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What is a MMORPG?

Michael Anissimov
Updated: May 16, 2024

MMORPG stands for massively multiplayer online role playing game, a type of massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). An MMORPG is a computer-based role playing game (RPG) which takes place in an online virtual world with hundreds or thousands of other players. In the game, a player uses a client to connect to a server, usually run by the publisher of the game, which hosts the virtual world and memorizes information about the player.

An MMORPG, like any RPG, allows the user to control a character represented by an avatar, which he directs to fight monsters for experience, interact with other characters, acquire items, and so on. MMORPGs have become extremely popular since the wider debut of broadband Internet connections, and now have millions of subscribers from hundreds of different countries. Some MMORPGs have as many as a million subscribers.

The roots of MMORPGs are in online, text-based adventures, which existed as early as the 1970s. The first real MMORPG, Meridian 59, was released in 1996, but it wasn't until the next year that Ultima Online popularized the genre. Both games were played on a pay-by-month basis, as are most modern MMORPGs. The genre surged into popularity throughout the late 90s, finding especially welcoming markets in Taiwan, South Korea, and America. In 1999, Sony Online Entertainment released EverQuest, a popular game to this day. Right around the same time, Asheron's Call was released, another MMORPG that would become extremely popular.

In 2001, the market appeared to plateau, causing the cancellation of some MMORPGs in development. New MMORPGs continue to be released, however, with dozens of popular games still being sold. One popular selling point is expansion packs, either downloaded from the server as patches or sold in stores. These expansion packs ensure that the virtual worlds in MMORPGs stay fresh and interesting, constantly changing.

Around 2000, MMORPGs began to attract the attention of academia — psychology and economics — and non-gaming publications. Reactions ranging from praise to distaste are common. Some critics say that such games turn players into lifeless zombies, while others celebrate the MMORPG as a fascinating new way for people to interact with each other.

Some MMORPGs have developed sophisticated economies with equipment, currency, and characters within the game being exchanged online for real money. This has led to the study of "synthetic economies" and how they relate to real world economies. As MMORPG worlds become increasingly more realistic and entertaining, they continue to permeate further into the mainstream, attracting both positive and negative reactions from all sides.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon951347 — On May 15, 2014

The first MMO wasn't Meridian 59, it was a little game from AOL in 1991 called Neverwinter.

By anon303572 — On Nov 14, 2012

@anon14371: You are not 13 yet. You need to be at least 13 to even begin some of the most basic and sad MMOs like rs or wow. Then after you turn 18, you can start trying out the real stuff.

By anon258766 — On Apr 03, 2012

You can save your game in some of them. And yes, in most MMORPGs you can play, interact and even talk with other players. But yeah I have also learned a lot from MMOs. In the game Mabinogi, I learned what synthesizing meant, and even used it for class one time. You can learn a lot of things from MMOs that even teachers don't teach.

By anon232254 — On Nov 29, 2011

That depends on which game you played. Some save automatically and some don't just save directly. A good example that saves automatically (but not mission) is AQworlds.

By anon159773 — On Mar 13, 2011

but what is the importance of playing it?

By anon133923 — On Dec 12, 2010

mmorpg games are definitely awesome. it helped me learn a lot from this article. I had no idea that I have been playing mmorpg games all this time. I also found a great discussion forum online. they have a huge community where people help you with anything related to mmorpg games and lots more.

By anon111390 — On Sep 16, 2010

Because it's an online game, it always saves, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You don't need to manually save your game, it is automatically saved.

By anon110399 — On Sep 11, 2010

I think you can save your game. Most likely they'll have these places where you save like in a village or something. However, in a quest you can't save your game. When you die, in some games you lose a level sometimes you start over. I'm not too sure.

By anon82370 — On May 05, 2010

thanks for info.

By anon38769 — On Jul 28, 2009

Good question... *Can* you save your game? Also, interact with other players, does that mean talk, exchange goods and possibly even fight? And if so what happens when you lose?

By melvin2008 — On Dec 12, 2008

A massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of computer role-playing games in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world.

By sticky — On Oct 12, 2008

This was a great article and it helped out a lot.

By anon14371 — On Jun 16, 2008

can you save your game on MMORPGs?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
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