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Getting into gaming can be an expensive business. Whether you are looking at a console, handheld or PC you need a good few hundred pounds before you can even get started.
If you want to play multiplayer games the costs go even higher. You either need more controllers if you play in the same place - a four player Wii setup is close to GBP400 all in - or you need a console each if you play over the Internet.
As you may have read in my last article, I've recently been upgrading my mobile broadband package to sort out laggy gaming on my PC. What I didn't say was that my deal included a free laptop. I already have a gaming Laptop so I wasn't all that fussed about the free one.
But since having it I have discovered, with the help of my Wife, that it is a really cheap way to get into gaming. My free laptop is more than powerful enough to play most of the lightweight web games that are around these days.
What I hadn't realised was that as well as all the old style arcade games and emulators there are also a host of new games too - and many of these are multiplayer. Popcap and Orisinal in particular have been really popular in our house the last few days.
Before you know it you'll have graduated to a PS3 Surround Sound Blu-ray system with the works.
Add to this the games that are being built into our social network sites - Farmville, Mafia and the like - and you have a whole host of ways to play games really cheaply and on the go. Train and car journeys are now punctuated by passing our little laptop around as we each take turns on our favourite games - driver excluded I hasten to add.
So if you are looking for a cheap way to tip your toe in the world of gaming, web games and a cheap (or free) laptop are a great low risk way to get started. Before you know it you'll have graduated to a PS3 Surround Sound Blu-ray system with the works.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: