The History of Online Gaming

The History of Online Gaming  is a rich and interesting story
Photo by CC user Erikhjortsberg on English Wikipedia

These days, people take a casual match of Counterstrike for granted. However, the gaming landscape was considerably different as recently as 30 years ago. The ways we entertain ourselves has changed dramatically since that time, which makes us wonder how people coped with boredom a few short decades ago.

In this post, we will take a look back at the history of online gaming, from when mainframe computers played Tic-Tac-Toe against a single human being, to nowadays, where seasoned gamers sometimes have trouble beating their AI opponents.


Online gaming owes its present popularity to the development of computer gaming back in the 1950’s. This age saw the emergence of games such as Nimrod, OXO, and Spacewar, which required players to physically take turns on the same console.

The lessons learned from this early age of gaming helped improve the user experience as technology advanced. In the 1960’s, the debut of time-sharing allowed multiple users to use the same computer simultaneously.

Later that decade, modems permitted players to not be physically present in the same building. This latter innovation laid the groundwork for the massive multiplayer games to come.

The dawn of the internet changes everything

While online gaming was growing at a respectable pace throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, its growth went exponential with the launch of the World Wide Web. Games of all kinds suddenly began to develop with the global connectivity that was unleashed by this new user-friendly interface.

While MMORPG’s that were firmly established on BBS networks dominated this new platform early on, other forms of gaming soon emerged, such as online casinos. While the graphics looked primitive back in the mid-1990s, you can see the progression of Roulette simply by comparing it to the slick graphics that are possible in the present day.

Console gaming wades into the online world

While Sega Genesis made the first overture into the online realm in the early 1990s with its Sega Meganet service (it was only available in Japan and Brazil), the console gaming world never really merged with the online gaming universe until the early 2000’s.

Sony PlayStation was first in with its online service, and Xbox Live also captured the imagination of gamers worldwide with its launch in 2002. Since then, headset-wearing gamers from Japan to America have been able to talk trash to each other as if they were in the same room together.

From World of Warcraft to League of Legends: the modern age of online gaming

The traditional PC gaming realm has also evolved considerably over the past couple of decades. As technology has improved, programmers have been able to create immersive worlds where players can go on an infinite amount of quests.

World of Warcraft has been a beneficiary of this trend, as have more recent franchises such as League of Legends. These games have become so popular that championship series with throngs of spectators have emerged in recent years.

This rabid following has given rise to the e-sports industry, the latest exciting development in the history of online gaming.