When the internet became more accessible in the 1990’s, gamers began to use this to their advantage; coupled with the increase in PC usage, gamers started playing each other online, on such classics as Counter-Strike and EverQuest.
The first console to ever attempt a foray into the internet was the beloved albeit flawed Sega Dreamcast. Although it launched with great acclaim, it failed to sustain itself in the increasingly competitive gaming market, with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Nintendo’s Game Cube eventually superseding it.
While the Dreamcast has since faded into the realms of nostalgia, online gaming has excelled far beyond what anyone could have imagined; from something of a novelty to a gaming facet. Now, millions of gamers shoot, race and bludgeon each other online every year. The games are, of course, more sophisticated, and the servers hosting them more efficient, though there is always one player in every party with a server that seems to be stuck in the dial-up era. Yet now, it is possible to have games with hundreds of players at once.
It is worth considering how online-gaming has impacted us; it not for gaming, would our internet addiction be the same, or even exist at all? Though we may confine online gaming to the realms of playing Call of Duty or Fifa, the past decade has seen the rise of mobile gaming, where Candy Crush and Clash of Clans reign supreme, with around 93 million people playing Candy Crush back in 2014.
Alongside the mobile and video game revolution, online gaming took a parallel path to the internet. The early 1990’s once again saw the formation of online casinos, which exploded into sports betting and eventually becoming the betting sites we know today, with the size of the industry predicted to reach $56.05 billion in 2018. The latest trend in that area is now matched betting, which seeks to aid the gamer and improve their odds.
But the rise of online gambling ming and gambling has not been without it’s controversy; many critics have claimed that the online space for video games is one rife with xenophobia, sexism and cyber-bullying, and one cannot discount the highly addictive nature of online gambling and video-gaming; a study in 2009 conducted by Iowa State University found that 8.5% of US youths were addicted to video games.
It is often dangerous to summon a witch-hunt against media, as we have seen in the past with heavy metal music, hip hop and television – gaming has already been accused of making those with violent predispositions act upon their desires, or even influence those without any violent tendencies to commit crimes.
Yet though there are instances of gamers acting on their fantasies, we don’t need reminding that most us can play games without wanting to kill every man, woman, child and pet within a 5-mile radius. Just as prohibition didn’t stop people drinking alcohol, and as many politicians are now seeing with drug prohibition, there are a myriad of societal factors that contribute to these problems, and gaming is no different.
The internet and online gaming are not without their misgivings, but they’ve given us so much more than just the ability to get shot just before reaching a killstreak.