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Playing with yourself

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Some games are just more fun playing with others.

Every gamer on the planet can agree that all videogames can be separated into two categories: single player and multiplayer. Multiplayer is a trend covering every corner of the gaming universe, from two players alternating on Super Mario Bros. to blowing another player away from halfway around the world.

How did this become so popular? After all, the nerd populace is notoriously antisocial, aren't they? Why collectivise their nerdiness? Simply put: Because we can.

Adding players completely changes the game play. "Bots," or artificial players, are great for target practice, but like Han Solo said, "Look, going good against remotes is one thing. Going good against the living? That's something else."

Multiplayer computer games have been around since the 1970s. One of the first was the infamous PONG, where each player controls a line to bounce a dot back and forth.

We've come a long way since.

A huge surge occurred with the release of a gaming epic, Quake, the first decent first-person shooter that fully incorporated three dimensions. No more shooting at cardboard cutout monsters! This game raised the bar for gibbing (liquefying, think juicy) your buddies over the 'net and paved the way for the globalization of first person shooters like Half-Life and Counter-Strike.

Now, there's a huge subculture of tens of thousands of players daily entirely devoted to Counter-Strike.

Multiplayer gaming has reached out to every corner of the world, from Belgium to Beijing, from Tokyo to Texas. You can play poker (for virtual or real money) with a buddy in Hong Kong or help a Russian friend eat rockets.

The reality is we are social creatures, even when we want to be antisocial.

So unleash your inner nerd. Reach out and touch someone, the gamer way, and don't get caught playing with yourself.

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