Online games are computer games played over an internet network. The history of online games traces its origins back to the mid-1990s, when computers first became popular as a means of personal communication. Soon after that, advancements in technology allowed people to play games with other people all around the world. The evolution of online games similarly parallels the development of online computing and internet networking, with ever new technologies enhancing the necessary functionality required for playing online games on a distant server.
The Internet has been responsible for many of the social changes we have seen over the last few decades. One such major change was the birth of massively multiplayer online gaming. The term “mobs” refers to groups of people playing a computer game at the same time. This phenomenon is referred to as the “online community.” The existence of this online community is what led to the first game known as World of Warcraft.
In November of 1994, Blizzard Entertainment was formed by two men, Robert Kaplan and Christian Kermitage. They started playing the popular computer game World of Warcraft (commonly known as WoW) as a way to get acquainted and practice their new internet capabilities. As they were not familiar with the workings of the game, they were apprehensive about creating an online multiplayer gaming environment on which to test their skills. Fortunately, they met members of the guild team called “Leviathan.” The members of this guild included Kaplan, who developed his design skills while playing the original World of Warcraft; and Kermitage, who made his contributions as a graphic artist. After a few months of testing their internet capabilities, Blizzard released a beta version of the game called Warcraft Adventures (a name later changed to World of Warcraft), which included online multiplayer gaming.
Not long after this release, however, another major computer game developer came into existence known as Iridium. This company had been in business for several years and was known for making next-generation telecommunication systems. When it launched its own online gaming world, it quickly became a dominant force in the time-share market. Blizzard Entertainment had learned from the mistakes made by its competitor and added many features that drove more people to play the games. The result was that when the season started up again, the number of players was up forty percent over the previous season.
From the time-share perspective, these added players likely would never have discovered these features if it had not been for the popularity of the World of Warcraft. Through the medium of online gaming, the host-based networks created a time-space distortion effect. Players on host-based networks are not really moving from one location to another, but rather are staying in the same place for longer periods of time. This phenomenon can create the illusion that areas on the map are becoming less crowded. The growth in massively multi-player online role-playing games like World of Warcraft is also an example of this phenomenon. There is a greater emphasis on player interaction than there would be on actually using the tools that might be available in a shared real-world simulation.
To summarize, the story of the history of online gaming begins with games that allowed for the recreation of first-person shooter games, such as Counter-Strike and Day. As those games became more popular, other types of online games were created. Today there are hundreds of games online, involving a first-person shooter game format. The growth of massively multi-player online role-playing games has created a much larger network effect, drawing together a greater number of people from around the world.