I've been mentioning ONLINE GAMING lately for a lot of reasons - most of which is that several members are into gaming online and there isn't much to doing it, I just think that a CLOUD of MYSTERY may exist to people who have NEVER tried it before. I'll give a layman's talk here about it
First things first
In order to play games (whether football, basketball, hockey, baseball, Nascar, golf, chess, or ANY OTHER game) you need software made for MULTIPLAYER - the exception are games over the Internet that are applet or Java based where the who connectivity issues are builtin.
But generally, you buy software as you always have, at stores or over the Internet at download sites.
Different games have different limits on how many people can play at once too - keep this in mind. A good example, the older (but best) nascar game 2003 season allows a full 43 real people to play online at one, where newer games may only allow 15 or less. Knowing the limitations of game play is something you should keep in mind as you shop for multiplayer games.
Another big issue is WHAT IS THE HOT GAME! As I said the 2003 Season of Nascar is STILL the most valued and used driving game, and Tiger woods 2004 edition is the most popular. Being the NEWEST isn't always the best, often you can find the most popular game in the discount bin OR bundled with other games in a packaged set. Tiger woods is sold in a 5 game pack along with football, basketball, hockey and Nascar and the whole package is just $17 - wow!!!!
DIFFERENT WAYS TO CONNECT MULTIPLAYER
Once you have chosen a game, you have different options of play. You can often play alone, you can play against real people in the same room or over a LAN (local area network - lets say you against your child in the same house), play against computer generated opponents or online against people and the forth option is to play online with people and add computer opponents in the online game.
We will cover the multiplayer online options - there are two basic ones. Most all multiplayer games offer you at least ONE server to meet up with other people (friends or strangers) consider this a HUB where people meet and join up. You can compare skill levels, choose different play formats, etc. and then start playing from there.
What we do here at Beemaster
Is a little different, we play multiplayer but we chose a DEDICATED SERVER (simply put MY COMPUTER or SOMEONE ELSES COMPUTER) becomes the HOST or HUB rather than going through a service like EA SPORTS, GAMESPY or SIERRA ONLINE SERVERS. Having a dedicated server has lots of advantages and is VERY SIMPLE to connect to.
I'll explain a simple AVERAGE session of how we play golf (but the rules apply for all the games with few exceptions) after reading this, you will have a good idea how simple it is.
We use a voice chat program called Ventrilo, we meet there and choose what type of game we plan to play. I then set up the golf game for multiplayer and tell the others to enter my IP address into their computer's multiplayer setup screen. Their names appear on my player list and we go off to the golf course at the click of a mouse.
We use Ventrilo to talk to each other as we play golf - both players go through my IP address, but they are independent software, and people NOT playing can join in and chat with us as we golf.
So basically, you can go through a major server or someone can host - either way, there will be other players and the big servers can have thousands of games going on at one time, you only need to find one you have interest in and wait for the right time to enter.
I enjoy hosting, which really requires a fast connection and a fast computer (lucky I have both) but games like Tiger Woods gold allows the players to have slower connection speeds and still play, where games like Nascar requires players to have faster connections.
At $17 for 5 great sport games, look for WORLD OF EA SPORTS and you will see Tiger Woods 2004 golf featured in the center of the list on the cover. Within minutes you are ready to play alone, against computer players and even go online and try your hand against real people from around the world. And to be able to talk while you play any sport adds GREAT dimension to your fun level. I really hope to have more people join the voice chat (see voice chat section for somplete details) but then to add online multiplayer sports REALLY takes your computing experience BEYOND what you do with it today.