that player leaves the game the server no longer exists as it was dependent on his connection, historically this has been referred to as a ‘listen server’.

Dedicated Servers. Some games companies like Activision and EA provide their own online “official” or “ranked” dedicated servers where they have their own machines in their own data centre hosting official servers that they control and admin. Console games generally also have their own dedicated servers provided by the developers or peer to peer solutions in some cases as with Modern Warfare 2 and 3. But some servers are provided by individuals who like to have personal control over how their game server is setup. These come in two options. Either the individual has a rented or owned machine and hosts the game server themselves. The second option is to rent a dedicated game server from a large list of GSP’s (game server providers) who for a small monthly charge can host your server for you 24 hours a day and have web based graphic user interfaces in order to start, stop, reinstall, edit configuration files, setup scheduled restarts, install mods and much more. This is in large part the most common choice as it is both cost effective and much easier to get started. Only basic knowledge is needed in order to host a server this way. That is why the GSP industry has grown to a 5 million dollar a year industry.

What are online servers?

A server is a machine running in a data centre (DC) with a high bandwidth connection to the internet and a redundant power supply to keep things online 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. This allows lots of players to connect to one place to all play together. GSP’s host their game servers on machines in a data centre.

What is ping?

Ping is just an ICMP command that checks the time it takes for a packet of information to travel from one computer to another and back again. Ping is measured in ms or milliseconds which are thousandths of a second. A game server that is hosted within 300 miles of your physical location should provide you with a good latency to your game server.

Full Dedicated Server

I have heard of dedicated servers. What are these?

You can rent a full dedicated server, this gives you root access to a Windows Server machine via Remote Desktop Connection. This is for advanced users as setting up a game server using steamcmd and configuring the firewall can be a time consuming process but for large communities and clans this is the only option. Full control over your game servers, root access to all of the files, something you will never get with shared game server hosting. It comes with a cost though, around the $100 per month mark so get those donations flowing to pay for the hardware.

Shared Game Server Hosting

Renting through a GSP (game server provider) is the most common and the best bang for your buck way to run a game server. You choose a provider from the many 100’s out there, choosing which provider to go with can be quite a daunting task. Here are the main points to consider.

· Price. Well price is king in most cases and a lot of gamers would have looked for the cheapest company in the top ten of Google and gone with them without even thinking about it. However choosing the lowest price is a haphazard way to choose any service, whether it be a plumber, an electrician or in this case a game server. You can choose the cheapest and take a punt, go for the most expensive and hope that translates into a quality service or if you’re like me go for the middle ground, not too cheap and not too expensive. I use this practice when choosing everything, from toasters to hotel rooms. But price isn’t the only factor to consider.

· Reputation. Reputation has an extremely strong influence in any decision on which service provider to use. There are game server companies that seem to of been around since the dawn of the internet age, and there are new unknown companies that have only formed in the past years. The older companies have seen it all before and maybe can get caught not putting the effort into the control panel functionality that a modern games and gamers demand. New vibrant young companies can be enthusiastic and energetic in their approach to both new game releases and support but they can also make mistakes and show a lack of experience in challenging support matters. The complicated nature of the newer indie games and steam early access games make it very difficult to get a smooth running game server so I would opt for the middle ground again, a company that’s not too long in the tooth but also old enough to have experience where it matters.

What else does a GSP offer then?

There are also some other factors to consider when selecting a GSP:

· Control Panel Interface. This is a Graphic User Interface (GUI) where you control your game server from. Here you can launch the game, change the rules, add server passwords, add bans, allows, add administrators and add mods. This should be fast and easy to use. The industry standard is TCAdmin 2, but many providers have custom created control panels to reduce costs as TCAdmin can be rather pricy for enterprise companies.

· Support staff experience. The support staff has experience to set up the game to make is easier to play as lots of games nowadays have complicated set up procedures. A good GSP will have a configuration editor already configured in the GSP control panel so that you do not need to go and research all the information to edit the file yourself. The key is the better the staff the less problems will go wrong with your server once you have it.

· Mod installers. Some GSPs have mod installers where you can, in one or two clicks, completely install a mod to a game with all the required files without the need to upload via FTP. Again this is a setup that your GSP would/should have made themselves.

· 24 Hour support. I play games into the wee hours of the morning and business hours support is no good to me. I want 24 hour support and I want someone to get back to me pretty quick so I can get on with my gaming. I don’t get a lot of free time and I don’t want it wasted on staring at a broken server, even if I did broke it myself.

