Carve a wrong turn in the deep powder of the video game "Stoked Rider: Big Mountain Snowboarding" and you'd better brace for an avalanche of swirling white snow engulfing everything as it crashes down the mountainside.
Such games used to be a simple matter of steering downhill and performing tricks as a wintry, 3D world of virtual pine trees and moguls inconsequentially whirred by.
Those games looked realistic, but the objects in them did not behave realistically.
Because of the computing muscle needed to calculate all those snowflakes and their interactions, avalanches were pretty much out of the question.
"Stoked Rider," though merely a demonstration, is one of the first examples of how video games can benefit from a new breed of computer chips dedicated to calculating the physics of a game's virtual world.