Massive Multi Player Online Role Playing Games
The simplest MMORPG available is Farmville. In some ways, it is more an independent game with some social interaction there just to promote the game. There is hardly any serious interaction between the players nor is there any kind of competition. Then we have games like Sims or Second Life which are virtual representations of the real world – maybe a simpler representation. You do all things similar to what people do in real life but you can choose to be someone else. You can take up some other profession, live a different lifestyle, and have different set of friends and a different spouse. In some ways it is basically all the interesting emotional highs of life without the drudgery. You go to work but don’t need to actually do any work, you manage a home but actually don’t need to do any real household chores nor worry about consequences as whatever happens to you as nothing is permanent and you can start all over again. Maybe that is why people find it so addictive – I read a news article about a Korean couple who were so addicted to taking care of a baby in a game that they ignored their real baby and let it die.
My interest in this type of games is again from the perspective of science fiction and fantasy stories. Many of the games such as War Craft and Travian are set in historic, fantasy or science fiction worlds. So you get to experience a life in a complete different world along with thousands of other people. Isn’t that one of the reasons we like to read fiction, especially in the science fiction, fantasy and historic genres?
The one game I have played in this genre is Travian. The objective of this game is to build an empire. The game is essentially a map and each player is a war lord trying to establish his fiefdom by capturing portions of the map. Every tile on the map has resources and serves as a place to establish a city. The player has to gather various resources – wood, metal and gold and use them to build his cities and armies. Once there are armies you can attack other players’ towns to seize their resources. You have to spend resources on building defenses to prevent other players from attacking your towns. And as the game progresses, you need to form alliances with other players to pool resources and grow together. The game has feature to make these alliances formal kingdoms with hierarchies. So the game evolves into a team game where different kingdoms vie for world dominations. Different kingdoms negotiate alliances, sign treaties and wage wars. Individual players try to fit into the hierarchy of their kingdoms or leave and join a rival kingdom or found one of their own. So finally the game boils down to leadership abilities, team player skills, negotiation skills and strategy. This game proceeds for almost a year at the end of which one kingdom emerges as the winner and then a new game starts.
War Craft apparently is a more complex game where one can have a richer experience with more individual involvement in the game and more fantasy elements. In Travian, only clan leaders have lot of decision making – the rest mostly end up being drones who follow orders in the later part of the game. But from what I have heard of War Craft it is more an individual adventure – so it is more likely to be a more rewarding experience for the individual. I have already covered the single player War Craft which I have played in my post on War Strategy Games. Also from what I have heard, it may have some elements of what I have mentioned in my post on Role Playing Games. I have not tried it out due to the paucity of time – these things can get addictive and wreak havoc on your life. But I sure will give it a try someday when I am sure I have nothing important going on in my life for the next foreseeable year or so.
So overall, I would say this is an interesting medium for people to virtually live out their fantasies. These games are also interesting places to try out social experiments to see how people interact in groups. Many companies actually use these games for research purposes. And from a writer’s perspective, they are another medium to try out one’s world building skills. Also in more complex games, a writer can look to be a dungeon master for thousands of players and manage a dynamic world for them. The possibilities are endless.
Coming up next week - Board Games
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