Since the beginning of time, humans have entertained themselves by telling each other stories, singing songs and challenging each other in competitions. In some ways, not much has changed over the years. Instead of telling stories, we watch movies and TV shows, instead of singing songs we listen to music on Spotify or YouTube and we play video games with each other to satiate our competitive spirits. Of course, that is a reductive way of looking at things – entertainment has changed enormously over the years and especially since the rise of the internet. Streaming films, TV and music and playing games online is entirely reliant on the internet. It has changed how we entertain ourselves.
The internet has had a huge impact on how we game. Before the internet began to seep into gaming in the mid-1990s, games were enjoyed either alone or with friends on the couch. DOOM, Quake and Counter-Strike were the first big online gaming phenomenons before the 2000s really took things up a notch with World of Warcraft, Halo and Call of Duty. Now people were spending several hours a week playing with and against players from all over the world.
Game publishers and developers saw the money-making potential of this and began putting multiplayer in everything, even games which didn’t really warrant it. Bioshock 2 and Spec Ops: The Line were two such examples of games that didn’t require multiplayer but had it shoe-horned in anyway. The internet also means that developers can fix any bugs and errors through downloadable patches – this has the twin effect though of games sometimes being released not fully functional because developers know that they can patch them later.
On top of that, the internet has also made watching other people playing games a legitimate form of entertainment. Sites like Twitch and YouTube are now home to streamers who make millions from playing games while talking about them.
Outside of the video variety, the internet has changed things for other games. Tabletop game fans can watch previews and reviews of new tabletop games and even find other people to play with through forums and message boards. The lottery has also been affected by the internet – now you can buy your lottery tickets online through sites like FreeLotto and get tips on how to win even bigger.
The internet, until very recently, was seen as the death of the music industry. Back in the late 90s, the music industry was at its peak, with CDs leading sales. The industry managed to reach a huge peak of $27.8 billion before beginning its decline. The decline was caused by the internet on two fronts. The first front was that people were less willing to pay as much for music downloads on platforms like iTunes than they were for physical CDs. This meant lower prices and less revenue for the industry. The second front was more worrying for the industry – the pirate scourge. Sites like LimeWire and Napster allowed people to download any music they wanted for free – of course, people were tempted by this.
However, while the internet was responsible for this decline, it is also responsible for the subsequent reversal of fortunes that the industry has experienced in recent years. In 2016, the music industry recorded its best year since the boom of the late 90s, citing the growth of platforms like Spotify. Both Spotify and YouTube see huge numbers of streams of songs. As well as streaming services, people are using the internet to buy CDs, vinyl and even cassettes.
TV and film
The internet has probably had a negative effect on many people’s productivity since movie and TV streaming services became big. Now, instead of getting chores done, you can just spend the entire evening watching six episodes back-to-back. Of course, in the past, people used to binge on DVD boxsets but now Netflix shows us an entire range of shows that we have instant access to.
Most people watch in moderation and streaming services are a great way of finding new shows and films to watch because they also make recommendations based on other things that you’ve watched, potentially opening you up to new cinematic experiences.
The internet has changed entertainment as we know it. However, it has also changed so many other aspects of our lives including how we shop, how we socialize and even how we date.