With online games you can do more than just while away time; you can compete with gamers from across the globe.

Online gaming has always been the rage world over. However in India, it’s finally trending — though a little late — thanks to much improved and affordable Internet connectivity. Today’s archetypal college-going lad (and lady) will swear by the vital euphoria that these largely browser-based games bestow between demanding work schedules. With many free games, ubiquitous laptops and smartphones and insomnia-trapped teens, online gaming sites effortlessly register rising traffic each day.

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The choices are manifold. Arcade games, based on typical gaming-arcade simulations, top the list due to their relative ease of play and lighter technical demands. Age-old classics such as Pac-Mac and Pong still pack a punch when it comes to pure entertainment. Board games come close, with engaging offerings such as chess, Sudoku and Connect 4.

Games based on sport are also fairly popular. Though not as realistic as one would expect, they bridge that gap through their insane rules, methods and simulations of gameplay. With a game like Stick Cricket, your every-over-six-hitting capabilities and 20-over double-century run chases will keep you hooked and astonished for hours. More popular among football enthusiasts are games that let them build, strategise and manage fictitious teams, but with real-world team names and players; enough to keep a diehard ManU fan hooked! Similarly, a lot of games offer cross-genre experience. A personal favourite is Airline Manager on Facebook, which includes managing your own airline as well as helping your virtual staff and aircrafts juggle occasional economic and technical downturns.

In the online gaming basket are also a number of educational games. Crosswords and math puzzles remain the most popular. However it’s also not difficult to find games based on science experiments or music notes.

Fun for everyone

As unisex and age-friendly that most of the online games are, a guy looking for some ‘serious stuff’ will still not be disappointed. As the chief of an underworld organisation, manage pirates or build a navy, world domination is available at the doorstep.

Girls, who prefer something that’s not brutal or mainstream, can cook delicious virtual dishes or crochet! Though make-up games and doll games feature on the list too, college chicks claim to keep their distance.

And if you’re wondering about an online gamer’s lonely world, then you’re wrong. After all, what’s a game without friends and frolic? A major factor that woos online gamers is the ability to play multiplayer with friends or strangers.

Many gamers go on to participate in online championships and tournaments and, in most cases, are awarded virtual points that can be used to increase their capabilities within the game. If you have a Facebook account, you probably know all about Farmville. Farmville brings back the little joys of having your own farmland, albeit virtual, in today’s urban world.

There are negatives too

Despite the benefits, online gaming has its problems. The major one is a substantial technical shortfall; something we can’t help but notice when the parallel world made up of console and stand-alone computer games embrace stark-high standards. Since almost all online games use flash architecture, their graphic and realism capabilities fail terribly when compared to the nerve-wracking experience that dedicated console systems show off. With the wider and faster broadband spectrums, online games are surely catching up but still remain a far cry from console-level gameplay.

The good thing, however, is the growing concept of hooking up stand-alone console and computer games to the Internet for a multiplayer experience. Although not perceived as stereotypical online games due to their heavier technical requirements as of now, they do offer multiplayer benefits such as tournaments. The line between them is growing thinner thanks to a rising number of people using smartphones that have gaming apps. These almost always allow multiplayer gaming with much better graphics and gameplay. Still, the choice is limited compared to their browser-based counterparts.

Another serious issue is the kind of people you game with at multiplayer levels. Especially for games associated with casino and gambling, the online atmosphere could get tense due to misbehaviour by strangers. It’s certainly not advisable to play with real money or disclose personal details in these games. Since most multiplayer online gaming platforms are un-moderated, crooked behaviour is inevitable. As with any other game, a good online game may get addictive. The best way to avoid addiction is not be stay hooked for a long time. Sure it sounds obvious, but it’s that much more difficult.

Verdict: The fever of online gaming has just started and is here to stay. While the levels of fun and entertainment could be unexplainable given the increasing choice, be particularly careful about the interactions and relationships you make with fellow online gamers. If addiction kicks in, the best and only thing is to stop.

Online gaming is a lot less tiring as you don’t have to install the software or plug-ins. Perfect when you’re on the move! - SREEJITH R.S., SRM University

Online games are addictive because you make new friends and are determined to win. Striving to predict the stranger’s move makes it very challenging and interesting. - SHREYANSH JAIN, SRM University

You have to be extremely careful while giving your personal details online as many send you spam mail. - DIWAKAR, I.T. Professional

Keywords: online gaming

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