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We know it can be a daunting world to get invovled in, so here is our bluffer's guide to getting started with video games.

Online multiplayer games are played on a console or PC that is connected to the internet. This enables players to compete against each other from all over te world. The PS3 and Wii have a slight advantage here of their built in wireless functionality, whereas the 360 needs to have an extrnal wireless device connected or to be hard wired to your network to access online multiplayer games.

A lobby system provides a place to meet and arrnage matches. Here, one player sets up the game while others join and select their character ro side. Over time players can build up lists of other they often play with and sometimes compete in groups known as clans. These micro communities often result in their own clan forums and websites.

The majority of online multiplayer games only allow one person to play on each console. There are exceptions to this with games such as Halo 3 allowing up to four players to compete in an online multiplayer match - the compromise here is that they each share one user's acount and playername.

Online multiplayer games have the advantage of providing each player the full benefit of the consoles garphics, sounds and screen space. They can also create matches that invovle larger numbers of players to compete (without the logistics of moving hardware around associated with the older LAN or local multiplayer options). MAG PS3 for instance promises large theatre of wars battles invovling segments of action involving 256 players, something that creates a real sense of participating in an unfolding battle.

Shooting games are the most popular online multiplayer experience, with the Call of Duty and Halo series leading the way. Newer shooter titles, like Metal Gear Solid, Far Cry and Kill Zone 2, usually include an online multiplayer option even if this wasn't the focus of the main game. Recently, sports games have benefitted from online multiplayer modes. FIFA 09 on 360 and PS3 provided a play in position mode where eleven players could compete as they would in real life.

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