Expo Preview: Consumer Software

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OpenGL availability in Mac OS 9 enabled a number of games previously available only on the PC platform to come to the Mac in the past year. Looking at this year's three Eddy nominees for Best Game -- The Sims, Quake III Arena, and Diablo II -- Mac gaming is far from a one-trick pony. While there are still more games available only to PC users, Mac gaming enjoys a good share of the entertainment. The Sims, with its clever premise and addictive, somewhat voyeuristic structure, is unforgettable. Diablo II continues where Diablo left off, while going notably further. Quake III Arena never hesitates to shock, thrill, and frighten, with impressive graphics and audio to complement the game.

Educational software for the Mac is now widely available, including language-learning software such as The Rosetta Stone 2000. The interactive delivery of history is one of the strong points of educational software available for the Mac platform, as in titles such as The Oregon Trail, 4th Edition, where students learn in a virtual environment the challenges pioneers faced when heading West. One of our Eddy nominees, Talking Walls, makes world history accessible to young students as they learn through the stories of famous walls around the world.

Virtual travel is a great way to test a trip out before actually taking it, and we found The Louvre -- The Virtual Visit well worth our time.

Reference software is also a hit. Forget about 26 volumes of hard-bound encyclopedias that can go out of date at any moment -- now, all this information is available as software. Chock full of knowledge, our third nominee for an Eddy in Consumer Software is the 2001 Grolier Encyclopedia.

Games for children that feature some educational merit are widely available in the marketplace, from math-based titles like Star Wars Math: Jabba's Game Galaxy to Arthur's Preschool for younger learners.

So now we can learn history via the desktop, master foreign languages through software, visit remote locations virtually, and build communities of virtual people, telling them when to eat, sleep, and add a new couch to their living rooms. What's next? Wait and find out.

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