Since the late 20th century and the dawn of the internet, online gaming has been a staple pastime. A source of enjoyment for many, it comes in practically infinite forms, styles and genres, with new titles being developed weekly and an overall estimated industry value of over $100 billion dollars. There’s no doubt about it – gaming is big, and getting bigger. From pocket apps on the go to high end AAA titles, here’s a close-up look at online habits and how they’ve changed over the years.
Connecting with others over the internet hasn’t always been so easy – back in the day, dial up modems and connections battled with concurrent phone lines, older sisters and telemarketers for priority, and getting online was all but guaranteed. The internet was less developed at that time, less practical, and the games themselves nowhere near the standard today, at the very least in graphical terms. But it was a start. It was a foundation, a seed, and one that would eventually blossom with the first console hookups and the development of broadband. As more and more gamers found themselves with the hardware available to enable them to play smoothly and reliably, populations boomed and multiplayer no longer found itself limited to LAN parties in so and so’s basement.
MMOs, forums, and communities rose up over a shared love of playing online, of playing their games, their beloved titles, with others from all around the globe. As laptops became more common, gaming became portable. It became something to be carried around in your bag wherever you were – or perhaps in your pocket, as smartphones carved out their own avenues in the world of mobile gaming. Now a category of its own, mobile gaming is just as diverse as its older sibling. What began with Snake and Tetris is now a positively stuffed smorgasbord of titles – from Angry Birds to poker tables contained within a screen. Live Casino UK at William Hill is just one example, with dozens of live streamed games and setups to be tried, tested and enjoyed. Mobile gaming like this is quintessential online gaming: playable from anywhere, with anyone, at any time.
Outside of mobile, there are the consoles. The PlayStation series, the Xboxes, the handheld Nintendos. With new AAA titles being developed and released for both these and desktop computers every week, online gaming continues to grow exponentially, now with almost three decades worth of backlog: from dial-up and vanilla World of Warcraft to the latest modern titles. Broadband was only the beginning, it seems. While not every game is multiplayer today, the vast majority are, it’s commonplace, and the superfast connections set up all over the world connect more people than ever before. There are competitive leagues for the best of the best, cosmetic rewards and incentives, and with such a wealth of experience at this point we can only hope that developers continue to improve on both the online infrastructure and experience.
What comes next? Only time will tell. But if we follow general trends, the future means more games, more online, and a digital world for all to enjoy.