History Of Online Gaming Explained


Remember Maze War? Online gaming in the 70's was downright primitive. Take a quick tour down gaming memory lane.

A Quick History Of Playing Games Online

Today you can find any type of online game - casino, adventure, puzzle, MMORPG, or first-person shooters. Millions and millions of people are online every day. What started 40 years ago as simple text-based games has evolved into complicated and elaborate multiplayer games using the latest technology. Here is a short, abridge history of online gaming.


Multiplayer games were first developed in the early 1970s on a platform called PLATO, a computer assisted instruction system created by the University of Illinois and Control Data Corporation that let students interact with each other on different terminals. Students began programming simple games called MUDs, or Multi-User Dungeons. These games had no graphics, but used different descriptions and text to simulate characters and maps.

Maze War was also developed in the 70s and is considered by some to be the first first-person shooter. It was also one of the first games to use graphics and avatars and was played on a peer-to-peer connection.


MUDs slowly became more complicated and MAD (Multi-Access Dungeon) was created in 1984, becoming the first global MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). The Island of Kesmai was released in 1985 as the first commercial online role playing game.


The revolutionary first-person shooter DOOM was released in 1993. The 3D graphics were mind-blowing at the time and had a death match feature where players could hook into a LAN and play together. This became so popular it caused load problems on many networks. Copycat 3D first-person shooters began popping up soon thereafter, like Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior.

Quake followed in 1996, treating the online experience as vital portion of the gaming experience. It also introduced new networking technology called client-side protection, which greatly reduced lag.

The late 90s was also the dawn of MMORPGs. Ultima Online was released in 1997 and was the first game to have over 100,000subscribers. This was the first time thousands of players could freely interact with each other in the same world.


LAN parties were now popular, where players would often stay late after work to play games on the company’s speedy network. Diablo II was released in 2000, winning a Guinness World Record for the fastest selling computer game with over 1 million copies. 2001 saw the release of Halo and Xbox Live followed in 2002. The Steam network was also released in 2002, changing how many players purchased and played games online. Massively popular titles Call of Duty and World of Warcraft were launched in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Zynga launched in 2007, getting over 100,000 subscribers in just one day. At one time, the company claimed about 270 million users across its various Facebook games.

2010 and Beyond

Technology keeps making it possible for more and more people to connect on games with increasingly impressive graphics. With so many options out there, from FPS to casino games, it is no wonder that people of all ages play games online every day.


Date of original publication:
Updated on: July 12, 2017

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