MMORPGs in Support of Learning : Current Trends and Future Uses

MMORPGs in Support of Learning : Current Trends and Future Uses

Bodi Anderson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch003
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This chapter provides an overview of current massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) research and creates a conceptual framework for their use in support of learning. Initially, a definition of MMORPGs in education is considered in light of research to date. Here attention is paid to how MMORPGs differ from most video games in terms of types of player–game interaction, levels of player–player interaction, environments in which interaction occurs, and the ability for MMORPGs to tap into student motivation levels. Based on this definition and considering previous theoretical and empirical studies on MMORPGs from a variety of disciplines, including education, psychology, and linguistics, a conceptual framework for the use of MMORPGs in support of learning is created. Next an overview of current research trends in MMORPGs is examined, concluding with suggestions concerning future research of the use of MMORPGs in support of learning.
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In order to better understand modern day MMORPGs, this chapter will first look into the history and technological innovations of various types of games that served to shape and influence current MMORPGs. MMORPGs evolved out of online multi-user dungeons (MUDs), which were preceded by computer role-playing games (CRPGs) and, in turn, pencil and paper (PnP) role-playing games (RPGs) such as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D; Childress & Braswell, 2006). This becomes more clear when one breaks down the acronym in reverse: “RPG” stands for role-playing games, which were originally non-digital (PnP and D&D), “O” stands for online, which signifies the shift of the medium from analog to digital (primarily, CRPGs), and “MM” stands for massive multiplayer, signifying the shift from a small number of players to large numbers (MUDs).

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