7. Play - online games
Transcript

When I’m not outside perfecting my footie skills, I enjoy online games. So I thought I’d find out a bit more about them.

While exploring the ‘Living Internet’ website, I discovered that the first widely used, interactive computer game was called ‘Adventure’ and was developed in the mid 1970s by a guy called Will Crowther. In Adventure, the player was part of an ongoing story, set in the fantasy world of a cave. Each time the computer described a new situation the player would type in simple English what they wanted to do next. Will let his workmates try out his game. Lots of them loved it and passed it on to their friends, who then passed it on to their friends. Gradually, Adventure became really popular.

However, Adventure wasn’t a ‘multi-user’ game like the ones played online these days, because each person played on their own, rather than joining in with other players in one big game. In fact, the first truly multi-user game was called ‘Multi-User Dungeon’ or ‘MUD’ for short.

The original MUD was created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle in 1978, at Essex University, in the UK. For the first time in gaming history, loads of players could participate in the same virtual world at the same time. Initially, MUD could only be played by students on the Essex University network. After a while, players from outside were able to join in by dialling in to the university network and the game’s popularity grew.

Many players, who had enjoyed playing MUD, went on to design their own games. The name ‘MUD’ was so catchy among gamers that it ended up being used to describe any game played by lots of people on the Internet.

In the early 1990s, advances in MUD technology let participants create new places, objects and abilities in the virtual spaces they explored. Then, in the mid 1990s, commercial MUDs went live on the Internet, attracting even more players.

A game called ‘Legends of Terris’ was hosted at what is widely believed to be the first Internet café, ‘Cyberia’, which was in a back street in London’s West End. For some time, Legends of Terris was considered one of the largest commercial MUDs in Europe.

The original MUDs were text-based and required players to use their imaginations to create a ‘virtual world’. Advances in technology meant that computer graphics started being used to represent the fantasy worlds and the characters within them.

More recently, broadband has let players actually talk to each other while playing, using Voice Over Internet Protocol software (VOIP). One of the most popular choices among online gamers is ‘Roger Wilco’ – a free voice chat application created in 1999. It’s used with a special headset and allows players more control over their game, as they can talk directly to the other competitors, rather than typing messages to them.

When I think about how quickly online gaming is developing – I can’t wait to see what players will be able to do next!