Video Games: They're Not Just for Fun

A new genre of video game that goes beyond entertainment has emerged in the past decade: serious games. The latest versions provide greater immersion and realistic experiences thanks to GPU-acceleration.

We're not talking about guys who get so serious about Halo that their wives call themselves widows. These applications take the technology built for console and PC games and apply it to training, education and simulation for the real world. AMD Radeon GPUs help make sure trainees get a truly lifelike experience.

The first serious games were built with low budgets and relatively simple production values. As visual computing technology and the tools needed to develop sophisticated 3D worlds became less expensive, simulations and training games have become more robust and visually immersive.

Zero Hour: America’s Medic is used for training first responders, particularly emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Trainees encounter medical emergencies during a virtual disaster scenario and have to make quick decisions, such as diagnosing virtual patients with incomplete information. The application is distributed by the National Emergency Medical Services Preparedness Institute, affiliated with George Washington University.

Zero Hour uses the Unreal Engine 3, a game engine used in big budget PC and console games like "Mass Effect 2" and "Bioshock." The Unreal Engine makes it easy to design scenarios and script events that players will encounter. Zero Hour was developed by Virtual Heroes, the company that also created "America’s Army," a multiplayer first person shooter designed as a recruiting tool for the U.S. Army.

Some serious games mix entertainment with education. X-Plane, a flight simulator, is geared towards flight enthusiasts who want to experience flying aircraft on their desktop systems. The desktop PC version is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, and a mobile edition is available for the iPhone.

Hours on the professional version of the game, X-Plane Pro, with the appropriate Federal Aviation Administration-certified simulator control hardware, can even count towards a pilot's license. Both the desktop PC version and X-Plane Pro are graphically demanding applications that require substantial CPU and GPU horsepower. AMD Radeon GPUs help deliver the immersive graphics fidelity necessary to learn how to fly a plane. And the game is even more realistic on multiple displays using AMD Eyefinity technology.

Visual computing technologies are increasingly important in real-life training and education. And that makes it more important than ever for computers at home and in professional settings to be equipped with the appropriate AMD Radeon GPU components.

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