The first true multiplayer game I remember playing was Gauntlet (Atari, 1985) where up to four people were able to play together. Because of the arcade cabinet's configuration, what I remember most from playing Gauntlet (other than "elf needs food badly") is that my friends and I would push and jostle each other as we played the game. Even though Gauntlet is a cooperative game, we sure didn't play it that way. We were always trying to grab the health or be the first to activate the "smart bomb" potion.
The jostling continued through the years with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Konami, 1989) and Captain America and the Avengers (Data East, 1991). When Doom (id Software, 1993) reared its ugly demon head, the jostling became virtual via our local area network (LAN) connection. And by jostling, I mean blasting each other with plasma rifles during death matches. Multiplayer jostling has since evolved even further:
Head-to-head: two or more players compete against each other in real time on the same game system. Most sports, action, and some FPS games allow for head-to-head play.
Network/peer-to-peer: two or more play with and against each other in real time on machines connected via LAN or wide area network (WAN, aka "the Internet"). The difference between the two is proximity: WAN extends past a room, office, or campus. LAN parties (where everyone ...