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Massive(ly) Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or MMORPGs are virtual persistent worlds located on the Internet in which players interact with each other through cybernetic avatars, that is, graphical representations of the characters they play.

MMORPGs are computer games that trace their roots to non-graphical online MUD games, to text-based computer games such as Adventure and Zork, and to pen and paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.

Most MMORPGs run several identical copies of the virtual world, called "shards" or "servers", that the player can choose from. They strive to allow the player to shape their own experience by providing multiple (or customizable) avatars that the player can use. Once a player enters the world, they can engage in a variety of activities with other players who are accessing the game the same way from all over Earth. MMORPG developers are in charge of supervising the virtual world and offering the users a constantly updated set of new activities and enhancements to guarantee the interest of players.

Most MMORPGs are commercial in that a user must pay money for the client software and/or a monthly fee, in order to continually access the virtual world. Still, some totally free-of-charge MMORPGs may be found on the Internet, although their quality is generally lower compared to commercial MMORPGs. Some of the most popular commercial MMORPGs are Ultima Online (1997), EverQuest (1999), Asheron's Call (1999), Anarchy Online (2001), Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings (2002) and Star Wars Galaxies (2003). Of all MMORPGs, Lineage has the most subscribers and is the most popular in Korea. There are also several projects in development to create high-quality free MMORPGs, such as PlaneShift, or a free game engine for MMORPGs, such as Arianne. See list of MMORPGs for more.

Table of contents
1 Academic attention
2 Browser-based MMORPGs
3 Genre challenges
4 Related topics
5 External links

Academic attention

MMORPGs have begun to attract significant academic attention, for example in economics. With the growing popularity of the genre, a growing number of psychologists and sociologists study the actions and interactions of the players in such games. One of the more famous of these researchers is Sherry Turkle.

Browser-based MMORPGs

A sub-genre of MMORPGs are largely text-based and played in a browser. Browser-based MMORPGs are usually simpler games than their graphical counterparts, typically involving turn-based play and simple strategies of "build a large army, then attack other players for gold", though there are many interesting variations on the popular theme to be found.

One of the earliest examples of a browser-based MMORPG is Archmage (now defunct), which dates back to early 1999. A currently extremely popular browser-based MMORPG, with players numbering in the hundreds of thousands, is Kings of Chaos. Kings of Chaos' popularity is primarily fueled by a reciprocal link clicking system where users give each other more soldiers by clicking on their friends' unique links, taking advantage of the Small_World_Phenomenon to spread word of the game across the world.

Genre challenges

Most MMORPGs require significant development resources to overcome the logistical hurdles associated with such a large production. These games demand large worlds, significant hardware requirements from the developer (e.g., servers and bandwidth), and dedicated support staff. Despite the efforts of developers cognizant of these issues, reviewers often cite non-optimal populations (such as overcrowding or under-populated worlds), lag, and poor support as problems of games in this genre.

In addition to the challenges faced in making an MMORPG, designers also must face problems largely unique to the genre:

Related topics

External links