The perfect game room
This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on December 1, 2000
Back in the late Victorian Age, the upper class (who actually had time on their hands to fill, unlike the working stiffs) began adding game rooms to their homes. Backgammon, chess, billiards/snooker and card tables populated these rooms, often built as a solarium with lots of light and an open feeling.
The Internet is the democratic version of the game room. It takes no space in your home, is open 24/7, and anyone can access it. Online gaming is one of the biggest growth areas right now, from Internet-only environments like Ultima, EverQuest and Asheron's Call to multiplayer versions of home games like HalfLife, Unreal Tournament and StarCraft.
But there's a lot more on the Internet than game rooms there are lots of other resources that can make your computer gaming experience that much better.
Firstlook.com offers previews of movies, music, TV shows and computer games. It allows you to check a game out before you buy it. Not that you can actually play the game, but you can view video clips of the games being played, so you can get an idea of the graphics and gameplay.
GameSpy is a program that goes out on the Internet and finds active multiplayer games for you: Many of the popular games with a multiplayer option are supported Quake II and III, Half-Life, Unreal and Unreal Tournament, Motocross Madness 1 and 2, over 100 in all. There is a free trial version of the program available for download from the site.
The World Opponent Network is another way of finding ongoing multiplayer games to jump in on. It doesn't support as many different games as GameSpy, but includes the basics Half-Life, Quake II, Tribes and others like Red Baron 3D, Civil War Generals 2 and a dozen or so more.
The OGL is like an online softball league for geeks. You can sign up and participate in tournaments and league play ("ladders," where the more you win the higher you climb in the standings) basically do everything you'd do in a rec softball league except hide a keg behind the backstop.
Low-tech look with lots of plain text hyperlinks, Multiplayer.com is still one of the best sites to bookmark if you do play over the 'Net. There are links to most of the multiplayer hubs, lots of leagues are listed, and dozens of individual games.
This site is dedicated to presenting an encyclopedic overview of all computer gaming from the old Atari 2600 videogame up through the present but includes info on lots of online games. There are literally thousands of games listed here, and it's largely geared toward users rating the games for each other.
This is another overview site, with tons of reviews and background reports on popular PC and console games. But in addition to the reviews are screenshots, patches/updates, and free playable demos.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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