· Instant Setup. Most GSP’s should have instant setup, in my experience this is not actually instant, instant start of the setup, not quite instant setup, the files need to download and some of these new games can be 20GB or more.

· Configuration editors. These are necessary for GSPs as many don’t want to give access to the root folders and modify the configurations and .ini files as the player slots are generally directly related to CPU consumption so the more player slots you require the more the server will cost. A good configuration editor will make the setting up of your game server easier. The complicated nature of some of the recent indie games like DayZ and Ark Survival evolved require attention to detail in order to get running smoothly. Make sure to check that the GSP is up to date with all custom configurations as updates for these types of games come quite often and can break an out of date configuration. So making sure the GSP staff are keeping up with games is a good indicator of a good GSP. Any good GSP should be able to answer detailed questions about their games and if they don’t what kind of support can you expect from them.

Thanks for reading my article and be sure to check us out our ARK Game Server Hosting.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Matt_Griffin/2262873

 

How Good Is Java for Mobile Game Development?

At present, Android dominates the worldwide smartphone operating system market. Also, the statistics posted on various websites indicate that Google Play Store currently offers more apps and games than Apple Play Store. The trends depict that many developers prefer developing apps and games for the Android platform.

The developers have option to write apps and games for Android in C, C++ or Java. But Java is the official language for developing games and apps for Google’s mobile operating system. Google further recommends developers to write new Android applications and games in Java. Also, many developers find it easier to write mobile games in Java than other programming languages.

Why Many Developers prefer writing Mobile Games in Java?

Java is a Popular Programming Language

Java is currently one of the most widely used general-purpose programming languages. The developers have option to use Java for developing desktop GUI applications, web applications and mobile apps. So many beginners prefer learning a programming language that enables them to build a wide variety of applications. Also, Java enables developers to write, compile and debug code without putting any extra effort. That is why; enterprises can build mobile apps easily by deploying skilled Java programmers.

Java is a Multithreaded Programming Language

Developers always prefer writing mobile games in a programming language that supports multithreading fully. The multithreading support is essential for performing several tasks concurrently within a single program. So the users can easily play the mobile games written in Java while performing other tasks like checking emails and browsing internet. The multitasking support makes it easier for programmers to build games that allow users to switch from one task to another seamlessly.

Facilitates Cross-Platform Game Development

Unlike other programming languages, Java enables developers to port applications from one platform to another seamlessly. They programmers can write the mobile game in Java once, and run it on multiple devices and platforms without recompiling the code and using extra implementation dependencies. So it becomes easier for developers to build the mobile game initially for the Android operating system, and reuse the same code to extend the game to other mobile platforms.

Helps Developers to Build Flawless Games

Like mobile apps, mobile games also need to work flawlessly and deliver richer user experience to become popular and profitable. So the developers need to ensure that the code written by them is flawless. Also, the must identify and repair the bugs or flaws in the code immediately. Unlike other programming languages, Java enables programmers to identify and eliminate coding errors early and quickly. The programmers can further take advantage of the Java compiler to detect errors occurring at the time of code execution.

Features Included in Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME)

While writing mobile games in Java, the developers can take advantage of the robust features provided by Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME). In addition to being an open platform, J2ME further includes Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) API. The MIDP API helps developers to create apps and games for constrained devices. The latest version of MIDP API comes with several new features to make mobile game development simpler and faster.

The programmers can further use Java runtime environment and libraries to make the game run seamlessly on various mobile devices. At the same time, the rich user interface features of J2ME make it easier for developers to make the games more visually appealing. Also, the platform can queue network operations and catch efficiently. Hence, the developers can use J2ME to enable users to play the games even when there is no internet connectivity.

Loads of Game Development Tools

The developers can further avail a number of tools to build 2D and 3D mobile games in Java rapidly. For instance, the programmers can use advanced 3D game engines like jMonkeyEngine to create stunning 3D worlds. These tools further boost the performance of Java games significantly, and enables developers to port the games to different platforms.

Some of these tools even allow programmers to write robust games in Java using widely used integrated development environments (IDEs) like NetBeans and Eclipse. These game development tools contribute immensely towards making Java mobile game development popular.

