Massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs, as they are more commonly known, are role-playing games that bring together a large number of players through the Internet.
A distinctive feature of MMORPGs is that they all offer a persistent virtual world to play in. These worlds often support thousands of simultaneous players, all of whom play as a single character in the game.
What does this mean?
In an MMORPG, you take control of a character (often known as an avatar) and guide their actions within the game. Most games offer an experience-based level system: a player guides his character through certain tasks, such as killing a monster, and in return increases his ability to repeat similar tasks. This is usually represented by a general skill level associated with the character and the sublevels that represent individual skills.
As the worlds persist, your abilities are saved, which means that the time and effort invested in the game are permanently reflected on your character.
For example, if you played a combat-oriented game, your overall fighting ability might be represented by a combat level; this level would increase each time you gain a predetermined number of experience points, granting more powerful skills and abilities. When you exit the game, everything is remembered, so the next time you play you can pick up where you left off.
Since MMORPGs connect thousands of players to the same virtual world, central game servers provide a synchronized experience for everyone. This means that if you kill a specific monster, it will not only disappear from your screen, but also from other players’ screens.
Live chat is generally available, written messages can be seen to other players in and around your location. It is also common for MMORPGs to allow exchange between players, as well as combat, duels and teamwork.
Playing in a group
A great aspect of playing an MMORPG is that almost all games provide a system for players to work together. This can be teaming up to take on tough enemies or pooling resources to advance team goals. These groups are known as clans or guilds.
Games in games
MMORPGs give players many different paths to follow, and the game’s players literally define the world they play in. This includes many items within the games created by the players themselves using collected resources.
This process is called Crafting and it is a very popular alternative to playing a combat-oriented character. Rather than physically dominating, artisans are usually very rich in game resources – they sell their wares for game money or other items.
Online or offline?
Offline games are great for relaxation and fun, but they can’t offer the combination of depth and social interaction that MMORPGs do. Character progression is the essential ingredient that allows you to focus on the aspects of the game that you like without worrying about the ones you don’t like.
Each character starts out with similar levels and abilities, but you will quickly customize your character, which means that few will be exactly like you.
If you like to play computer games, try an MMORPG. Once you start playing, you will never look back.