Tech Time: Online Gaming

Whether you are a casual gamer stealing a few precious minutes at work, or a serious gamer locked to your computer for hours, the online gaming phenomenon has probably touched your life.

Online games, games played over a computer network usually associated with the Internet, are available in a number of formats and over a number of platforms.

Using nothing more than a Flash or JAVA enhanced browser and an Internet connection, players can access a wide variety of games including arcade, card, board, puzzle and word games. Gamers can play against the system or get interactive with other gamers across the room, the island or the world.

Taking it up a notch, sophisticated strategy and first person games are also widely available online, though many such games charge a fee for access. They may also require you to download software to truly access the game experience.

For many hard core gamers, taking their gaming console online enhances their game play experience. All the major consoles have built in Internet access, customised software and elaborate portals to complete the multi-player experience. At this level, game play is rarely free.

Ready to take the plunge? Start of simple, start local, with Dabble with online gaming by playing adapted versions of Pong, Tetris, Gem Swap, Solitaire and Space Invaders. Make your idle time more productive and profitable with tournament gaming for a chance to win cool prizes (or more credit to play more games).

Got a game console and ready to pit your skills against like-minded games half a world away? Power up and log on to Xbox Live, Playstation Network or Wii Online.

The Xbox Live experience will set you back a few bucks a month while its competitors PSN and Wii allow games to access the online enhancements for free.

Gaming has blossomed beyond being just a pastime for young boys into a world-wide phenomenon for all.

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