Are You One in 700 Million?

So, during the board meeting this morning, did you sneak in a quick game of Spider Solitaire? If so, you’re in good company. It is estimated that over 700 million people play online games of some type EVERY DAY! In fact, some people actually make a living doing so. In fact, according to Venture Beat, nearly one half of the entire online population plays online games.

Something For Everyone

Contrary to the stereotype, online gaming and online jigsaw puzzles is not limited to 20 somethings who live in their parents’ basements. This phenomenon reaches every age group, both genders, and all socio/economic classes.

Of these 700 million online gamers, the gender breakdown is 46% women and 54% men. Somehow predictably, women prefer strategy and word games, girls like dress-up, girly games, and males of all ages prefer action games.

Play Anywhere

Well, ok, some online gamers do live in their parents’ basements, absorbed in first person action games. But, the truth is, the vast majority of people play their games while sitting on the living room sofa. Many usually have a game going on while they watch TV. Perhaps the next most popular, comfy spot for working online jigsaw puzzles or racing around a NASCAR track is in bed.

Over ½ of us play while we’re waiting for an appointment. That saves us from having to read last year’s magazines – again. Two thirds of us play our online games while we’re stuck in traffic, or riding as a passenger.

The bathroom is perhaps the only place where some people find the privacy to enjoy their online games and jigsaw puzzles, with 1/3 of gamers playing while on the “porcelain throne”.

PLATO

We can really blame PLATO for online gaming. Not Plato, the philosopher, but PLATO, the time sharing system. This system was invented by the University of Illinois all the way back in 1970, and was the first to allow multiple terminals to share one computer. And, it wasn’t actually a gaming system, but an educational system. Students could attend classes from various locations – both around the classroom and, eventually, from distant sites – on the PLATO system. Naturally, the most logical next step for the students was to start designing games they could play with each other, rather than studying. These games were mostly combat and space games, with a dungeon thrown in for variety. The combination of off-task student behavior and alert, enterprising instructors provided the first “hosted” games, growing in popularity along with the technology of modems and computer networking. Up until then, Games such as “The Oregon Trail” and “Star Trek”, single player games that several people could play at once, but could not communicate with each other.

Keep in mind, though, that all of this was in-house gaming. Everything was hosted on one computer, and networking was the outgrowth from that. A number of games circulated around up until internet was invented.

Internet

Then, one day, Al Gore miraculously invented the internet. It was the very first day of 1983, and the genie was now out of the bottle. All of these networked computer systems could play with each other, either in peer sharing configurations or in server setups. Of course, the internet changed just about everything in this world, and wireless internet changed everything else.

A Whole New World

Online gaming now is not limited to a desktop computer. It’s not even limited to a laptop. As you well know, there are consoles specifically sold to unite gamers worldwide to play a wide variety of games, and some gamers even make a living doing so. “World of Warcraft”, or WOW, is such a big deal that skilled players are sponsored, making a regular paycheck for playing online. These people ensconce themselves in high-tech simulator-style cocoons, pausing from their work only to shop for newer upgrades.

Handheld devices have evolved, providing us with the ability to keep up with our games while we travel, sit at our desk job, or point our tractor down a row of cotton. You can pause during your job of checking software coding and water your kitchen garden, or you can design a city zoo while your tractor chops weeds.

There is no limit to the entertainment we can find. From online crossword and free jigsaw puzzles to entire battle scenarios, online gaming has something for everyone.

 

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