In this design analysis, first published in the March 2009 issue of Game Developer magazine, Maxis designer Soren Johnson (Spore, Civilization IV) addresses the potential of asynchronous multiplayer gaming.
One of the first things that separated video games from board, card, and parlor games was real-time interaction. The computer could handle all the details and challenges inherent in allowing two (or more) people to play the same game at the same time.
Indeed, despite the name, the first multi-player video games may have had their roots more in sports than in games. Pong, after all, was inspired by table tennis. These early experiences were inherently synchronous, meaning that the players experienced the game together, at the same time, on the same machine.