Release date: 1997
Fighter Ace was a free-to-play Second World War dogfighting game. You just logged in, spawned in a big sky with about 20 or 30 other people and shot the shit out of each other. It taught me that the Japanese Zero was one of the greatest fighter planes of WW2. Sure, it was lightly armoured and went down easily with just a few direct hits, but it was so manoeuvrable, so fast and agile that it could take on pretty much any other plane and come out on top.
I bought a flight stick and everything to play this game, but it didn’t really grab me as much as my uncle Dave, who built his own custom PC to play games on and had friends in America (all the way across the ocean!) that he played with regularly. It wasn’t much time after this that I built my own computer and I started making friends in America and other countries, many of whom I’m still in contact with now, and who share my passion for games. That’s another story entirely, but I think I can safely say that my introduction to how the online world can meet real life started with my uncle’s PC and Fighter Ace.