What Is a MMORPG?

MMORPGs may be one of those intimidating acronyms that you occasionally hear from friends or strangers. It stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. This is somewhat self-explanatory, but to the uninitiated, it’s shrouded in mystery. As its simplest explanation, MMORPG is a video game genre which falls under a larger genre known as computer role-playing games (CRPGs). In an MMORPG, a large number of players interact in a virtual world set in the past or in the future. As it is a role-playing game, players have total control of their characters. All activities done in-game are in real time.

The term MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott, who made the genre popular with the creation of Ultima Online in 1997. Since its inception, the genre has experienced a tremendous growth and spurred a multitude of games that have continued to thrill the most loyal patrons and fascinate the new breed of online gamers.

The games under the genre are mostly based on fantasy themes, which more or less, are patterned from the popular tabletop game, Dungeons & Dragons. Those that deviate a bit from that theme are enjoying a rather occult following with the use of science fiction as its main theme. No matter what theme you fancy, there will be three elements that will persist as players start their adventures online: monsters, quests, loot. These are the staple in the MMORPG realm. These are the key elements that motivate players to spend countless hours and sleepless nights trying to design the progression of their characters.

Character progression is the main goal of the game. This is why characters in the virtual world have different levels. Depending on the game, a character can level as fast or as slow as his or her gaming time allows. This leveling system separates the men from the boys. Leveling up a character involves doing quests, either solo or with other players. In most cases, players have their own guilds or clans that they can turn to for some much needed assistance. Those that reach the level cap fast and have the epic items in their stash are often viewed as “uber” because of their superior gaming skills.

MMORPGs also introduced virtual economies that can rival even the real ones. Virtual items can be traded using virtual currencies which can be gold, platinum, copper, etc. The economies of the games are also what allow players to be more immersed in the game and have total control of how their virtual life should progress.

The games can be played on personal computers or laptops, but there have been plans for console-based MMORPGs to broaden the subscriber base. It’s important to know that these games can be played only if players have subscribed to them. This means that over and about the retail price of the game, players will have to pay a monthly subscription fee. This enables them to enjoy the existing game and the updates or new content that developers usually add periodically. Unlike single-player games, MMORPGs usually offer new content in the form of additional classes, quests, modules, and virtual worlds or areas. Given the additional monetary outlay, it is safe to assume that most MMORPG gamers are at their adult age with jobs.