PC and mobile games; motion sensor nightlights
Bob's Tech Talk
July 1, 2023 | View PDF
Q. I would like to get back into playing PC games. Where should I start?
A. The universe of high-quality “traditional” computer games is bigger than ever. Online storefronts for computer-based games fall into two major groups: mobile games for handheld devices like tablets and smartphones, and traditional games for desktop and laptop computers.
Where you start depends on the device. For PCs probably the most popular game store is Steam. Steam is a digital distribution platform operated by Valve Corporation. It is one of the most popular and widely used platforms for purchasing, downloading and playing games on PC, Mac and Linux operating systems.
Overall, Steam has become a central hub for PC gaming, offering a convenient and comprehensive platform. It has a large and active user base, and its regular sales, updates and community features contribute to its popularity among gamers.
In my opinion, the game marketplace can be an unwelcome experience, especially for newcomers. Titles that feature gunplay, horror, warfare and all manner of violent mayhem are easy to find.
However, computer gaming is a vast universe. There are puzzle games, word games, strategy games, simulations and much more. There are gentle games, and slow moving games. If you want to explore gaming, be sure to look at the different categories of games, because there is a rich world of entertainment out there if you have the patience to find it.
Q. I left the traditional computer world behind a decade ago. Where can I find games for my smartphone?
A. Smartphones and tablets also sport a huge catalog of available games. These games can be less elaborate than traditional computer games. Some of them are very simple.
However, modern smartphones can pack more computer power than all but the latest top-of-the-line desktops and laptops, making them increasingly more popular as gaming devices.
The best place to start looking for mobile games is each device’s respective game subscription service. For a nominal monthly fee, you gain access to hundreds of games immediately, allowing you to try as many as you like.
Apple offers Apple Arcade, which is available for $4.99 a month. Google Play has its Pass service, which costs $5 a month. Both services provide access to hundreds of games, and may be the best places to discover the kinds of games you enjoy most.
For many people, a game subscription service will be all they ever need. But mobile app stores also offer thousands of titles that can be purchased individually. But watch your budget – the in-app purchase fees inside these titles can balloon into hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Until you gain some experience with mobile games, the safest way to explore is a fixed-price game service such as Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass.
Q. What is your favorite home automation device these days?
A. Home automation hardware remains complex, unforgiving and expensive. After decades of promises, it’s still not ready for any homeowner except early adopters with a great deal of patience and low expectations.
That said, there is one simple, inexpensive automation device that I can no longer live without: a motion sensor nightlight.
They come in dozens of shapes, sizes and intensities. Some need a wall outlet, others can operate for months on a couple of batteries.
Motion sensor nightlights are gloriously inexpensive, often available for 10 dollars or less, especially when bought in packs of two or four.
All but the cheapest models include photo cells, so the room has to be dark already in order for the light to come on. As a result, they adapt their schedule as each day gets longer or shorter. Some designs illuminate a small pool of light on the floor while others can rival candlelight, enough to fill an entire room.
Simply put, they deliver the best bang for the buck of any technology I own. Every single day, they make life a little easier.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
When it comes to traditional computer games, Steam is probably the most active online game community.
MetaCritic is a review aggregator website that provides info from various sources, including mobile games. Use it to find games or other review sites.
How deep is the ocean?
Explore Davy Jones’ Locker in this entertaining interactive illustration of the relative distances from sea level to the ocean floor.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at email@example.com.