Electronic games have evolved dramatically in recent years. As data bandwidth, processing power, and screen resolutions are constantly increasing; developers are keeping up the pace to deliver more realistic and immersive Internet entertainment experiences. It’s hard to imagine a world without the wealth of online gaming that today’s Internet users have come to expect, but the history of online gaming goes back long before the widespread adoption of the Internet.
The first games to be played over computer networks were developed in the early 1970s. These were built on multi-user timesharing terminals at universities. The latter part of that decade saw the advent of multi-user dungeons (MUDs), which later evolved into multiple-access dungeons (MADs) and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
In 1985, the game Islands of Kesmai was released for users of the CompuServe commercial computer network. With graphics made up of ASCII text characters, this multiplayer role-playing game bore little resemblance to today’s games; but in many ways, it was a precursor to the modern MMORPG. The fantasy RPG battles in this game are among the earliest ancestors of today’s online fighting games.
Later, in the 1980s, the first games were developed that used Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate. In 1991, the Neverwinter Nights game was released for AOL subscribers. This is widely acclaimed as the first 3D graphical MMORPG. As the Internet grew in popularity with the general public, the 1990s saw an explosion of online role-playing, shooting, strategy, and fighting games with multiplayer capabilities. Some of the most notable are Doom, Warcraft, and Quake.
The year 2002 saw the launch of gaming networks like XBox Live and Steam. As social media grew in popularity throughout the decade, companies like Zynga jumped on the bandwagon to create casual games that users could play against their friends. Today, the options for online gaming range from commercial software packages to social media gaming, browser-based gaming, and even mobile apps.