A long time ago when the Internet started, it was text-based. This was a time when email was nascent, when “sharing” and “social networking” were still science fiction. So, when developers finally made the medium interactive, letting users have their say, it was logically text-based. Thus was born blogging.
And still the Net evolved. After text came audio, letting users all over the world broadcast their views, in their own voice, in the form of podcasts. Another generation quickly succeeded, and finally videos emerged, enabling anybody with a camera and time to make short clips and share them with friends on YouTube.
Innovation, however, didn’t take a breather. Instead, it went to the next level, bringing all the three earlier media experiences into a totally immersible virtual world (see main story).
Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet, connects the University of California, Los Angeles and SRI International, a research institute, in the US.
MUD (multi-user dungeon) becomes the first online world at the Essex University’s network. It has only text; players read descriptions and react by writing back commands and decisions. It becomes so popular that MUDs become a gaming category. This virtual world remains the realm of enthusiasts.
TCP/IP, the network protocol that will become the de facto backbone of the Internet, becomes operational for the first time.
‘Islands of Kesmai’, a semi-graphical multi-user game is launched.
The network that had emerged from Arpanet opens to commercial interests. Before this it was used only for research (on college campuses) and military purposes.
The Internet finally starts gaining mainstream acceptance.
MOO (MUD object-oriented) lets programming-savvy players modify MUDs as they play. It’s also used for conferencing over distances, distance education and role-playing games. It still remains text-based and stays under the command of the programming-savvy gaming enthusiast.
‘Neverwinter Nights’, the first graphical role-playing game (RPG), is delivered through AOL (America Online). More people start joining these multiplayer adventures
Ragnarok goes online in Korea.
Second Life, the first fully immersible online world emerges. It gains attention by 2006; people then start flocking to it. Online worlds still remain enclosed, with little mainstream success.
World of Warcraft is launched. It goes on to become the most popular online game world with 16 million players.
Matrix Online (Mx0) takes over from the movies.
Guild Wars amazes people with its graphics and low computer requirements. By this time, millions are playing in online worlds.
1.4 billion people use the Internet in the world.
Lively, an online world from Google, is launched. Its open approach is expected to finally make online worlds mainstream.