A multiplayer game is a game which is played by several players. The players might be independent opponents, formed into teams or be just a single team pitted against the game. Games with many independent players are difficult to analyse formally in a game-theoretical way as the players may form coalitions.
Multiplayer games first emerged in the 1970s. Among the first multiplayer games were arcade games such as Pong. With Ralph H. Baer’s invention of the Magnavox Odyssey, these games then migrated from the arcade to the home, and were playable on the television. Arcade games gained popularity in 1980, eventually losing ground and being overtaken by the home videogame industry in 1983. Some games originated as single-player games, but became multi-player through modifications of the original software. The popular game Counter-Strike, which enjoys the most players of all multiplayer games, is a modified version of the single-player game called Half-Life.
John Nash proved that games with several players have a stable solution provided that coalitions between players are not allowed. He won the Nobel prize for economics for this important result which extended von Neumann's theory of zero-sum games. Such a stable strategy is called a Nash equilibrium.
If cooperation between players is allowed, then the game is more complex. Many concepts have been developed to analyze such games. While these have had some partial success in the fields of economics, politics and conflict, no good general theory has yet been developed.
In quantum game theory, it has been found that the introduction of quantum information into multiplayer games allows a new type of equilibrium strategy which is not found in traditional games. The entanglement of players's choices can have the effect of a contract by preventing players from profiting from betrayal.
Examples of the types of such games include:
- Party games - A social game played with a number of people, little equipment, and simple rules (e.g. Charades)
- Card games - A game played with a deck of cards. (e.g. Contract Bridge)
- Board games - A played on a game board with set rules. (e.g. Monopoly)
- Multiplayer computer games - played either on networked or individual computers
- Multiplayer online games - played over the Internet
- Massively multiplayer online role-playing games - a notable subset of online games
- Multiplayer video games - played on a video gaming system
- Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2008. "Designed for or involving more than two (esp. many) players or participants"
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