Contents

5 Computer basics

What is a computer made of?

Computers have different parts that all serve different functions. When they work together, they help us perform complex tasks like creating and editing documents or playing games. These are some of the key parts of a computer:

Central processing unit (CPU)

You can think of the CPU as the computer’s brain. It receives and interprets messages, and makes sure the computer gives you the right response. When you double click a file, for instance, you are giving the computer input through the mouse. The CPU gets the input, and turns it into output which is the files that open up on your screen.

Operating system

This is the programme that helps you communicate with the computer without having to speak its language. The most common operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The operating system manages all the computer’s software and hardware. When you are doing tasks on your computer, different programmes need access to the computer’s CPU, memory and storage. The operating system makes sure that all of these processes run smoothly. It also makes sure that your hardware knows exactly what to do.

Graphics processing unit (GPU)

This is the part of the computer that deals with 2D and 3D images, animations and videos. It is one of the components that gamers care about most, because a good GPU will give you faster and smoother pictures and movement while you play.

Random access memory (RAM)

This part of the computer stores all of the information from programmes that are running on your computer. RAM allows you to access information quickly and easily, but it goes away when you turn the computer off.

Hard drive

The hard drive is also used to store information. Unlike the RAM, which stores some information for a short time, the hard drive holds all of the information that your computer needs in order to work. The hard drive saves all of the information on stacks of disks that continuously spin around.

You might be thinking: what am I going to do with all of this information? If you’re not interested in building or fixing your own computer, the definitions we’ve given you might seem useless. But knowing a little bit more about the parts of a computer is very important for gamers!

That’s because all games come with something called minimum requirements. These minimum requirements tell you how big, fast or strong the different parts of your computer need to be in order to run the game you want to play. You can find the minimum requirements on the box of the game if you’re buying a physical copy, or on the platform you buy your digital copies from. We’ll look at how to find games on platforms like Steam and Origin in the next section.

Exercise 5

Can you find the minimum requirements for your favourite game? Try to compare them to the specifications of the computer you’re playing on. Ask the site operator for help with finding and understanding the specifications.

Turning the computer on/off

The laptops at the I-CAN PLAY Gaming Centre run on the Windows 10 operating system. Sometimes, you might run into a problem that can be fixed by turning the laptop off and then on again. Knowing how to do this basic task will also come in handy when you download new games. We’ll look at how to connect to the Internet and how to find games a little later. First, let’s go through the steps of turning the laptop off.

Step 1: The Windows icon

In the bottom, left hand corner of the laptop screen you will see an icon that looks like a window pane.

The Windows icon

This is the Windows icon. When you click on it with the left button of your mouse, it will show you a menu of all the programmes on your computer.

Step 2: The power icon

On the right left side of the menu that comes up when you click the Windows icon, you will also find three smaller icons (from top to bottom they are an outline of a person, a cog wheel, and a power icon).

The menu that comes up when you click the Windows icon shows three smaller icons: a person, a cog wheel, and a power icon

When you click on the power icon (the one closest to the Windows icon), you will see a menu that includes the options ‘Sleep’, ‘Shut down’ and ‘Restart’.

The power menu that includes options ‘Sleep’, ‘Shut down’ and ‘Restart’.

Step 3: ‘Shut down’ or ‘Restart’

The menu that comes up after you’ve clicked on the power icon gives you three options. You can choose ‘Sleep’. This will put the computer in rest mode, but will not turn it off. You can choose ‘Shut down’. This will turn the computer off completely. It will only turn on again if you press the power button on the laptop. You can also choose ‘Restart’. This will turn the computer off and then automatically back on again.

If you want to turn the computer off, you will choose ‘Shut down’.

Connecting to the Internet

The Internet is a powerful network that gives you access to all kinds of information and communication opportunities. At the I-CAN PLAY Gaming Centre, you can use the Internet for a number of things. You can use the Internet to connect to other gamers (at I-CAN PLAY and across the world), and play multiplayer games with them. You can also use the Internet to download new games that you want to try, and to watch Let’s Plays and tutorials of the games you’re learning to play. Please remember to check with the site operator before you download a new game.

But how do you connect to the Internet?

Exercise 6

If you already know how to connect to the Internet, write down your answer or tell a friend.

There are two easy ways that you can connect to the Internet. The first is through Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi allows computers and phones in a particular area to wirelessly connect to the Internet. To use Wi-Fi, you’ll need to follow these steps:

Step 1: The Windows icon

In the bottom, left hand corner of the laptop screen you will see an icon that looks like a window pane.

The Windows icon

This is the Windows icon. When you click on it with the left button of your mouse, it will show you a menu of all the programmes on your computer.

Step 2: The settings icon

On the left hand side of the menu that comes up when you click the Windows icon, you will also find three smaller icons (from top to bottom they are an outline of a person, a cog wheel, and a power icon).

The menu that comes up when you click the Windows icon shows three smaller icons: a person, a cog wheel, and a power icon

Step 3: Network & Internet settings

When you click on the cog wheel, or settings, icon (the middle icon), it will show you a menu.

In the Windows Settings menu, the icon in the top row, second from the right says ‘Network & Internet’. Click on this icon with the left button of your mouse.

When you click on the cog wheel, or settings, icon, you see a menu like this.

Step 4: Turn Wi-Fi on

In the Network & Internet settings menu, click on the word ‘Wi-Fi’ that appears in the list on the left hand side of the menu (second from the top).

The Network & Internet settings menu

That will take you to the Wi-Fi menu.

The Wi-Fi menu

Click on the slider that shows that the Wi-Fi is off. When you click on the slider it will change from white to blue.

When you click on the slider it will change from white to blue.

Exercise 7

Can you find another way to connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi? Show your friend or the site operator how you would do it.

Connect the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port

The second way that you can connect to the Internet is through a Local Area Network (LAN). This works in a similar way to Wi-Fi, but you use something called an Ethernet cable to establish your connection. To connect to the Internet using a LAN, there’s only one step to follow.

On the one end the Ethernet cable will be connected to a modem, and on the other you will plug it into a port that looks like the picture below.

An Ethernet cable and an Ethernet port

If the LAN connection does not work, you can follow the first two steps we went through for connecting to the Internet through Wi-Fi. That will bring you to a menu titled ‘Ethernet’.

The Ethernet menu

Click on the word ‘Ethernet’ on left hand side of the screen (third from the top). Here you will find the settings that you need to adjust to make sure that you are connected to the Internet.

Creating your email account

Now that you know how to connect to the Internet, you can create an email account. Email is a great way to communicate with friends and family, and can help employers contact you more easily. When you play games, an email account is also a way for you to identify yourself, and get access to the platforms we’ll discuss in the next section.

The most popular email platform that you can join for free is Google’s Gmail. You can pick your own email handle. It might look like this: lerato@gmail.com, or l.kgatle@gmail.com. You can have fun and pick a name that suits you, but also keep in mind that you want other people to be able to recognise and remember your email address. You can also make more than one account if you want to separate your personal and business profiles.

Exercise 8

If you don’t already have your own email account, click on this link and follow the instructions to create one: www.digitalunite.com/guides/email/how-create-gmail-account.