The Java developers also have option to use several mobile game development tools to build robust games in Java within a shorter amount of time. The suite of 2D and 3D tools provided by these frameworks make it easier for programmers to create games that deliver richer user experience across many devices powered by the Android operating system.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Mayur_Prakash/2275460

 

Truth About Online Games

One thing which never seems to die down will be the hype created by online games. Many might think that the fever of online games has died down but they couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, online games are most popular today in comparison to what they were a few decades ago. The undying appeal for the virtual world of gaming is at a constant up rise. Due to the advancements in technology, the graphics, quality of visuals and sounds, have drastically increased in every capacity, simply pulling more fans into its area of influence. The access to the internet has also increased the number of people who can access these games in the very first place. The realistic sense of the virtual world, which we refer to as the world of gaming, simply plunges every person into its orbit. This in turns them into obsessive fans to this illusionary, yet very surreal world which is under their control and power.

When coming down to online games, over the years, they have seemed to have gained unparalleled followers unlike any other. As mentioned before due to the increased access of the internet, the advanced technological graphics used simply make games very addictive. Due to the mere fact that these games are to be accessed online, time is rather saved from downloading these very games at the very start. Few games also allow a user to save their progress after a very short sign in process which can be logged in through social media websites as well such as Facebook, Google+, Yahoo etc. A recent study has also shown that almost one in every five users on the internet access gaming websites and this number is predicted to increase with the due passage of time as game developers are very keen on producing innovative time effective and fan-following online games which keeps a user busy for days. Even though a handful of people would go against the very essence of online games, there are not only multiple, but several benefits of online gaming which many are unaware of. Luckily for you, who stumbled upon this article, be aware of all the benefits which online games have to offer.

Enhance Memory

Online gaming provides a platform which is indeed very re-collective in terms of making a user plunge into the world of gaming. The biggest perk of online games is that the user has a variety of games to choose from which are away at a click of a second, at equal lapses. Everyone is aware of the fact that humans normally do not utilise 100% of their brain function. Games like puzzles, logic based games, trivia and problem solving games help brain function. Normally humans use one part of the brain but by playing these specific ones, the brain of the user does not only one part of the brain but almost all areas are active and functional. With new games added to the list every day, the user has countless options to choose from alongside new activities to indulge into in the online world of gaming.

Recovery & Health

There are many people out there who are suffering from all kinds of illnesses. Online tools used in games can be very helpful in this regard to help speed up recovery. Parents whose child is sick may find refuge in these games to understand how their child is suffering and can make them understand their child better. Most of the tools which are used in gaming help to increase sharpness and awareness amongst kids which is a great way to booth and improve the mental health of many children suffering from illnesses such as dyslexia. Not all games on the internet are for entertainment; rather most revolve around an educational background which is indeed a motivational area of comfort for children. Many non profit organisations formulate games in order to help aid those children and adults which are suffering for specific kinds of illnesses.

Social Interaction

Many people are shy when it comes to mingling along with others and finding comfort amongst their fellows. During this dilemma, many find solace through interacting with fellow players in the gaming world. This is something which has over the years taken a turn for the best in order to increase social interaction. There are communities formed within these games which indeed form a bond between all prayers and rather forms a community. The virtual world indeed is sometimes very promising when it comes to providing people a platform to voice out without their identity being given out. Such examples of games include Club Penguin which has become very popular. The game simply allows people to entire a world which is full of penguins and for them to interact with other players who too are penguins. These people are from places across the globe. Users also have the option to chat with fellow players and parents have the option to keep a close eye on their children as the site asks for parental consent before indulging in the game.

All in all, there are many more benefits which the virtual world of online games has to offer which not many people are aware of. Only a few are stated in this article but do try out this as an experience for yourself by trying out an online game and then sharing your experiences in terms of benefits.

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Minahil_Imran/2277962

 

ESL Grammar Games for Children – How to Teach Grammar With Games in the EFL Classroom

1. Beneficial effects of games in ESL / EFL teaching

One of the most important teaching tools the teacher has in the EFL-classroom is the teaching of a foreign language through games. Playing games is not only the most natural way children learn a language, but authors like Hadfield and Rixon point out that games should have a central place in language teaching because of their several beneficial effects: they create a friendly atmosphere in the classroom, they are fun and relaxing. Penny Ur thinks that it is necessary to play games in EFL lessons because games provide a meaningful context for the learner. Rinvolucri is of the opinion that games help enhance students´ activity and involvement in language learning.

