A multiplayer video game is a video game in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same time, either locally and on the same computing system (e.g. New Super Mario Bros. Wii ), locally and on different computing systems via a local area network, or via a wide area network, most commonly the Internet (e.g. World of Warcraft , Call of Duty ). Multiplayer games usually require players to share a single game system or use networking technology to play together over a greater distance; players may compete against one or more human contestants, work cooperatively with a human partner to achieve a common goal, or supervise other players' activity. Due to multiplayer games allowing players to interact with other individuals, they provide an element of social communication absent from single-player games.
Some of the earliest video games were two-player games, including early sports games (such as 1958's Tennis For Two and 1972's Pong ), early shooter games such as Spacewar! (1962)and early racing video games such as Astro Race (1973). The first examples of multiplayer real-time games were developed on the PLATO system about 1973. Multi-user games developed on this system included 1973's Empire and 1974's Spasim; the latter was an early first-person shooter. Other early video games included turn-based multiplayer modes, popular in tabletop arcade machines. In such games, play is alternated at some point (often after the loss of a life). All players' scores are often displayed onscreen so players can see their relative standing. Danielle Bunten Berry created some of the first multiplayer video games, such as her debut, Wheeler Dealers (1978) and her most notable work, M.U.L.E. (1983).
Gauntlet (1985) and Quartet (1986) introduced co-operative 4-player gaming to the arcades. The games had broader consoles to allow for four sets of controls.
The first large-scale serial sessions using a single computer[ citation needed ] were STAR (based on Star Trek ), OCEAN (a battle using ships, submarines and helicopters, with players divided between two combating cities) and 1975's CAVE (based on Dungeons and Dragons), created by Christopher Caldwell (with artwork and suggestions by Roger Long and assembly coding by Robert Kenney) on the University of New Hampshire's DECsystem-1090. The university's computer system had hundreds of terminals, connected (via serial lines) through cluster PDP-11s for student, teacher, and staff access. The games had a program running on each terminal (for each player), sharing a segment of shared memory (known as the "high segment" in the OS TOPS-10). The games became popular, and the university often banned them because of their RAM use. STAR was based on 1974's single-user, turn-oriented BASIC program STAR, written by Michael O'Shaughnessy at UNH.
Ken Wasserman and Tim Stryker in a 1980 BYTE article identified three factors which make networked computer games appealing:
Wasserman and Stryker described how to network two Commodore PET computers with a cable. Their article includes a type-in, two-player Hangman, and describes the authors' more-sophisticated Flash Attack.Digital Equipment Corporation distributed another multi-user version of Star Trek, Decwar, without real-time screen updating; it was widely distributed to universities with DECsystem-10s. In 1981 Cliff Zimmerman wrote an homage to Star Trek in MACRO-10 for DECsystem-10s and -20s using VT100-series graphics. "VTtrek" pitted four Federation players against four Klingons in a three-dimensional universe.
Flight Simulator II , released in 1986 for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, allowed two players to connect via modem or serial cable and fly together in a shared environment.
MIDI Maze , an early first-person shooter released in 1987 for the Atari ST, featured network multiplay through a MIDI interface before Ethernet and Internet play became common. It is considered[ by whom? ] the first multiplayer 3D shooter on a mainstream system, and the first network multiplayer action-game (with support for up to 16 players). There followed ports to a number of platforms (including Game Boy and Super NES) in 1991 under the title Faceball 2000, making it one of the first handheld, multi-platform first-person shooters and an early console example of the genre.
Networked multiplayer gaming modes are known as "netplay". The first popular video-game title with a Local Area Network(LAN) version, 1991's Spectre for the Apple Macintosh, featured AppleTalk support for up to eight players. Spectre's popularity was partially attributed[ by whom? ] to the display of a player's name above their cybertank. There followed 1993's Doom, whose first network version allowed four simultaneous players.
Play-by-email multiplayer games use email to communicate between computers. Other turn-based variations not requiring players to be online simultaneously are Play-by-post gaming and Play-by-Internet. Some online games are "massively multiplayer", with many players participating simultaneously. Two massively-multiplayer genres are MMORPG (such as World of Warcraft or EverQuest ) and MMORTS.
First-person shooters have become popular multiplayer games; Battlefield 1942 and Counter-Strike have little (or no) single-player gameplay. Developer and gaming site OMGPOP's library included multiplayer Flash games for the casual player until it was shut down in 2013. Some networked multiplayer games, including MUDs and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) such as RuneScape, omit a single-player mode. The largest MMO in 2008 was World of Warcraft, with over 10 million registered players worldwide. World of Warcraft would hit its peak at 12 million players two years later in 2010, and in 2020 earned the Guinness World Record for best selling MMO video game. This category of games requires multiple machines to connect via the Internet; before the Internet became popular, MUDs were played on time-sharing computer systems and games like Doom were played on a LAN.
Beginning with the Sega NetLink in 1996, Game.com in 1997 and Dreamcast in 2000, game consoles support network gaming over LANs and the Internet. Many mobile phones and handheld consoles also offer wireless gaming with Bluetooth (or similar) technology. By the early 2010s online gaming had become a mainstay of console platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation.[ citation needed ] During the 2010s, as the number of Internet users increased, two new video game genres rapidly gained worldwide popularity – multiplayer online battle arena and battle royale game, both designed exclusively for multiplayer gameplay over the Internet.
