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Ten Ton Hammer's Terms of Gaming Graphics, Software and Settings

Posted Wed, Jun 07, 2006 by Ethec

The enjoyable treachery of images...

Almost eighty years ago, Rene Magritte scrawled famously below his painting of a pipe: "Ceci n’est pas une pipe", or (for monoglots like me) "This is not a pipe" - meaning that pictures aren't objects, only "treacherous" images (the painting was entitled "La Trahison des images" which even I can translate). Art scholars tell us that the painting was a reaction against the herd mentality of modern times, encouraging people to think about what they see before blindly accepting "facts" at face value.

There's a little history and culture for ya, but what does any of this have to do with gaming graphics, you say? Everything! With apologies to Magritte, gamers know it's fun to get caught up in a virtual experience, and since the brain receives ninety percent of its information from the eyes, graphics are a huge part of a game's immersiveness. We began exploring the hardware terms of gaming graphics last week, today we offer you common terms and definitions from the software side of things. Included are hints on how to tweak those common, yet arcane, graphics settings like "Anisotropic Filtering" and "VSync".

"Gamma Correction - At the electonic level, our perception of a light's intensity (or "luminance") is not directly proportional to the amount of voltage your monitor could possibly turn into light and throw at your eyes. In other words, a lightbulb can only get so dim while still remaining a distinct light source. While brightness is a straight-line measure of luminance, gamma correction takes into account the entire range of light your eyes actually see and attempts to spread the light evenly over that range. This is why on some games' video settings menus, you're offered a bar of grayscale values when you elect to change gamma. The idea is that you should adjust gamma until you can distinguish each of the grayscale bars - from the lightest to the darkest."

View the Ten Ton Hammer's Terms of Gaming Graphics here, then tune in tomorrow, when we balance out my artsy-fartsy rambling with some down-home old fashioned mud wrasslin'!


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