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How to Access Online Games with a Game Console

Connect to online games with a game console. The Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii game consoles have optional online game kits that enable you to connect to the Internet and play games with others online. Luckily, the broadband revolution that’s given so many of us high-speed Internet access at home (using cable modems or DSL) has come to the video game world.

Playing a video game by yourself can be a lot of fun, but some games are just meant to be played head-to-head against a human opponent. It’s a lot more fun to blow up your friends than it is to bomb an artificial computer opponent. This connection opens up a world of new opportunities in game play. Play head-to-head against your buddy across town — or across the country.

Following are specifics on how to play games online using the big three gaming consoles:

  • Microsoft Xbox 360: The Xbox 360 comes with online gaming capabilities — a Silver level is free and lets you join online gaming communities, download (or purchase) games online, set up a profile for yourself, and even communicate with others via voice (using the Xbox 360’s headset).

    If you want to get involved in playing head-to-head against other gamers online, you need to upgrade to the Gold level. Everyone gets a free month of Gold with their Xbox 360 — if you like it and want to keep your Gold status, you must pay. There are several subscription levels, depending on whether you buy in a store or online, and for how long. Check out Xbox LIVE for more information.

  • Sony PlayStation 3: PS3 users can take advantage of the PlayStation Network. This is a free network that allows game downloads, chat, and online head-to-head networked game play. To use PlayStation Network, just sign up from your console (its one of the settings options on the PS3’s onscreen display), and you’re ready to go. Certain games may require a paid subscription, and you’ll have to pay to download some games as well, but the underlying service itself is free.

  • Nintendo Wii: The Wii also includes networking capabilities and online game play through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. As with the other consoles, you can play networked games against others (for free), and you can also download and purchase content of all types from Nintendo and other providers. Nintendo uses a system called Channels to display various types of content on your TV screen — such as news and weather channels that let you use the Wii Remote to navigate around a virtual globe, finding current news and weather predictions around the world just by pointing. The Wii also includes an avatar (an online graphical representation of yourself) called Mii, which is your face when you go online on the Wi-Fi Connection network.

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