Online gaming has become big business for game companies. “World of Warcraft” has over 10 million users and has become one of the most successful games of all time. It brings together all of these players in a unique world that lets them experience an exciting fantasy realm.
The success of this game is just the latest chapter in the history of online games. A casual gamer may think that online gaming began with the birth of the Internet and with games such as “Doom.” However, this is not the case. Online gaming has existed since nearly the dawn of the computer age.
Video game history can be said to start in roughly 1962 when Steve Russell took 200 hours of his life to code the game “Spacewar!” This simple game was single player only. However, Rick Blomme took advantage of Donald Bitzer’s PLATO computer networking system and created a two player version of “Spacewar!” Players rejoiced in the chance to play against each other instead of having to wait turns.
Blomme’s success helped PLATO expand into a system that could, by 1972, support 1,000 players at once. Players coded their own simple games for years, playing against each other on college campuses, one of the few places where large amounts of computers were available at the time. A major breakthrough for online gaming started in 1978. This was the year of “MUD.”
“MUD” stands for “multi-user dungeon.” Essentially, it was a Dungeon’s and Dragon’s simulation that players could explore, fight in and experience with other players. This was a major breakthrough for MMORPGs such as “World of Warcraft.” “MAD” appeared on BITNET in 1984, which was a game available to players worldwide. “Maze Wars” was the NASA created game that helped fuel this system for two years.
Bill Louden created an ASCII-graphics based network in 1985 that allowed players to play simple online games against Commodore 64 and 128 computer users. These peer-to-peer services were popular in the 80′s and included such games as “MegaWars” and “Air Warrior” the first truly graphics based online game.
The boom of the Internet caused a wave of online games to appear. The first graphical RPG, “Neverwinter Nights” was released in 1991. The genre really took off with “Ultima Online” the game which set many of the basic tenets of online RPGs such as freedom to explore a world, interactions and even trolling. “Doom” was the first online shooter game while “Quake” refined many of its concepts in 1996 and streamlined online game play to eliminate lag.
These games help set the standards for online gaming and what it can accomplish. As the Internet has exploded, simple online Flash games have also become popular. These games focus around simple concepts, such as parking a car, playing online pokies, or taking care of a pet and take only a moment to play. These “casual” games have become a major business. Simple programming tools, such as Flash or Game Maker have made it possible for a wider variety of players to create their own games online.
Online gaming sure has come a long way since the primitive “Spacewar!” days. The variety of online gaming options is truly staggering and continues to grow at an exponential rate.
Andrea White has been a passionate gamer for over 15 years. She is currently working as a marketing consultant, working on marketing campaigns for games such as Online Pokies and others. Her greatest love are retro games, and in her free time she enjoys writing articles reminding people of their existence.