A recent trend in computer gaming is the continuing and explosive growth of massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. While MMORPGs have been around for some time, the genre has now become more popular than ever before. Once considered a niche market for serious computer gamers only, MMO games now show up in mainstream marketing and advertising, television shows, movies and numerous other media.
An MMORPG is defined as a game where an extremely large number of people play and interact with each other within a virtual world online. In these games, players take on the role of a character and use that character to interact with other players and complete activities within the game. Often, the player takes control of the character’s actions, both in interpersonal ways and in game play activities.
A key difference between MMORPGs and single-player games or small-scale multiplayer games is the ongoing evolution of the game world even when the player is not online. Because of the scope of these games, the game is usually hosted by the publisher and is available at all times to players. As a result, an individual player can log off yet the game world continues to exist and evolve.
While many MMOs focus on a fantasy based realm, additional options exist. A player can find MMOGs set in countless eras and locations with nearly unlimited character options. A key component of these games is character individualization and most give players a great deal of control when it comes to creating their in-game persona or avatar. Ranging from appearance to skills, most MMORPGs allow the player to create a custom 3D virtual self.
Apart from character customization options, one of the most common goals of MMORPGs is the ongoing quest to level up or develop a character through game play and interaction. Most games provide activity options for all skill level characters, but players seek to improve their levels so they can participate in more difficult game activities.
With so many character options available, true role-playing is another key component of the games. Players typically spend their online time fully in the persona of their character, regardless of the setting of the game. One of the attractions of MMORPGs is the opportunity to fully immerse oneself into game play and the social world of the game. Players can interact with each other either as themselves or as the character they choose to play. Because most games have character based activities as well as larger-scale activities for groups of players, the best online MMOs give participants numerous ways to role play and interact with each other.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games are available around the world in all different languages and cultures. While many are organized using specific servers suitable for different geographic areas, players also have the opportunity to join groups of fellow gamers from any nation or background. MMORPGs are popular with a wide range of players and also across genders.