Up and Up: the Evolution of Online Gaming
We’re very social creatures, humans. Ever since we first worked out how to throw a rock to one another, we’ve found bigger and better ways to spent time playing with each other. Whether this is through a game of tennis or a round of the latest military first-person shooter, the core reasoning is the same: to engage in a little healthy competition and try to win. Science would probably tell us that the thrill of winning stems from a release of chemicals in the brain, but whatever the reason behind it, the way it makes us feel is undeniably good. And this feeling seems to be magnified when we win against other people.
Call it primal dominance or anything else, it’s a driving force behind a lot of multiplayer games. Out of this desire to win has come all sorts of industries, including professional sports championships and even the music charts. But some forms of game have taken a more technological turn, more specifically in the form on online multiplayer gaming. And that’s all thanks to the internet. But where did this now booming industry start, and where is it going?
The earliest form of online play
The web didn’t really hit the big time until the late 90s to early 00s, but there were a few early adopters that had been playing around on the internet long before Twitter and Facebook were even a glint in some young man’s eye. One genre of multiplayer gaming that has made excellent use of the internet is the role playing game, and back in 1991 the very first RPG game was played over the internet – NeverWinter Nights. Since then, more and more PC games started to use the phone line to match players across the world. First-person shooters like Doom and Quake became runaway success stories, as did strategy games like the Command and Conquer series. These early examples are all precursors to the huge online franchises we see today, like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
Online casinos and gaming for cash
Games that are traditionally played in a casino: blackjack, roulette, and the like, were available to play in some form since the earliest computer games; however online versions of these games did not become widely available until the 90s. Even then, playing them for money over the internet was unheard of. Then, in early 1998, the first online game of poker was played for money. Since then, the online gambling industry has gone from strength to strength. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing all the time and finding new ways to tempt players into having a go at one of the games. Online gambling is so popular, in fact, that these casinos have to find new and innovative ways to advertise, through affiliate marketing (which basically means building sites with reviews, such as this one), online casino SEO services, and others. This is perhaps a mark of just how huge the online gambling arena has become.
Massively multiplayer games
It’s likely you’ve heard of World of Warcraft with its 12 million subscribers all around the world. That fact alone is a testament to how far the industry of online gaming has come. From the humble beginnings in the early 90s to games like WoW and Second Life today, which require players to pay a subscription. These fees soon add up, making MMORPGs one of the most popular forms of video gaming, period. New games are being developed all the time, including the new Star Wars: the Old Republic, which is set to tempt millions more people into the world of online gaming.
What's next for online multiplayer gaming?
The online gaming industry looks set to grow and grow. With more casinos, MMORPGs, and other forms of online competitive games being released all the time, we’re not short on ways to spend our hard-earned cash. And with the web taking an ever-increasing role in all of our lives, and the way that the games industry is evolving year on year, the chances are that games will evolve even more – especially towards the mobile market, with smartphones and ‘apps’ getting more exposure by the day. One thing’s for sure: there’s never been a better time to be an online gamer…you’ll probably never be bored again.