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  • Online Gaming
    It's not just for kids
    by Chan Park
    The Internet has opened up a world of entertainment possibilities—from instant communication with friends to online music and videos to up-to-the minute coverage about your favorite topics. One area you've probably heard about is online gaming—and if you've never tried it, you're in for a treat. There's more to online gaming than shoot-em-up action thrills—though there's plenty of that too. Whether it's simply an online version of a favorite game or something completely new, lots of people are discovering online offerings that cover a wide range of interests and abilities.

    Online gaming can mean many things to many people—it covers everything from arcade-style games that you can play alone in your Web browser to multiplayer role-playing environments where thousands of users interact and compete at the same time. It can even refer to professional gambling sites where people play poker and casino-style games for money. As well, online gaming sometimes describes consoles like XBox or PlayStation that you can play against others over the Internet.

    In short, any kind of game that uses an online
    connection can be considered as online gaming. And with such a wide variety, there's a little something for everyone to play and enjoy.

    Find the familiar, online
    There are numerous sites that offer Web-based versions of familiar games you've played all your life. Simple card games like Solitaire to online jigsaw puzzles and word games. Some of these sites allow you to play against a friend, or even someone you've never met. And many of these sites offer free access, so you can try hundreds of different games without going to a store—it's like having a complete library of activities on your computer. If you don't like one, you can just try something else.

    Having access to such a wide variety of games is especially handy when it comes to arcade-style action. Once upon a time, you'd have to find a dingy arcade to play games like Pinball and Pac Man and more. Now you can find most of these games online—and play them right in your Web browser.

    A great place to find hundreds of classic and new games to choose from is the EarthLink Games Channel. You can pit yourself against others in multiplayer games such as Subhunt, Spades, and Cannonballs. Download cool free demos like Collapse II, Jigsaw Puzzle, and PileUp! Or, play any number of free Web games including Text Twist, Gem Drop, and Winning Shot Basketball! Best of all, the EarthLink Games Channel is free. And it's even available straight from your myEarthLink start page.

    A whole new world
    If you want to immerse yourself in a new experience, there's the rapidly expanding genre known as "massively multiplayer" games. These are game environments that simulate fantastic and epic worlds-from medieval wars to futuristic battlegrounds, and everything in between-where large numbers of players participate and compete against each other simultaneously.

    The most popular of these games involve role playing and strategy. And because of the complexity and depth of these games, players have been know to devote hundreds and even thousands of hours to them. These games typically involve downloading the main components to your computer, then all of your actions are synchronized by game servers in remote locations that keep track of all the players.

    One place to find multiplayer games and play them easily is our very own EarthLink Ultimate Gaming, which can connect you to serious gamers across the country on a dedicated server offering the lowest available ping time. You can even try EarthLink Ultimate Gaming free for 30 days.

    More resources
    If you'd like more information about online gaming, check out GameDaily, a resource where you can get the latest news and reviews from the world of online gaming. Another great place to start is Business Week's game coverage. You can also learn more about the history of massively multiplayer games and find a list of the best free MMORPG and MMO games.