Games with online multiplayer allow multiple players to interact in the same game world at the same time. These games typically utilize the internet to enable interaction, but can also use local area network (LAN) or local area wireless technology to allow a small group of players to play together in the same room. Online multiplayer games are a staple of the video game industry and have become a popular way for gamers to connect with one another, socialize, compete, and even create friendships.
There are a wide variety of multiplayer online games available, from tense and calculated strategy titles like Command and Conquer and StarCraft to frenetic first-person shooters and survival games. Many of these games feature complex gameplay and glistening visuals, but the real star of any multiplayer experience is the people playing them. Whether vying for control of the payload in a FPS or fighting for survival in a co-op game, it is the players that make the experience what it is.
The multiplayer online gaming phenomenon has grown since the ’90s, when legendary games such as Doom and Quake helped to pioneer the genre by offering networked multiplayer via LAN or a special matchmaking service. As the internet became more widespread, MMORPGs began to rise in popularity and brought new meaning to the concept of multiplayer gaming by enabling gamers to team up or fight each other in massive virtual worlds.
Today, the best multiplayer online games continue to push boundaries with immersive audio-visuals that can be adjusted by the player. For example, in the PlayStation 4 exclusive Call of Duty, when a player is close to an explosion, the sound is muffled, there is a ringing in the ear (simulating tinnitus) and the vision is blurred to create a visceral, real-world experience.
The recent emergence of free-to-play multiplayer games has expanded the multiplayer experience to include a variety of styles that would not have existed before. Rockstar’s open-world games are popular examples, with Grand Theft Auto Online allowing gamers to take on heists and missions in Los Angeles, while PUBG has taken the battle royale genre by storm by requiring 100 players to drop onto an island, search for loot, and eliminate each other until only one player remains.
In addition to providing a fun and engaging way for gamers to socialize with friends, online multiplayer games can be beneficial for children. They can help them develop teamwork skills and encourage them to experiment with different identities in virtual spaces that are often more comfortable than their physical ones. For many kids, online multiplayer games are also a safe space to connect with peers who might not fit in at school or home, and can help to build confidence and self-esteem. For families with disabled kids, these games can be a lifeline to other children who have similar experiences.