Massively Popular - MMORPGs
By Marri Lynn
For those who find themselves having difficulty advancing through an area or to a specific level in their quest for online supremacy have somewhere to turn; online 'leveling companies' offer their services for the time-constrained or bedraggled gamer. For a fee, players can let these 'professionals' borrow their characters in order to accomplish what mission is requested of them. The existence of such organizations points to how important the online experience, and advancement, is to some players.
A minority of players enjoy the creative role-playing aspect of MMORPGs over the competitive stats-based portion, and will interact with in-character dialogue as much as possible, preferring this playacting to out-of-character interactions.
The two philosophies of play often come into opposition, engaging in both friendly, though occasionally vindictive hostilities. The grammatically lax and spelling-impaired out-of-character jargon is a favorite point of mockery amongst those who favor role-play over combat and pursuit of treasure or experience, whilst the dungeoneers style the role-players as pretentious and overblown. Many role-players retreat to the more supportive embrace of text-based games for this reason, where the multitude of combat and mission-oriented players don't care to venture. MUSHes are a good outlet for this, for they seldom even support stat systems for combat, but encourage a purely role-playing environment.
MMORPGs remain popular amongst the majority, however, because of their graphic elements and the challenges and fun they pose. They offer social interaction as well, supporting both textual chats and voice broadcast. Console games have begun to tap into the popularity of online gaming, with the Playstation and XBOX franchises producing more games compatible for their network systems than ever before, most notably Final Fantasy XI and Halo 2. The feelings of cooperation, community, and competition keep players hooked.
Online games provide what clubs and sports offer, yet from the comfort of your own home. Human rivals and companions are infinitely more engaging and entertaining than what even the most advanced Artificial Intelligence programs have offered. For these reasons, it is unlikely that the popularity of MMORPGs will wane within the near future; the industry continues to tantalize its captive audience with more exciting game concepts, and more invigorating graphics each year. With the release of the online-compatible XBOX 360, the Playstation 3, and faster and more high-powered computers being developed, imagination rather than technology is fast becoming the limit for developers, and players are eager to see what adventures might turn up next.