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About online gaming
The world of online gaming is extensive and comes in so many textures and flavors, it could easily be the subject of endless discussion. But what is online gaming? Who likes to play? Who has been ignored? What are the risks associated with online gaming? Online gaming is the use of video games across a network which utilizes the Internet allowing simultaneous interactive play between multiple remote users on a computer or a game console, located adjacently or anywhere in the world.
Online gaming history
Online gaming has been in existence as far back as 1973, with the advent of a game called Empire created by John Daleske (Daleske). The game is arguably considered to be the first in its and was a space craft game of war where players entered their commands through keystrokes (Hachman).
The environment used by Daleske, a student at Iowa State University, was called PLATO, a pre-Facebook educational social network which had instant messaging, email, network games and a notes system (Daleske). Maze War, by Steve Colley, was the first peer-to-peer (P2P), 3D first person shooter multiplayer game, and possibly the first frames per second (FPS) (Hachman). Since PLATO, social media has grown in popularity and influences our culture.
The game had a major impact on subsequent titles. Other titles that operated on the PLATO network in the 70s were Spasim, Moria, and Dubliette, and Multi-User Dungeon (MUD). The 1980s saw the birth of Multi-Access Dungeon (MAD), the first global access game, so popular that it was prohibited from residing on its network, BITNET, after only two years of operation.
In 1984, the Islands of Kesmai was the first online role playing game. The game was part of the Compuserve internet provider service, a predecessor of AOL, Verizon, and Xfinity. Additional gaming players in the 80s included Habitat, SGI Dogfight, Air Warrior, Netrek, and Federation (Hachman).
The 1990s saw the creation of Meganet, a console-based online gaming choice, dropped in Japan due to failure to launch and was consequently never introduced to the North American market. The 1990s had a healthy birth of online games offering unique contributions to the evolution of the class, notably, NeverWinter Nights, on AOL in 1991, the first three-dimensional MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game).
Microgaming, the first online casino in 1996, Intertops, Everquest by Sony, brags the first game to sell in-game virtual products with real money and the first with over 100,000 concurrent users, and Snake II, the first multiplayer mobile access game (Hachman). In the new millennium, online gaming transitioned to even greater heights than previously known. The 2000s have spawned the enhancement of online games to a level that millions of players around the world are obsessed with.
Online gaming demographics
The demographics age for gamers is quite stunning! The average gamer is 31 years old (Grubb). Not what you were thinking? Next shocker – there are more gamers over 36 than there are within the age bracket of 18 to 35 or under 18 (Grubb).
Let’s continue with the astonishing statistics:
- 58% of gamers are men
- 48% are women
- 64% of online gamers are women
There is a difference between most of the online favorites for women (Witkop). Cake Shop 2, World of Warcraft, Bejeweled 2, Crosswords and Sudoku and Farmville are the top five favorites for women. Men are more drawn to fighting games, role-play, action and strategy games (Phan, Jardina Hoyle).
Sadly, some women are experiencing sexual harassment, a form of cyber bullying, in online gaming (Rosen). Perhaps it should not be so surprising because it is a reality in the real world. It is likely that when a person believes that they are under the cover of anonymity, as is the case in online gaming, that they might be more likely to do what they would not do normally since they have a false sense of limited consequences or meaningful retribution. Some women have reported threats of rape and death.
Actually, threats in the online gaming world are not limited to women. A former Microsoft Xbox expert stated that he regularly fielded reports of threats from other players, and they were not all women.
There are over half a billion people who play online games around the world (Singh). Daily online players are geographically distinguished, with those located in Asia Pacific having the highest representation, at 47.9 million; Europe is not far behind with 45.6 million; North Americans are no slackers – with 30.3 million online gamers playing daily. Latin American has 14.9 million, while Middle East Africa comes in at 6.2 million (Singh).
There is not a lot of socioeconomic data regarding online gamers and their backgrounds. In fact, MacCallum-Stewart, in her book entitled Online Games, Social Narratives, balks at the notion that we can identify the socioeconomic standing of the online gamer and says:
The “. . . often repeated definition of the ‘average gamer’ as 35, lower middle class, white . . . is . . . virtually meaningless” (2014).
Yet, if you look at the Microsoft Xbox Live page, which is an invitation to consumers who visit the page to become a Microsoft online subscriber, the advertisements stereotype particular genders ;and all images appear to be young whites (“Microsoft”). It is reasonable to assume that the key demographic, the broadest cross-section of people who purchase their online live product, would be fairly represented in their advertising.
