Online Gaming – Concepts, Games Classification, Gaming Architectures, Gaming Protocols, Open Problems, Conclusions

online games

Definition: Online gaming refers to playing the game over the network using a personal computer, a game console, a PDA, or a smart phone.


Computer games, whether played on a classic personal computer, on a game console, on a PDA or even on a smart phone, are among the most commercially successful applications. Today, games such as Star Wars Galaxy and Everquest command audiences from 200000 to 400000 clients in US and Europe, while NCSoft’s Lineage has approximately 4 million of users in Korea.Parallel to the online game market, the online game research proceeds at a fast pace as well. Indeed, highly interactive networked multiplayer games impose rigorous demands on consistent game world modifications, responsive interaction schemes among players that permit to mitigate delays and jitters in game event transmissions, and fairness of handling players’ actions. Thus, advancements on game technologies and most of all, online game technologies, are felt as urgent to provide full support to latest kinds of entertainment services.

Games Classification

The game design is primarily affected by the characteristics and properties of the game logic. Indeed, the peculiarities of a game result in different technical needs and requirements that must be guaranteed to effectively deploy such a game over a network. Thus, taxonomy of possible games may be useful to better understand common factors and differences between games.According to, two broad game categories may be identified: skill-and-action games (also often called fast-paced games) and strategy games. While the former category is mainly characterized on perceptual and motor skills of players (i.e., the more the player is skilled to react to external stimuli in real-time the more is likely to win the game), the latter emphasizes on cognitive efforts (i.e., real-time play is rare in strategy games that mostly require more time to let the user think and then play)

Gaming Architectures

Classic game consoles were typically standalone platforms able to offer incredible graphical (offline) gaming experiences. Sony’s Playstation, Microsoft’s Xbox, Sega’s Dreamcast, Nintendo’s GameCube are well known products that had a great commercial success in the game market. They integrate functionalities to perform fast sprite drawing, 3D polygons, and full motion video and pulse code modulation waveform sound. As an example, new Sony Playstation 3 incorporates a Cell Processor, a multicore chip featuring a 64-bit power processor core with multiple synergistic processor cores capable of massive floating point processing. The chip is optimized for intensive gaming applications and also excels in broadband-rich media applications, such as movies. Moreover, these game consoles typically incorporate powerful Graphic Processor Units (GPUs) for sophisticated graphics renderings. For instance, Playstation exploits powerful Nvidia GPUs while ATI GPUs are used by Microsoft and Nintendo.

Gaming Protocols

Once game nodes have been organized to manage the distributed game system, a key point is concerned with the protocols employed for the communications among these nodes. Indeed, it is well known that skill-and-action online games suffer from slow communications, changing network conditions and consequent high levels of delay jitters. In particular, the time elapsed since the generation of a game event by a given player and the time when such an event is perceived by all other players characterizes  the pace of evolution of the game. Researchers and gamers assert that network delays should not exceed 150 milliseconds when the game advances at a constant rate Thus, much of the focus in online multi-player games is concerned with the problem of reducing response times experienced by players.

Open Problems

There are plenty of open problems that still need to be addressed in order to guarantee a full support to online multiplayer games on large scale networked. The aim of this section is to overview some research issues that require investigation and are at the basis of online games.

The need for an effective game management is mainly concerned with the optimization of the resources composing the game architecture. In this context, a typical problem amounts to the fact that the processing of unnecessary game events may cause bandwidth and computational overheads, if techniques able to reduce the amount of information exchanged within the distributed game are not utilized.


The design of novel networked games demands ever increasing technical and interdisciplinary sophistications. Exciting game experiences can be provided to a large number of players connected through diverse terminals only if smart schemes are exploited for the support of online game systems. In this paper, we overviewed some main issues that require to be fully addressed along with typical solutions



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