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What Is a Game Server? A Beginner’s Guide

What is a game server?

For people who want to play games online, it’s a term you’ll encounter a lot. It’s especially the case for people who love to play titles like Minecraft or Counter-Strike. Not a lot of people understand what it means and how to host one.

Fortunately, we’ve got a guide below to help you understand game servers better. Keep reading to learn how they work and what you need to host one yourself:

Defining a Server

A computer server is a device or network of devices that communicate with individual PCs. The server works like a central hub that unites each PC together, allowing them to share consistent information. You need a server, for example, to run a website.

Fortunately, you don’t need to manage a server physically at home, although this is an option for those who want it. You can pay for a hosting service and use their available hardware to act as a server for your needs.

Servers require some maintenance. This is why a website or a game can go offline for a few hours each week or month. People maintaining the server need to shut it down to run quality assurance and security tests.

There is also uptime maintenance. This refers to the period when a team tries to keep a server updated and patched without having to shut it down. This is a good strategy to keep an online game running 24/7.

What Is a Game Server?

A game server takes that basic idea to create a shared space for a virtual landscape. Any online game is a good game server example to look into. Think about games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or Fortnite.

These games involve thousands of people logging into the same world, interacting with each other, and joining or competing for rewards.

A game server holds and exchanges the information needed to create that shared experience. For example, if one player shoots a fireball at a giant monster, other players need to see that happen. The server handles the exchange and flow of that information for everyone playing.

Without a game server, the game on one person’s PC won’t be able to communicate with someone else’s. Their virtual worlds won’t synchronize and each player would go through a solo experience.

There are different types of game servers, which we’ll tackle below.

What About a Game Client?

Keep in mind that a game client isn’t the same as a game server. The client, which you install on your PC, is the software required to communicate with the server. You’ll need to update the client every so often to make sure it synchronizes with the information shared between the server and other players.

Don’t confuse the game client with the game itself. You need to install both.

The game requires installation so that your PC can access the files, assets, and coding to run the game. The client simply patches and updates the game with new content from the server. It also connects your game to the shared network with other players.

Whenever you log into your game, the client will need to update. It needs to download the newest information from the server to keep your end updated. This is especially the case when developers release new content, like an expansion or DLC.

Types of Game Servers

There are several types of servers to consider but the most common include dedicated and listen-servers.

A listen server is for a small community of gamers. In this type of setup, one of the players is also in control of the main server. They run the server that everyone connects to but they can also use their unit to play the game.

Dedicated servers are for much bigger communities. These are servers with the sole purpose of connecting all the players. Most dedicated servers require multiple computers, all of them stored in a cold room.

There are also peer-to-peer servers. In this scenario, every computer connected to the network has to participate in sharing and receiving data.

Games That Allow Dedicated Servers

What are some titles that allow players to run a dedicated game server?

Minecraft is the most common example. It’s one of the largest gaming communities in the world, after all. To date, Minecraft alone boasts over 130 million active players.

Ragnarok Online is another great game that allows people to host a dedicated server. It’s an early MMORPG, not unlike World of Warcraft, with a cute anime visual style. You can run a dedicated server and customize it as you like, allowing you to alter the experience rate, monster stats, and more.

Another great example is Gary’s Mod. This sandbox game allows players to make their world and play around with the physics engine. You can create any type of game using this platform and then share it with the world using a dedicated server.

How to Run a Server

How do you run a server for these games? There are two main options available. The first is to run a server at your place, using a server machine or separate PC to host the server.

Of course, private game server hosting requires you to keep the PC on 24/7. You may need to shut it off once a week for maintenance.

The other option is to pay for dedicated game server hosting services. This is the better route for most players since they don’t have to worry about maintenance or the manual labor of running a server.

Host a Game Server Today

What is a game server? It’s the house or network that allows games from all over the world to communicate. It’s what allows a player in Asia to play in the same virtual world as someone in Canada or the US.

Of course, hosting a server for a multiplayer game you love is only part of the fun. For more cool and informative posts on technology, marketing, loans, and more, feel free to keep on reading our other guides! We may have the list and tips you need!