beanz Magazine

How do Multiplayer Games Really Work?

Sherif Salama on Flickr

Synchronizing games with players from all around the world is no easy task.

If you’re an avid gamer, there’s a good chance you’ve played an online game before. These games connect you with players all around the world in one game, so you can play with (or against!) one another. Have you ever wondered how they work? What’s going on in the background that allows your game to see the inputs of a player halfway around the globe from you?

In order for multiplayer games to fully work, there needs to be a ‘central hub’ which every player’s game reports to and receives reports from. Sometimes a game may select a specific player to be the host of the game; this is called a ‘peer-to-peer’ service. Most of the time, however, the developers of the game will provide a central server which all players connect to.

The server is where all the action takes place. You can imagine the game being played inside the server itself, if it helps! When you take an action in the game, it sends a message to the server saying what you did, and the server tells your game what happens next. As such, the main game isn’t happening on your PC; it’s happening on the server, and your game is simply a window through which you can watch and interact with the game.


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