Internet Gaming: Demystifying the Attraction
An introduction to Internet gaming and what attracts gamers
By: Bruce Bahlmann - Contributing Author (your
is important to us!)
Note: This article is based on a white paper written about
online gaming for broadband as well as completed
research about online gaming.
Both of these are available for purchase from Birds-Eye.Net.
Internet gaming is one of the hottest growing markets in the world. Among todays
hundreds/thousands of game titles for personal computers lies the even older (perhaps even
larger) isolated market for game consoles played on consumer televisions. The advent of
widely available broadband Internet connectivity along with recent game consoles from
Microsoft and Sony that now include Ethernet ports present the potential for an
interesting merger of the two previously separate industries. This merger creates
unlimited possibilities for nearly anyone whose game!
So what is the big deal with having a multitude of games to play out on the Internet?
Why is this significant? Furthermore, what drives people to play games, especially
Internet games? All questions one should understand before gaming will make any sense to
the average person non-gamer!
Have you ever played pong? You know, the really old video game where you
would manipulate some device (dial/joy stick) to move a bar up and down a screen in an
effort to deflect a ball-like object against a wall. I recall people, including myself,
spending hours playing that game a match of skill against a computer who could
actually make each deflection increasingly difficult. After a while you either get
frustrated and give up or beat the game and thus the fun runs out. While pong is a
pathetically simplistic example of a solo game, this concept of either giving up or the
fun running out applies to any game you play against the computer. The computer is simply
a boring opponent!
New games out on the market come with increasing intelligence, graphics, and sounds
(even voices) that certainly grab your attention and can hold it for hours (if not
). However, in the end, the same thing happens either you get
frustrated and give up or you beat the game and the fun runs out.
The Internet has changed EVERYTHING when it comes to games. Take a small software
gaming company called ID, it has 17 employees, two blockbuster games, and 20 million a
year in revenue - gaming is big business! ID figured out that gamers eventually find
playing against the computer lame, so they developed a way for gamers to play against each
other across a network to make play more interesting/unpredictable. So instead of
playing against some computer, you can now play with your friends, your co-workers, pretty
much anyone worldwide. As these Internet games evolved so did the variations of play.
Take one game produced by ID and one of its blockbuster hits Quake. There are
two versions of the initial game available: Quake and QuakeWorld. While they are
relatively the same game, QuakeWorld was developed more as an Internet friendly game. The
Internet version of Quake leverages three pieces of software to offer it on-line: game
servers, game clients, and master servers. These three entities play in important roll in
the wide spread popularity of the game. The game server actually hosts the game. The
master server allows the game servers to post/advertise its games on it whereby
allowing gamers to find these games. The game client allows Internet gamers to play the
The difference between the standalone game distributed to consumers on CD and the
games on the Internet are extensive! First of all, its not just a single out-of-the-box
game gamers play out on the Internet virtually anything is possible. Quake supports
user modifications (or mods as gamers call them) a program interface limited only
by ones imagination! So the owners of the game servers can select different maps and
rotations that the players will encounter along with a multitude of other performance
settings and game play environment parameters. You can even build your own maps
there are hundreds of custom maps created by die-hard gamers who have build whole cities,
starships, etc. Beyond that you can even totally change the game from one person against
everyone to team play, or even change the game play. QuakeWorld for example supports a
number of different games (mods) including Deathmatch, Fortress, Capture the flag, paint
ball, etc. While all these games fit within the confines supported by the games
graphics and basic capability (shoot-em-up), they all represent drastically different play
and attract different types of players.
The game play of Internet servers goes beyond what of your typical computer opponent is
capable even the most complex/smart ones. The reason for this is because players
find a way to push the game to the limits even cheat at it! Some players are so
good they take the game to another level (e.g. shooting while flying, hiding up in the
rafters, etc.). These players seek out other players of their skill or greater
which they can only find on the Internet. Thus as players increase their skill, they
consistently seek out more advanced players to compete against Internet games host
an endless supply of talented gamers.
Each player can also express him/her self in games. For example they can create and
wear different skins (e.g. football uniform, male/female, monster, etc.). Expression can
take on a kind of cult where players form clans and play together challenging other clans
or groups of players. There is even the capability for players to express themselves
verbally I refer to this as physiological warfare as they can make fun of other
players, taunt them, just about anything to distract you.
With the convergence of personal computers and game consoles onto the Internet, a whole
new realm of game play will unfold. This next generation of these Internet games will be
increasingly rich in multi-media and attract even larger audiences than before.
Understanding gamers requires you to understand their passion. Ive only given you an
introduction, but encourage you to experience it yourself. Note the craze will be soft
spoken and primarily out of the publics eye. If youre not a gamer youll
never really know what drives them and how powerful and addictive this experience can be.
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