MMORPGWith the emergence of the game industry, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games have come to an existence. Games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft are currently the leading online games in the world with more than millions of subscribers worldwide. Players who share the same interest gather together in a virtual world and play together in order to progress more rapidly in the game.

The role of the media

The development of digital media gave rise to the large game industries, which create games for both teenagers and adults. Furthermore, it became possible to play with several players at the same time instead of being a single player. Digital media has even developed in such a way that currently millions of gamers can play and communicate at the same time. The development of digital media has played a crucial role in the emergence of MMORPGs, since the possibility was also created to communicate and play with others around the world. However, the effects of the MMORPGs on its users is still an issue that is heavily discussed nowadays. While some researchers claim that there are only negative sides of MMORPGs, others state that there are definitely some positive aspects as well. Nevertheless, it can be questioned where the line should be drawn between the normal use and the excessive use of MMORPGs and whether the effects are as severe as some researchers suggest. Many players consider their playing as a leisure time activity, while others cannot determine whenever they have to stop playing. Especially the second case is dangerous, because these players are the ones who can eventually become addicted.

Multi-player games

The development of the Internet was the major factor in the creation of games which could be played with multiple people at the same time. Since the Internet created the opportunity to communicate with people all over the world, it also became possible to play games with different people who were located at the other side of the world. So, instead of playing games which were meant for one single player only, multiple players had the possibility to play online games together. The first game that was designed in a graphic virtual world is the game Maze War in 1974. The aim of the game was to shoot other players and try to gain as many points as possible without being shot by your opponents. Apart from the fact that it was the first game located in a virtual world, it was also the first game that could be played on different computers where players could visually interact in the same virtual worlds. In 1985 the game Island of Kesmai became available, which is considered to be the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game had the ability to create a character, enter a chat room and to play in a virtual world. The characteristics of Island of Kesmai are still present in the MMORPGs.

More advanced MMORPGs

A few years later in 1991, the graphical MMORPG Neverwinter Nights was designed and became available to the public for the price of $6.00 per hour. Nevertheless, the commercial purposes of the Internet were limited in the early 1990s and the online games relied on private services in order for their games to be distributed. In 1996 NCSoft, which is still a developer of MMORPGs, launches games such as Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds and Lineage which gained enormous popularity among gamers in South Korea and Taiwan. The developer which brought the world of MMOPRGs to the Western world was Verant Interactive, currently known as Sony Online Entertainment. In 1999 they developed the game EverQuest, which has been the most successful MMORPG in the US  for a few years. Many characteristics of the game originated from the MUD games, multi-user dungeon, which involved the combination of online chat, multi-player use and interactive fiction. In that same year Ultima Online and Asheron’s Call were launched. These last three games are also known as the three most successful MMORPGs of the late 1990s. The current generation of MMORPGs which is based on gameplay, graphics and popularity has been released in November 2004. In this year Sony Online Entertainment released the second version of their first game EverQuest II. Due to the success of EverQuest Sony Online Entertainment was convinced that EverQuest II would be as successful as their first game. Since players still had to pay a monthly fee in order to be able to play their games, Sony decided to offer one monthly rate which would give the players the opportunity to play both EverQuest and EverQuest II. EverQuest II was, as Sony expected, a great success however World of Warcraft became even more popular.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is currently the most successful MMORPG with over 10.3 subscribers. Blizzard Entertainment, the developers of WoW, have released different game sets in order to make their game more attractive and even more challenging for its users. Furthermore, since WoW is the most popular MMORPG many researches have been conducted on the influences the game has on its players. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed 2000 chat room posts about WoW, in order to find out what the players were discussing. The game is located in a virtual fantasy world where players gather, battle and hunt in order to move to higher levels. Additionally, the players who form groups and work together are more likely to succeed faster. The researchers came to the conclusion that the game encourages scientific thinking, like using systems and models for understanding situations and using math and testing to investigate problems. One of the researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was professor Constance Steinkuehler. The professor stated that many aspects of the game encourage the being of a good and productive citizen. As an example, he argued the fact that players learn to communicate and interact closely with each other while playing the game, and that players do not succeed in the game if they don’t cooperate.

Reasons to play

Several researchers have conducted research in order to find out what the motivations are of the players. One of these researchers classified the gamers in four different categories: the killers, explorers, achievers and socializers. Motivations of gamers to use MMORPGs can be divided in five main motives. The first motivation given is the achievement seeking. Many players do not feel as powerful and confident in the real world as they do in their virtual world. In contrast to the reality world, it is much easier to gain power, compete with others and optimize the performance of a character. Secondly, sociability is stated as one of the reasons of gamers. The chat rooms available in the MMORPGs create the possibility for gamers to communicate and help each other while playing the game. It is also common that whenever players form a team, they are more likely to progress rapidly in the game than individual players. Furthermore, the creation of teams can be comparable to the formation of an online community. In comparison to the formation of a community in the reality world, communities are formed in the virtual world among people who have something meaningful in common. The immersion of players into the game is given as a third motivation. Some gamers believe that by creating another identity and being able to control this character, they have the possibility to escape from the problems in real life. Also, the fact that they are situated in a complete other environment contributes to the avoidance of real life problems. Another reason players are attracted to MMORPGs is the seeking of sensation. Gamers are capable of performing actions which they cannot perform in real life, such as killing other characters. Researches in the past have suggested that sensation seeking is a possible explanation for different forms of behavior of the gamers, for example the use of drugs, violent behavior or sexual tendencies. The last motivation is leisure boredom.

Effects of MMORPGs

One of the most debates issues concerning the effects of MMORPGs is the link between violence in the virtual world and aggressive behavior of players in real life. Many studies indicated that people playing violent games are more likely to have aggressive thoughts and feelings, and behave in a more aggressive way. The explanation given for the aggressive behavior of people playing online games, is the fact that they are exposed to the violence actions, such as stabbing, shooting and killing, and are therefore more vulnerable for copying this behavior. After the terrible event in Oslo in July 2011, where Anders Breivik killed 77 people, it was argued whether his behavior could be linked to the game Modern Warfare 2. Breivik wrote in his document that he considered the game to be part of his training-simulation, since it was the best military simulator out there and it’s one of the hottest. Another possible and negative consequence is the fact that gamers are socially isolated. The online gamers spend less time with family and friends, since playing games could become their main time consumer. A US website called Online Gamers Anonymous states that MMORPGs encourage interaction between people and provides an escape for their struggles in real life. Nevertheless, it could also have negative impacts on successful social lives. One of the aspects of online games that is being heavily discussed is the impact they have on the academic achievement of an individual. While some studies have shown that playing MMORPGs have a negative influence of the learning abilities of children and students, other studies have proven that playing online games increases the learning potential. Online games, such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest, involve the analysis of the moves of the character, problem solving skills and the estimation of the actions of both your character and the actions of your opponent. The consequences of heavy usage are more severe than those who play online games on a regular and normal basis, because the excessive use of playing MMORPGs could result in addiction.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1245x
Added: 22-10-2016 20:40
Last modified: 10-11-2016 21:49

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