As the battle of the handheld gaming systems hots up, one of the emerging must-haves is proving to be the capability of Wi-Fi gaming. As the term implies, Wi-Fi gaming involves playing games via a Wi-Fi internet connection to other players. The two most popular handheld gaming consoles, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo DS, both allow Wi-Fi gaming, across the PlayStation Network and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Network, respectively. There’s nothing better than being able to play with your friends who are all hooking up in Airport Madness 4 and getting into a simulation match together.
Wi-Fi gaming allows users to compete against others connected to the internet nearby or even on the other side of the world. Even if you don’t have friends who have an interest in gaming, with 53 million Nintendo DS consoles and 25 million PSP consoles sold worldwide, it is unlikely that there won’t be anyone to play against, regardless of your preferred gaming genre. Wi-Fi networks are accessible within the transmitting range of a wireless access point, or hotspot. In the US, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has gone as far as to offer free Wi-Fi access to all of its residents.
In the UK, Norwich is pioneering a free city-wide Wi-Fi project, employing 200 antennas to cover the city centre and three sectors of the city. Similar projects are being planned for other major UK cities, such as Manchester, London and Birmingham. For those not lucky enough to live in a city with a comparable scheme there are several free Wi-Fi connections in cafés, pubs and public places such as airports, and Nintendo have even struck a deal with McDonald’s in order to provide designated Wi-Fi access for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Network. In the UK there are currently 7500 branches offering this facility.