Playing the Digital World

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Online Games: Blast from the Past

The development of online games sector effectively paralleled with the development of computer technologies. As computer processor capabilities and graphics became more powerful, online games evolved directly into the massive industry what it is right now.

In the 1960’s, the two player game “Spacewars” was the first online gaming platform created. Slug Russell, Shag Graetz and Wayne Witaenem conceived the game in 1961, with the intent of implementing it on a DEC PDP – 1 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From that concept of several online games players in direct competition with each other while in the very same game, multiple users, or multi-user games, took shape over the PC bulletin board system starting in the 1970’s. Using hardwired terminals located in neighborhoods. The first public BBS was developed by Ward Christensen.

Image courtesy of wheels.org

Personal computers grew to become so powerful, that over time, were capable of managing the vast majority online games interactions involving the internet world as well as its players. Artificial Intelligence (AI), a study and design of intelligent agents, were written that helped perform these tasks for online games with ease. In 1975, Colossal Cave Adventure was created by Will Crowther on a DEC PDP-10 computer and was the first widely used adventure game. Then in 1978, at the Essex University in UK, Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartell invented the first MUD (multi-user dungeon) a multi-user adventure game. In 1980, Trubshaw converted MUD to BCPL (the predecessor of C). It is the first internet multiplayer role-playing game in 1980. Players saw textual descriptions as they traveled from room to room, and all other characters, creatures, and objects existed only as textual descriptions.

As computer technology advanced, so did computer games and online games. By 1994 the company ID Software revolutionized the online games industry when they released the computer game Doom, the first FPS (first person shooter). Doom featured a build-in networking capability, allowing up to 4 players to play the game at one time by using a Local Area Network (LAN). After Doom, the game Quake was released, which provided up to 16 players to play the game simultaneously. These were considered of the Action First Person Shooter genre, and action packed they were!

Soon, these first person shooters became integrated with the Internet, and by the late 90’s gamers were playing first person shooters across the Internet by the millions. At the same time, strategy computer games such as Warcraft, a real time strategy (RTS) game which was released in November of 1994 by Blizzard Entertainment and it began to offer multi-player gaming within the virtual three dimensional game worlds. Online gaming was even more on the rise.

Image courtesy of retro.ign.com

The Online Games Industry Today

Today, almost every computer game on the market provides for multi-player online games. Game servers online are almost as plentiful as web hosting servers — and the number of gamers who make their way into these virtual worlds is growing exponentially. Mobile online games and browser based casual online gaming are on the rise too. And now, most of the online games are free for everyone in able to experience great online games.

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