I’ve grown up playing games online. It’s fascinating to me that something as “new” as video games–which I know weren’t around for all that long before I was born–could be changed so dramatically already. I feel like people who are not that much older than I remember a very different type of gaming! Experts, I’m curious: what can you tell me about online gaming? How has it changed video gaming in general?
Video games are certainly still “new” in the grand sense of things–they’ve been with us for only a small portion of human history. But if we track video games back to their earliest forms, we’ll see that they’ve actually been around a bit longer than we might think. After all, arcade cabinet games are video games too–and the earliest of that date back to the early 1970s. To remember a world without any video games, you have to be well into your fifties by now!
But, of course, there are plenty of older folks who at least remember when video games were not nearly so ubiquitous as they are now. It took a while for us to get video games into our homes, and longer still for things like 3-D graphics and save files to arrive. And now, of course, the internet is revolutionizing the way we play.
More and more of our favorite games require internet connections–in fact, having an internet connection is now in many ways a necessity for playing video games on consoles and computers. The internet has changed how the video game industry works: in addition to allowing players to play together online, it enables developers to push updates after a game is released, lets publishers sell games as online downloads, and allows console platforms to update operating systems and features.
Even some industries that we might not think about as being video game-centric are being changed dramatically by the internet. Take gambling, for instance. Casinos have digital versions of things like slot machines, and you can play video poker on-site in many brick-and-mortar establishments. And for casinos, the influence of online gaming goes deeper: you can now gamble entirely online, thanks to the rise of online casinos. The ascent of these types of casinos has been dramatic, and changing gambling laws could help them grow even more.
Gambling online is easy–today, a new gamer can grab a bonus code and be gambling in a matter of seconds. And the rise of mobile gaming with apps has made online gambling even more common. State lotteries have followed suit. Today, you can game wherever you are.
And, of course, that’s true of games that aren’t for gambling: in-app gaming has become a phenomenon. In fact, our smartphones and other mobile devices may be the biggest stage that internet gaming has found yet. While we often think of video games in terms of their most involved and dedicated platforms, it’s casual gaming on mobile networks that may best illustrate just how pervasive online gaming has become. It’s a 50-billion-dollar industry, and there are 193 million mobile gamers in the U.S. alone, statistics show.
These are certainly impressive numbers and findings, but there’s probably no reason to be worried about all this gaming. Experts feel that video games are, for the most part, perfectly healthy. So while you should, of course, make sure that online gaming doesn’t keep you from eating healthy and exercising, responsible gamers can enjoy their online games guilt-free.
“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock ‘n’ roll.” – Shigeru Miyamoto