Over time the number of people playing video games has increased. In 2020, the majority of households in the United States have an occupant that plays video games, and 65% of gamers play multiplayer games with others either online or in person.
For some games, "multiplayer" implies that players are playing on the same gaming system or network. This applies to all arcade games, but also to a number of console, and personal computer games, as well. Local multiplayer games played on a singular system sometimes use split screen, so each player has an individual view of the action (important in first-person shooters and in racing video games) Nearly all multiplayer modes on beat 'em up games have a single-system option, but racing games have started to abandon split-screen in favor of a multiple-system, multiplayer mode. Turn-based games such as chess also lend themselves to single system single screen and even to a single controller.
Multiple types of games allow players to use local multiplayer. The term "local co-op" or "couch co-op" refers to local multiplayer games played in a cooperative manner on the same system; these may use split-screen or some other display method. Another option is hotseat games. Hotseat games are typically turn-based games with only one controller or input set –such as a single keyboard/mouse on the system. Players rotate using the input device to perform their turn such that each is taking a turn on the "hotseat".
Not all local multiplayer games are played on the same console or personal computer. Some local multiplayer games are played over a LAN. This involves multiple devices using one local network to play together. Networked multiplayer games on LAN eliminate common problems faced when playing online such as lag and anonymity. Games played on a LAN network are the focus of LAN parties. While local co-op and LAN parties still take place, there has been a decrease in both due to an increasing number of players and games utilizing online multiplayer gaming.
Online multiplayer games connect players over a wide area network (a common example being the Internet). Unlike local multiplayer, players playing online multiplayer are not restricted to the same local network. This allows players to interact with others from a much greater distance.
Playing multiplayer online offers the benefits of distance, but it also comes with its own unique challenges. Gamers refer to latency using the term "ping", after a utility which measures round-trip network communication delays (by the use of ICMP packets). A player on a DSL connection with a 50-ms ping can react faster than a modem user with a 350-ms average latency. Other problems include packet loss and choke, which can prevent a player from "registering" their actions with a server. In first-person shooters, this problem appears when bullets hit the enemy without damage. The player's connection is not the only factor; some servers are slower than others.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source .(October 2021)
Asymmetrical multiplayer is a type of gameplay in which players can have significantly different roles or abilities from each other –enough to provide a significantly different experience of the game. In games with light asymmetry, the players share some of the same basic mechanics (such as movement and death), yet have different roles in the game; this is a common feature of the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 , and in hero shooters such as Overwatch and Apex Legends . In games with stronger elements of asymmetry, one player/team may have one gameplay experience (or be in softly asymmetric roles) while the other player or team play in a drastically different way, with different mechanics, a different type of objective, or both. Examples of games with strong asymmetry include Dead by Daylight , Evolve , and Left 4 Dead .
Asynchronous multiplayer is a form of multiplayer gameplay where players do not have to be playing at the same time.This form of multiplayer game has its origins in play-by-mail games, where players would send their moves through postal mail to a game master, who then would compile and send out results for the next turn. Play-by-mail games transitioned to electronic form as play-by-email games. Similar games were developed for bulletin board systems, such as Trade Wars , where the turn structure may not be as rigorous and allow players to take actions at any time in a persistence space alongside all other players, a concept known as sporadic play.
These types of asynchronous multiplayer games waned with the widespread availability of the Internet which allowed players to play against each other simultaneously, but remains an option in many strategy-related games, such as the Civilization series. Coordination of turns are subsequently managed by one computer or a centralized server. Further, many mobile games are based on sporadic play and use social interactions with other players, lacking direct player versus player game modes but allowing players to influence other players' games, coordinated through central game servers, another facet of asynchronous play.
Online cheating (in gaming) usually refers to modifying the game experience to give one player an advantage over others, such as using an aimbot –a program which automatically locks the player's crosshairs onto a target –in shooting games. This is also known as "hacking" or "glitching" ("glitching" refers to using a glitch, or a mistake in the code of a game, whereas "hacking" is manipulating the code of a game). Cheating in video games is often done via a third-party program that modifies the game's code at runtime to give one or more players an advantage. In other situations, it is frequently done by changing the game's files to change the game's mechanics.
A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a video game that combines aspects of a role-playing video game and a massively multiplayer online game.
The history of video games began in the 1950s and 1960s as computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations on mainframe computers, with MIT's Spacewar! in 1962 as one of the first such games to be played with a video display. The early 1970s brought the first consumer-ready video game hardware: the first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, and the first arcade video games from Atari, Computer Space and Pong, the latter which was later made into a home console version. Numerous companies sprang up to capture Pong's success in both the arcade and the home by creating clones of the game, causing a market contraction in 1978 due to oversaturation and lack of innovation.
A Local area network (LAN) party is a gathering of people with computers or compatible game consoles, where a local area network (LAN) connection is established between the devices using a router or switch, primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer video games together. The size of these networks may vary from as few as two people to very large gatherings of a hundred or more. Small parties can form spontaneously and take advantage of common household networking equipment, but larger ones typically require more planning, equipment, and preparation.
