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How To Use Your Computer as a Gaming Console

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/13/2010

You can use your computer as a video game console with a simple download, and a USB game controller. Most console emulators are legal because they are written by a computer programmer, without the use of the original system's code! Read on to find out how to use your computer for video games.

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    With many of the gaming systems available today, you would have to spend thousands of dollars to enjoy them all. Not to mention the mess of many cords to connect all the systems, and the hassle of connecting and disconnecting the systems as you decide which one to play, and when. A simple solution is to use your computer and a console emulator.

    Though there has been some controversy over emulators and their legalities, it has been determined that they do not infringe copyright, as long as none of the orignal gaming console code was used to create the emulator. There are plenty of smart programmers out there that have spent hours coding these emulators on their own, thus providing you with public domain versions of your favorite gaming consoles and the games for them. Even in this case, there are some emulators out there that actually do infringe on copyright.

    WIth that in mind, you are responsible for conducting research to determine if your desired emulator is legal or not. You are also responsible for making sure the ROMs (the emulator game files) are also free from copyright infringement. Use what you wish, at your own risk, as you cannot hold myself, or Bright Hub liable for your downloads.

    For the purpose of this article, we will be using an open source emulator for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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    Things You'll Need

    • High Speed Internet Connection (used to download the emulators)
    • Open Source Video Game Emulator (available here)
    • Good video card (for video and picture quality)
    • USB game controller and/or joystick (so you don't have to use the keyboard to play) OR USB to (your video game system) adapter to allow you to connect your existing game controllers to your computer with USB.
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    Step One

    Open the link for the Nintendo Entertainment System above. This will present you with a list of all the open source emulators for the original Nintendo. Choose the 5th one from the top of the list, FakeNES, if you choose to follow the steps in this article exactly. Otherwise, choose the NES emulator you think will work best for you and your system.

    You will be prompted to choose a release to download. Choose release 0.5.9 beta 3. Download the .zip file: fakenews059b3. Unzip the file.

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    Step Two

    Run the FakeNES file. It will open the emulator right away. Now, you have a Ninetendo on your computer, but no games to play! Usually you should not download any ROMs unless you own the game, but since the NES and its games are no longer in production you should be fine. Many times, you can find games very similar to the original, but different enough to save you from infringment risks.

    Look for NES ROMs here. Find a game you want to download and play. Click the "Download this ROM" link and save the file in a location that you can remember.

    To load a ROM, you should go to Main > Open. Then, on the left hand side of that screen, you'll see a place to navigate to the location of the ROM on your hard drive.

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    Step Three

    Set up your game controller as you wish, and play your ROM. Many USB game controllers have a program/driver that allows you to configure your keypad outside the emulator. If you need to configure your keypad in the emulator, see the help section for more information.

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    Tips, Warnings, and Other Information

    • Remember copyright law, and respect those rights!
    • Each emulator will share similarities though often the installation and set-up of the program may differ slightly.