Despite all the described advantages of playing games in the EFL-classroom, teaching grammar through games is often frowned upon, as most people are of the opinion that grammar is the most important and difficult part of the foreign language. It follows that grammar should be taught in a ´serious, academic´ way and playing games in grammar lessons is a waste of time or games should only be used at the end of a lesson or as so-called time-fillers. Nevertheless, research in this field has shown that acquiring grammar well means to put emphasis on fluency and speaking activities whereby grammar structures are repeated and practised abundantly. Games are a great help for students to practise and to revise any kind of grammar structure and for teachers to complete the usual textbook with meaningful and efficient grammar exercises.

2. How to use grammar games in the EFL-classroom

I would like to describe here how children can be taught three important and difficult grammar structures by games:

Game 1. Teaching grammar in the EFL-classroom: Preposition Challenge (practise of vocabulary: in, on, under, behind, between, in front of)

When learning prepositions, learners are mostly in their second year of learning English at elementary school. The children have already acquired some vocabulary from the topics such as: colours, numbers, talking about yourself, house and living, furniture, places, animals and so on.

Introduce 3 to 6 new prepositions to the class using objects that you have to hand such as pens, books and classroom furniture. Show the class different prepositions and have children copy you. Tell the class to hold up a pen and a book. Put the pen inside the book. Put the pen under the book. Put the book on the pen. Put the pen on your elbow. Put the pen in between your fingers. And for laughs, if suitable, put the pen up your nose but gently!

Gradually, continue giving instructions but stop showing the children, who must do it now from understanding alone, rather than copying. Show again where necessary and continue until most of the class remember five or six of the prepositions. Do not continue until every single child knows every single preposition – it will be laborious.

Then ask children to move about the classroom. Pietro stand behind Anna.Play a guessing game where you hide an object and others guess where it is.

Game 2. Teaching grammar in the EFL-classroom: countability: a/some/any

The usage of a/some/any is often difficult for children, especially for those whose native languages have no article and/or different concepts of countability.

Shop-A-Holics

Preparation: Ask children to collect all kinds of pictures and packages of goods they have bought in a shop: e.g. milk boxes, chocolate wrapping paper. They can either label them at home with the English words: e.g. put a label on a juice bottle and write: orange juice or they can bring the packages to the classroom and the teacher helps to label them. By doing so you can revise the usage of a/and/some by repeating: This is an apple, this is some milk. Bring in or make some fake money, or simply use slips of paper with numbers on them. As children are asked to perform a short dialogue in this game, drill some useful sentences e.g: ‘I would like some bananas’ with a sentence-race game. Then let children create their shops using the classroom desks as stalls and arranging their goods on it. When playing with a whole class, let one third of the class be shop-keepers and the others shoppers.

Procedure: Ask children to go around from stall to stall and buy as many goods as they like and to spend as much money as they like. To get the goods from the shop keeper the shoppers must use the phrases correctly. After some time the teacher calls out an item, that is off – poison found in the chocolate. The shoppers must hand over any chocolate purchased to the teacher and shop keepers withdraw it from the shop. The teacher writes the item on the board for everyone to see that this item can not be bought. Play the game in a quick pace and set a time limit. After let´s say 10 minutes the game is stopped and all children who managed to acquire at least 10 items are the winners. The game can be repeated several times and the children should swap roles, being either shopper, shop-keeper or the person who calls out the items. This game was played very intensely by my class and got a very high rating by all children.

Game 3. Teaching grammar in the EFL-classroom: Asking questions

Asking questions is a central point in grammar teaching, nevertheless children usually take a long time to get used to the word order, interrogative pronouns and the usage of to do.

An excellent game to practise questions is: Grandmother´s (or Grandfather’s) footsteps. Make one child come up front and be grandmother. With his or her back to the class the child asks questions such as: Do you like pears? The class repeat the question while moving up to the front of the classroom.

Grandmother turns around suddenly and all students freeze. If grandmother sees a child moving that child has to answer the question, earning a point if correct. Grandmother can also say. ‘Left. Do you like dogs?’ All children have to go to the left side of the classroom so that grandmother has a bigger chance of catching a child moving. This game is one of the beloved games in the EFL-classroom, it creates great tension because the children are eager to avoid being caught and when caught they can at last gain a point by answering the question correctly. Moreover they like the movement and the quick pace of the game.

About the author: Shelley Ann Vernon, conscious of the vital role teachers can play in the lives of their pupils, promotes learning through encouragement and games.

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Shelley_Ann_Vernon/42833