What was the first online multiplayer game ever?

Video games started being created as early as 1951 with games such as NIMROD (1951), OXO (1952), and Spacewar! (1962) but these were all for one or two players on the same computer. Kind of a snore fest if you ask me, but probably cool at the time I am sure!

Later in the 60s they came up with time-sharing where multiple people could use the same computer but from separate rooms. Probably one of the first inventions to help keep your girlfriend out of the same room.

A few companies in the 1970s started to do some really cool things with packet-based networking which lead to Local Area Networks being created.

What was the PLATO time-sharing system?

University of Illinois and Control Data Corporation, created the PLATO time-sharing system. It was first used to create online lessons for schooling with computer aided instructions provided.

A new version of PLATO was released and like all fantastic and curious students, they begun to create games on this beast thanks to it’s brand new shiny graphics capabilities.

Students started creating air combat, tank combat, dungeon crawls, space battles, and other games that contained messaging between players, persistent game characters, and teams for up to 32 players at the same time.

Ok nerd, enough boring crap. What was the first multiplayer game?

Ok, well, to be honest it’s a little difficult to pin down exactly.

…BUT WAIT!

Richard Bartle (Co-Creator MUD)

One of the most important games to ever be created, which contributed largely to what we know as the MMORPG that we all love and enjoy today, was a game called MUD (1978). The game is also referred to as MUD1 to distinguish it from the followup game MUD2.

MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) is one of the oldest examples of a virtual world that we know of. It was created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle. Mr Bartle has contributed a lot to the gaming industry over the years and has a book called “Designing Virtual Worlds” which has been hailed as “the bible of MMORPG design”.

Screenshot of MUD1 game
Screenshot of MUD

In 1980 MUD became the first Internet multiplayer online role-playing game. 


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