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We all know what MMORPG stands for (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) But what exactly does that mean? One thing I can say for certain is that it's entirely subjective.
Massively Multiplayer: We all will agree it means just what it says, but how many is that? How many players does it take to cross that threshold? It's tough to answer that until we know the context of the game in question. In a fantasy game, you cannot have too many players online in a single "realm" or cities and events become over populated and you can't get anything done, while that same number in a game like EVE would not be enough.
Online: Probably the least subjective part of the term, no doubt about that, you either are or you aren't. However, I would like to point out that many of what we call Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, do not need to be online and do not really need to be Multiplayer for them to function. People have called these games Single Player Online Role Playing Games which also makes me think they don't really need to be online.
Role Playing Game: This is probably the most subjective part of the term. Obviously, it means to take on a role. To play something or someone else. But, what defines an RPG? How is an RPG different than a Co-Op? Or an Action Game? Where so we draw that line and say, Yes this is an RPG or No, this isn't really an RPG? What does it need? Character Progression? Crafting? Creating a virtual world? Creating a virtual character? Do we need an economy? Trading? Is what I just listed needed at all? can a game have none of those and still be an RPG? What are the requirements for social interaction with others if it is online?
We have this site dedicated to games that all loosely fit into this genre and many of them are so dissimilar it's tough to think they both fit under the term and yet they do. Everyone has their own definition of the term and it's tough to agree, but I'm curious as to just how many differing definitions we have out there.