Games & Tech | Did You Know

Who Created Online Gaming (And Why Has It Become So Popular?)

Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Online gaming has been around for almost half a century. In fact, its origins precede the Internet. Although its origins were humble, online gaming has grown into a behemoth, multi-billion dollar industry that appeals to people from all over the world regardless of their background, ethnicity, or acquisitive power.

To truly understand why it has become so popular, we’re going to take a look at the origins of the online gaming industry and break down all you need to know about it.

ARPANET: Where It All Began

The first online gaming title to ever exist was a text-based fantasy game that was born at the University of Essex, in England. The game was created by students of the institution in 1980 and it was played among themselves, using the United States ARPANET network, which was available on the campus.

The game was called MUD (which stands for Multi-User Dungeon) and it is widely regarded as the very first online game, and the title is responsible for paving the way for the creation of many other games as the years have gone by.

The Eternal Relationship Between Online Gaming and Casinos

Online gaming and gambling have been closely related since the introduction of online casinos. According to research by The Casino Wizard, over 1.6 billion people partake in online gambling, or some sort of gambling, at least once a year. After the foundation of the online lottery site operated by the government of Lichtenstein, hundreds of thousands of online gambling venues started appearing all over the world.

Unlike games like MMOs and titles with virtual economies that allowed players to trade in-game items and currency for real cash, online casinos solely focused on offering players luck-based games that allowed gamblers to play and win real money in an environment aimed to recreate the land-based casino experience.

Casino Gaming in a Nutshell

Microgaming, one of the world’s biggest developers of online casino games, introduced the first piece of iGaming software in 1994. Poker sites started appearing in 1998 after the foundation of Planet Poker, and online casinos consolidated their place in the online gambling industry across the 2000s.

Albeit the industry started with a focus on providing PC users with the chance to gamble online, the popularity of smartphones shifted the balance of the scales in the mid-2010s. Today, more people gamble on their phones than they do on computers. The modern iGaming industry is worth a staggering $40 billion per year!

The Rise of the MMO Genre

MMOs, also known as Massive Multiplayer Online games, tick all the right boxes when it comes to player expectations. They allow users to embody a character of their own creation and join others to complete quests, join guilds, and fight epic battles. The humble origins of these games have led to the development of some of the most popular titles of all time.

In fact, MUD is the precursor to now legendary games like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and one of the most popular Asian games of all time, Lineage.

The Influence of Virtual Economies on Online Games

The relevance of online gaming led to the rise of virtual economies. Basically, online games became so popular (MMOs in particular) that players were willing to spend money out of their own pockets to purchase in-game goods, so they could have an edge over other users.

Games like World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike GO have allowed virtual economies to thrive. Although some developers opted to ban in-game transactions based on real-life currency, others accommodated their games to help players make trades in a safer setting. This led to the rise of item stores, as well as third-party websites that helped players buy and sell gaming goods.

Thus, players with high-level accounts or players who had access to valuable items started being able to make serious money by simply playing video games – long before streaming or YouTube were big (or even a thing!).

The growth of virtual economies has been crucial to the popularity of online games, with many companies focusing on “gold farming”, an activity that consists of hoarding gold in certain games (which is usually done by players that reside in countries with weak economies) to then sell for a profit on markets like the South Korean, West European, or North American.

Verdict – Will Online Gaming Remain Relevant in the Future?

People crave entertainment and cherish competitiveness, which means that online gaming is not going anywhere unless the world takes a very drastic turn. Playing online games is fun and addictive, and the constant introduction of new games makes it easy to predict that the industry will continue to boom in the coming years.

Should you opt to play games that require an investment from your own pocket, such as those found in online casinos, remember that moderation is key to long-term entertainment and for your mental stability. The same goes for MMOs and competitive online games: it’s important to know when to quit and not to let your emotions take over in a negative manner.

Head of Content, reality TV watcher and lover of cookies.