I don't mean the ones where you have a little farm and you visit your friends and help them plough and stuff, or those where you swap sweets around to make cubes of jelly disappear.
Although they are certainly games, and are, of course, online, they're not what I'm talking about. I mean things like Call Of Duty or FIFA and their ilk, games where you actively play with or against other people.
I used to be pretty much addicted to a little game called Modern Warfare (or more correctly, Modern Warfare 2) Which simulated armed skirmishes in realistic locations such as Russian Airports, The wreckage of a crashed plane, muddy fields etc. - You could log on to the server, select a couple of shiny weapons and run around shooting other real people, from all over the world, in their smug faces, with high calibre rounds, from great distances, without ever being seen.
At least that's what used to happen to me... A lot - I haven't got the lizard-like reactions that I used to have back in the day, many years of beer, bacon, and cheese toasty abuse have put paid to all that tomfoolery I'm afraid. I mean, I'd be there, crouching behind a rock, popping my head up occasionally to take a pot-shot at a passing Terrorist / Russian / Afghan /American Special Forces soldier and get stabbed in the back by a fourteen year old boy called Buck from Oklahoma, who proceeded to tell me, via voice-chat, how killing me was a direct result of him roughly buggering my 'Mom' the previous evening (The life-choices Buck had made up to this point had obviously led him down the dark and winding road to necrophilia, as my Mother had died when he was some four years old)
I got bored with this after a while, as you would and took a break from Online Gaming, until recently, when I re-discovered World of Warcraft.
Yes, I know... Let's get all the geek, nerd, loser stuff out of the way now shall we? - Yes, there are Elves and Goblins, Yes you can cast spells, Yes, most of the female characters wouldn't get a broken nose if they fell over forwards and Yes, most of the people who play it are the kind of people who carry a flask of weak lemon drink around with them wherever they go. But I enjoy it, it helps to pass the time when I've run out of stuff that's been Sky+'d.
OK, I'm not going to go through the game, it's too big, there's too much to it - And it's all out there on the Internet in morbid detail. But essentially you make a fantasy character, their race, sex, profession and physical appearance are all up to you. Then you do 'stuff' - People send you on missions, you can fight against other real people, you could save up your in-game money and buy a hideously powerful hammer and use it to explode bunny rabbits should the mood take you. All human (and a lot of non-human) life is here.
Improbably, when you kill enemies, including animals like wolves and wild boars etc. They mostly drop some 'loot'. Now loot could be meat (which generally makes sense I guess), money (Makes sense for the more humanoid enemies, but not so much for the bears and soforth) or weapons and armour (Don't even get me started on why a pig would drop a pair of chainmail boots or an 8' long poleaxe.)
And if you want the best 'loot' then obviously, you have to visit the most dangerous places. In simple WoW (See, World of Warcraft - There are acronyms and everything!) the most dangerous places that you can easily get into are 'Dungeons'. These are underground (usually) areas filled with tougher than normal enemies and one or more 'Bosses' who are an order of magnitude tougher again - So tough in fact that you have absolutely no chance of killing them... On your own.
You need a team of five people, so you take four friends (If you do not have four friends - And let's face it, if you did, you wouldn't be playing WoW, the server will appoint you four team-mates) and you work together to eradicate every living thing that you find. So far, so geeky...
But it's not that simple, the team is split into three, there's a 'Tank' Whose job is to soak up damage and keep the bad guys occupied, a 'Healer' to keep the Tank alive whilst he's being waled on and three 'DPSers' (DeePeeEssers) who kill the bad guys whilst they're concentrating on the Tank - Everyone has a job, it's just like living in modern day Britain... *cough*
Last night, I was with a group in a little place that I like to call Blackrock Depths - When I met the British cousin of my old friend Buck, from Modern Warfare (Please note... I don't know if he was any distant relation, in fact I don't even know whether the original guy's name was Buck - They were just both gits.)
He was the Healer, and he liked to do everything at 100MPH, we rushed from room to room, killing stuff left right and centre, he was constantly telling us to 'Pull more mobs' (Attack more bad guys at the same time) as he was 'IMBA' (Which is short for Imbalanced - Meaning he was overly powerful, to the point of it being unfair) - So obviously, just after he said that, we all died.
Then we all died again.
Then the Tank left the group because he was sick of dying over and over again - I pointed out to our healer, that if he could have just kept the Tank alive, maybe he wouldn't have left.
He opened up with telling me that I should 'Learn to play', and that I was a 'Know nothing Noob'. I explained, rather calmly I thought, 'That there was the possibility that I had a little more experience, both of life and WoW than he did,' and asked how old he was.
He was 16
I told him that I was 45, he then went off on a tirade about how sad it was that a 45 year old man was still living with his parents in their basement.
I then explained that I lived in a very nice 3-storey house with my wife and children thank you very much, and asked if he'd noticed that a new Tank had joined our group and because he was so busy being abusive and not healing, that he'd died and left and that it was probably all his fault.
Then he got all shouty, and told me how I was being immature because I'd implied that I had more experience than him, just because I was nearly 30 years older.
I suggested in return that he had the reasoning power of a septic mallard.
Because we had no Tank, I took it upon myself to start to kill bad guys myself... He either refused or was unable to heal me and I died, then his friend also died as the enemies that had been attacking me, turned on her. He was so apoplectic with teen angst and bile that he'd not been able to save her, that he quit the group himself.
His friend came up to me later and apologised unreservedly for his behaviour, saying that he was exactly the same in real-life... A shouty, spoiled brat who acted like a dick all day every day.
And they say these on-line games are about escapism and being your ideal version of yourself.
Hope not... In-game I'm a seven foot tall green dude, with a white mohawk, tusks in my lower jaw and an armoured loincloth...
Actually, now I come to mention it.