The history of online gaming can be traced back to the early 1980’s with the advent of the personal computer and the internet. Instead of playing a game by yourself, you suddenly had the ability to play either against or cooperatively with another person somewhere else.
Although email based games were available much earlier earlier, the first real online games were text based role-playing games called ‘MUDs’ (Multi-User Dungeon, Domain or Dimension). These games allowed multiple people to play at once in the same scenario. MUDs were in much of the same format as current day titles like WoW (World of Warcraft). Both games are relied on chance, similar to rules used in the popular board game ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ The only difference being that MUDs used textual descriptions in replace of graphics.
The next revolution in online gaming came with the first person shooter. Unlike MUDs before it, first person shooters replaced the text descriptions with graphical representations on the screen. Wolfenstein 3D was the first notable title to do this. Equally, if not more popular, was DOOM. First-person shooters typically allowed a small number of users (10 or so) to play at once. As computer technology grew, games became more and more graphic intensive. With the internet being more readily available, online games were able to support massive amounts of simultaneous players. Hence, the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) was born. Players could now form entire online communities in a virtual world. Popular MMORPG titles include Everquest, Guild Wars, WoW, plus many others. WoW currently has over 10 million subscribers.
The following was taken from the Blizzard website: “PARIS, France. 22 January, 2008 — Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that subscribership for World of Warcraft, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has continued to climb, recently passing 10 million worldwide. Interest in the game has remained high in all regions, with thousands of new and returning players signing up through the holiday season. World of Warcraft now hosts more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America, and approximately 5.5 million in Asia.”
MMORPG ratings are based on several factors and some are entirely subjective. The deciding factors include popularity and community. Some of the most well known MMORPGs are: 1) World of Warcraft 2) Lord of the Rings Online 3) Eve Online 4) Final Fantasy XI 5) City of Heroes/City of Villains 6) Warhammer Online 7) Age of Conan 8) Pirates of the Burning Sea 9) Dark Age of Camelot 10) Star Wars Galaxies