It is also reasonable to assume that Microsoft is a smart company who understands the importance of ensuring their imaging is appropriately directed to their key demographic, so, it is fair to say that the majority of subscribers for Microsoft’s online gaming are probably young, white males and females, who have enough disposable income to purchase their subscription consistently, and who can afford to purchase their games and other accessories.
Online gaming genres
There are a number of online gaming genres. They are categorized to aid players in identifying the type of game they would enjoy playing most. Some of the major online gaming genres are:
- Action Adventure – like Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge – adventures of the leader of a fortune hunter gang
- Card Board – like Scrabble – the classic board game
- Family – like Rockstar Table Tennis – game of tennis
- Fighting – like Prison Break – prisoner reconnaissance inside penitentiary
- Racing Flying – like Project Gotham Racing 2 – auto racing
- Role Playing – like Phantasy Star Online Episodes I II – investigative hunters embark on the search for missing pioneers a new planet
- First Person Shooter – like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3– close combat, sniping, terrorism and counter-terrorism, where the villain tries to create an international Fascist movement
- Sports Recreation – like ESPN NHL Hockey – hockey
- Strategy Simulation – like Battle Stations Pacific – action strategy directing air, sea and undersea units (Goldstein)
- Video gameplay is fun, but online gaming intensifies the stakes, and it’s fun playing against or with others who share the same passion.
While people still play the lottery more than online gambling, another type of gaming is found in online games of chance or online gambling. In 1994, Antigua and Barbuda passed legislation that allowed companies to apply to establish online casinos (“The History”). Then number of online casinos mushroomed from 15 to over 200 within a very short period of time, with revenues in excess of $830 million in 1998. In 1999, multiplayer online gambling was introduced, allowing gambling, communication through chat, and interactive interplay (“The History”).
In 1996, the first sports book made its appearance online (“The History”). Sports book allows a gambler to place bets on sports competition outcomes, including horse racing, basketball, football, baseball, boxing, and others. The sports book is legal in Delaware, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana. Online sports book wagering sites have matured and achieved great success.
In addition to the standard approach, in the year 2000, the industry introduced peer-to-peer wagering, where gamblers create their own betting topic and bet amongst themselves. The next iteration in the category was live sports book, where players could place their bets while the sports event was actually occurring (“The History”). The most recent development has been mobile betting by phone or by tablet.
Other Online Gambling
Other online gambling categories include poker which represents approximately 21.43% of gambling-type games, bingo which represents 13.47%, lottery which represents 4.68%, horse race betting, and mobile gambling. (Church-Sanders).
Online gaming addiction
All fun and exciting things, when taken too far create problems. If you eat too much, you’ll get fat, if you drink too much, you could become an alcoholic, and similarly, if you are obsessed by video games or online gaming, you can also develop an addiction. This is the dark, often hidden side of online gaming. We are used to hearing about drug addictions and understand the devastating effects, but online gaming addiction has an odd ring to it. South Korea is one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries from a broadband perspective and a leader in diagnosing and treating online gaming addiction (Sutter).
A government report indicates approximately eight percent of the country have experienced gaming or online gaming addiction. In the United States, although the problem is not yet recognized as a disorder, the American Psychiatric Association has proposed to include “Internet Use Disorder” in the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the next time the manual is revised, as needing additional study (Sutter). Today, Dr. Han Doug-hyun, from South Korea, is a noted leader in the field. His treatment process for the addiction is similar to the way that alcoholics are treated. He incorporates counseling and virtual-reality therapy.
Dr. Han suggests the following warning signs:
- Disrupted regular life pattern. If a person plays games all night long and sleeps in the daytime, that can be a warning he or she should seek professional help
- The potential gaming or Internet addict loses his or her job or stops going to school in order to be online or to play a digital game
- Need for a bigger fix. Does the gamer have to play for longer and longer periods in order to get the same level of enjoyment from the game?
- Withdrawal. Some Internet and gaming addicts become irritable or anxious when they disconnect, or when they are forced to do so
- Cravings. Some Internet and gaming addicts experience cravings, or the need to play the game or be online when they are away from the digital world (Sutter)
Online gaming is fun. It’s especially great because you can access it at your convenience any time of day, under any circumstances. There seems to be an online gaming genre that can appeal to everyone’s proclivities. Though with all enjoyable and entertaining choices, we must learn to implement controls, otherwise, addictions could be in-store.
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