A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based on its core gameplay rather than visual or narrative features. A video game genre is normally defined by a set of gameplay challenges considered independently of setting or game-world content, unlike works of fiction that are expressed through other media, such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of where or when it takes place.
A massively multiplayer online game is an online game with large numbers of players, often hundreds or thousands, on the same server. MMOs usually feature a huge, persistent open world, although there are games that differ. These games can be found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices.
In video games, a clan, community, guild or faction is an organized group of video game players that regularly play together in one or more multiplayer games. Many clans take part in gaming competitions, but some clans are just small gaming squads consisting of friends. These squads range from groups of a few friends to four-thousand plus person organizations, with a broad range of structures, goals and members. The lifespan of a clan also varies considerably, from a few weeks to over a decade. Numerous clans exist for nearly every online game available today, notably in first-person shooters (FPS), massively multiplayer games (MMO), role-playing video games (RPG), and strategy games. There are also meta-groups that span a wide variety of games. Some clans formed by groups of players have grown into multi-million dollar professional esports teams.
An online game is a video game that is either partially or primarily played through the Internet or any other computer network available. Online games are ubiquitous on modern gaming platforms, including PCs, consoles and mobile devices, and span many genres, including first-person shooters, strategy games, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG). In 2019, revenue in the online games segment reached $16.9 billion, with $4.2 billion generated by China and $3.5 billion in the United States. Since 2010s, a common trend among online games has been operating them as games as a service, using monetization schemes such as loot boxes and battle passes as purchasable items atop freely-offered games. Unlike purchased retail games, online games have the problem of not being permanently playable, as they require special servers in order to function.
A griefer or bad faith player is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game (trolling), by using aspects of the game in unintended ways, such as destroying something another player made or built. A griefer derives pleasure primarily or exclusively from the act of annoying other users, and as such is a particular nuisance in online gaming communities. To qualify as griefing, a player must be using aspects of the game in unintended ways to annoy other players—if they are trying to gain a strategic advantage, it is instead called "cheating".
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to video games:
Cooperative video game is a video game that allows players to work together as teammates, usually against one or more non-player character opponents. This feature is often abbreviated as co-op.
XLink Kai is a program developed by Team XLink allowing for online play of video games with support for LAN multiplayer modes. It enables players on the GameCube, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One to play games across the Internet using a network configuration that simulates a local area network (LAN). It notably also allows original Xbox games to be played online again following the Xbox Live shutdown on April 21, 2010 and certain GameSpy titles such as Saints Row 2 to be played online after the GameSpy network shutdown on May 31, 2014.
Twitch gameplay is a type of video gameplay scenario that tests a player's response time. Action games such as shooters, sports, multiplayer online battle arena, and fighting games often contain elements of twitch gameplay. For example, first-person shooters such as Counter-Strike and Call of Duty require quick reaction times for the players to shoot enemies, and fighting games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat require quick reaction times to attack or counter an opponent. Other video game genres may also involve twitch gameplay. For example, the puzzle video game Tetris gradually speeds up as the player makes progress.
System Link is a form of offline multiplayer gaming on the Xbox and Xbox 360 gaming console over a LAN. A network switch and standard straight-through Ethernet cables may be used to link multiple consoles together, or two consoles can be connected directly. Connecting two Xbox consoles to each other without a switch requires a crossover cable, while Xbox 360 consoles can use standard cables. On the Xbox One, if one's console will not connect to their home Wi-Fi system, the best thing they can do is to factory reset the console and change their DNS system when the console is restarted and refreshed.
Cheating in video games involves a video game player using various methods to create an advantage beyond normal gameplay, in order to make the game easier. Cheats may be activated from within the game itself, or created by third-party software or hardware. They can also be realized by exploiting software bugs; this may or may not be considered cheating based on whether the bug is considered common knowledge.
The history of massively multiplayer online games spans over thirty years and hundreds of massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) titles. The origin and influence on MMO games stems from MUDs, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and earlier social games.
A strategy video game is a video game genre that focuses on skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. It emphasizes strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. They are generally categorized into four sub-types, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time, and whether the game focuses on strategy or tactics.
Online games are video games played over a computer network. The evolution of these games parallels the evolution of computers and computer networking, with new technologies improving the essential functionality needed for playing video games on a remote server. Many video games have an online component, allowing players to play against or cooperatively with players across a network around the world.
This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.
In the video game industry, games as a service (GaaS) represents providing video games or game content on a continuing revenue model, similar to software as a service. Games as a service are ways to monetize video games either after their initial sale, or to support a free-to-play model. Games released under the GaaS model typically receive a long or indefinite stream of monetized new content over time to encourage players to continue paying to support the game. This often leads to games that work under a GaaS model to be called "living games", "live games", or "live-service games" since they continually change with these updates.
There have been multiplayer electronic games since the dawn of computing. Space War!, the first real videogame, programmed by Steve Russell on the PDP-1, was an exclusive two-player game. So was Nolan Bushnell's pioneering coin-op Pong.