Monday, March 22, 2010


What are MMORPGs?

MMORPGs stand for massively multiplayer online role playing games played mainly on the computer. They involve someone playing a character and controlling that character's actions. MMORPGs are played throughout the world.


Some examples of MMORPGs are World of Warcraft (WoW), EverQuest (EQ), Guild Wars (GW), and RuneScape. Almost everyone, if not everyone, has heard of World of Warcraft and I'm sure knows someone who plays it or knows someone who knows someone who plays it. It is a very popular game and one of the biggest examples out there. It's an amazing game, and yes, I played WoW for approximately 5 years. (Not anymore though) Smaller examples include games such as EverQuest, which was a very popular MMORPG during it's time. Guild Wars is also popular.


The history of MMORPGs is a little more complex. While MMORPGs date back as far as the mid 70s, what qualified as an MMORPG then, and what qualifies as one now has changed. Games that were massive then would not be so massive now. With that said, the first "MMORPG" was Island of Kesmai. It was the first commercial MMORPG and was launched in 1985. MMORPGs continued to develop, originally being developed for a proprietary network provider, they eventually migrated to the internet. It was this migration to the internet that would be considered the first generation of MMORPGs. The second generation was marked by the turn of the century with MMOGs (massive multiplayer online games) expanding into the different genres of video games. Finally, the current generation of MMORPGs is believed to have been started at the end of 2004, when games such as EverQuest II and World of Warcraft were released.


Some characteristics of MMORPGs (according to wikipedia) are progression, social interaction, game culture, economies, and character customization.


The idea behind progression is that players start playing the game and have very basic items and as they progress their characters become more advanced and they also progress through some sort of story line. Progression focuses on the development of a player's character. As players complete quests and other events within the game they are given "experience points" which allow them to reach levels. As a character progresses they become better at their specific role.

To give an example, in the game World of Warcraft as players complete quests or reach new areas they are given experience points. Players start at level 1 and can level to 80. Each level provides access to new moves and abilities and allows the character to go different places in the game. It should be said that progression does not stop with level in WoW though. After a player has leveled a character to 80, they are given the opportunity to visit various dungeons and kill bosses and receive special items which allows the to further develop their character.

Social Interaction:

All of the popular MMORPGs allow for users to come together and form clans or guilds. While it is not required to join a clan or guild, certain parts of the game are only accessible with groups of people working together. That is, parts of the game require teamwork, where players use the role of their character to contribute something to a group or guild.

In WoW, there are a lot of dungeons that you can visit and different levels and often times you can use your guild or clan to find groups and complete these dungeons. A typical group would involve a tank (a character who protects others), three dps (characters who are able to deal a lot of damage), and a healer (who keeps everyone alive). It is roles like these that players can develop their characters in, and often times, guilds or clans will recruit people according to their role.

On aside note from social interaction, their is a great web series about MMORPGs and the lives of these people who play these games. It’s called “The Guild" and it really is a funny web series about the lives of these gamers who happen to play an MMORPG.


Along with MMORPGs also comes game culture. In this sense, their are a lot of slang words that refer to various events within these games. These words have become popular. Some examples include words such as "buffing", "nerfing", and "camping"/"grinding". These words come to mean specific things within the game. Specifically, "buffing" refers to two things, it can mean the strengthening of a character or it can refer to the abilities that a player can cast to protect other players.


Again, in many of the popular MMORPGs their exists some sort of virtual economy. Where players are able to trade, sell, or buy virtual items using virtual currency. Their many more aspects to this, but the basic idea behind it is that by providing an in-game economy and allowing the trading, selling, and buying of items, interaction between players is increased.

People also believe that virtual economies within MMORPGs has some value / relationship to real economies, and some studies have suggested crossover between the two.

Character Customization:

Finally, the last characteristic that I’m going to talk about is character customization. Players often create a character of a specific class, and race of their choice. Players are also given the option of changing small features on their character such as eye color, skin color, hair color, type of hair, and other various attributes. However, character customization in some games is also taken a step further. To provide an example, I’ll use WoW (like I’ve done throughout this entire blog. WoW gives characters of each class to specialize in 1 of 3 trees, in each tree, a player has access to different abilities. In addition to that, the items that a player obtains for their character further adds to the customization of characters. It is in this sense that we refer to character customization.

There are tons of other characteristics of MMORPGs, I listed just a few of the main ones from my experience. If your interested, feel free to look up more.


While I’ve talked about the characteristics of MMORPGs in a positive light, there are some things negatively associated with it.

Particularly, though, I wanted to focus on addiction. MMORPGs are often times credited with ruining peoples’ lives and taking over it. From my experience, particularly with World of Warcraft, these games can really affect your life. But it should be said that the person chooses how much they play. I thought something of note was an article written in 2008 about a person who played 36 wow accounts at one time. He was spending approximately $5711 on the game subscription alone. That is absolutely an addiction.

If you’re interested.

The Future

MMORPGs really have changed the way games are played online. While, I don’t think I can conclusively say what will happen in the future, I think it is safe to say that as technology continues to develop and things become prettier and prettier, MMORPGs will continue to redefine itself and the way that we play games online. Using the example, that I’ve been using the whole time, World of Warcraft is one of the most popular MMORPGS and the worlds Most Subscribed MMORPG. It continues to grow, and with games like this at the forefront, it is hard to believe that MMORPGs will fade anytime soon.


"Massively multiplayer online role-playing game - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. .

century, the turn of the. "History of massively multiplayer online games - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. .

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