Gaming - there’s never been so much choice

The rise of casual gaming over the last few years has changed the face of ‘video gaming’ and made it far more mainstream. Once the sole provenance of teenage boys, gaming has blossomed into a multi-million dollar industry with so many different choices, there is a way of playing games out there for everyone.

The emergence of wifi and hyper fast internet speeds have opened up online gaming to the masses, for example. Not that long ago, you had to be a dedicated gamer to want to get online and play with other people, necessitating as it did waiting for dial ups and tying up the phone line for hours. These days, anyone and everyone can hop online whenever they fancy - and from wherever they fancy with 3G and 4G making it pretty much instantaneous to play games from buses, trains, while shopping, eating and walking. In fact there isn’t anywhere where games can’t be played today!

Consoles are, of course, hooked up to fast internet as well, allowing players to play against people all over the world in complicated games like Call of Duty, requiring skill, dedication and many hours of gameplay.

Smartphones and tablets have given us simple games like Plants vs Zombies and Bejewelled Blitz, which are phenomenally popular with the casual gamer market - the vast number of people who have become interested in playing games, often following first exposure through social networking sites like Facebook. There are literally thousands of gaming apps available, catering to lots of different interests, from sport lovers to brain training experts and the number of people playing them continues to rise.

Added to these are online gambling and casino sites, which offer a different way to play games online. Although poker and casino games have always been popular, with console games and simple card games available for many years, the rise of online poker recently has seen a huge uptake in players. The ability to play professional players and play many hands at once has opened up real life tournament play to dedicated online poker players as well - they can win places in tournaments and go on to advance their game that way.

In a similar way, online bingo sites have also taken off in recent years, with many thousands of regular players discovering a way to harness an old favourite in a completely new way. It’s possible to play online bingo on sites like chitchat bingo and enjoy socialising with other players, as well as play bingo in many different ways.

With online games also aimed at children - for example Disney’s Club Penguin and Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters proving phenomenally popular and introducing children to the world of online gaming at a very early age, it seems that no age group or interest group has been left out of the rise of online gaming. There really is something for everyone, and it;s fantastic to see something that was once so niche, become so popular and educationally important. You can’t underestimate what can be learned from video gaming and online game playing and, of course, the fun that can be had exploring all the different ways to play.