Electronic Games


Building on the success of interactive games played on consoles and computers, some companies have branched out into new platforms. One of the fastest-growing gaming platforms is the Internet. While the first multi-user dungeon game (or MUD, online role-playing game worlds involving multiple players) appeared in 1979, recent developments have made Internet, or online, gaming a unique platform unto itself.

One type of popular Internet game is characterized by its “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) worlds, in which hundreds and even thousands of players can socialize and compete with one another. These games are also sometimes known as massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. With 100,000 paid subscribers by 2000, Origin Systems’ Ultima Online was the first economically successful MMO game. Games such as Sony’s EverQuest and Microsoft’s Asheron’s Call built on this popularity and on the expanding availability of broadband Internet access. Other popular MMO games include The Sims, World of Warcraft, and Lineage. Developments in the console game market, such as Microsoft’s Xbox Live feature, were also able to take advantage of the Internet to connect gamers and enhance their games. Xbox Live had attracted about 2 million paid subscribers by the end of 2005.

The rapid pace of technological growth appears to offer a bright future for the electronic-games industry. Several companies now publish games for handheld personal digital assistants as well as for cell phones. The popularity of electronic games today actually drives the development of new technologies because companies see a huge, lucrative market in which to release new products. Cutting-edge developments such as virtual reality may eventually be introduced to a mass audience through video games, breaking new technological ground in society through play.

Contributed By: Steven L. Kent

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