Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are becoming an increasingly popular recreational activity for social engagement. Transporting players to fantasy realms where they bridge the void between reality and the virtual world, via the creation of their online persona. Since the introduction of “table-top” games in the 70’s, social interaction has been shaped by various game dynamics. Following the evolution of the MMORPG genre, the author investigates the implication of these dynamics on in-game social interaction and personal creativity. Identifying the key drivers in a player’s motivation allows us to understand how different players are affected by the game’s dynamics through research by Bartle (1996) and Yee (2005). Retrospectively these games are being described as immersive due to game dynamics and social content, with a direct intention to increase play. The author also discusses anticipating the occurrence of problematic behavior and addictive nature of the technology.
When we think of MMORPG’s we usually restrict our thoughts to the last decade where this genre of gaming has really expanded. Predating these preconceptions I explore the origin and history MMORPG’s. Understanding the evolutionary timeline and the context of these games allows us to draw on current gaming functionality, examining the gaming dynamics, their introduction over time and their impact on traditional game design.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Player Organization: An association of players with common interests and goals within the MMO environment; sometimes called a guild or clan.
Player: The real person sat at the computer participating within the game, with his or her character.
Online Identity: is a social identity that network users establish in online communities, for this thesis this applies to the online identity formed within an MMORPG, and the persona the player takes on. See Introduction to online identity.
MMO Environment: Massively Multiplayer Online environment, or virtual world where the game takes place.
MMOG: Massively multiplayer online game; variety of game, which is capable of supporting thousands of simultaneous players usually within a virtual world or an MMO environment.
RPG: Role-playing game, a game where the player takes on the role of another character, acting and behaving like them.
Game Dynamics: Proportions of game functionality or characteristic created to intentionally encourage game play or game enjoyment; for instance, Social activities and Fighting.
MMORPG: Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Social Learning: Social learning refers to learning within a social environment e.g. MMORPG exclusively within Player Organizations.
Fantasy Genre: Is an art style that uses magic and supernatural forms to propel the narrative, theme and or setting. Originally descended from myths and legends these were early examples.
Character: The persona or role taken on by a player when he or she enters the game environment.
Reality: The non-game environment where the player exists, as opposed to the MMO environment where the character, avatar or persona exists.
Game: An activity structured with certain objectives, which are shared by participants, usually undertaken for enjoyment. With reference to this thesis “game” is used to describe the MMORPG’s, and activities preformed by its participants.