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How do we define "MMORPG"?

GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 5,590Member Uncommon

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.

Comments

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    I look at it exactly like you laid out.

    MM = Enough people around to feel like I'm not the only one in the world, which might be 100 or 10,000. Chatbox shows activity, there's an economy. Most importantly, if I see something cool and want to share, there's someone else out there to share it with.

    Online = Online

    RPG = I created an avatar to be able to enter a virtual world. As soon as I do that, it's an RPG.

    I know folks who use mmos as a glorified chat client, and others who use it like a sprpg. And my experience is that it's a reflection of who we are in real life, despite attempts to play someone or something else.

  • AdamTMAdamTM Frankfurt Am MainPosts: 1,376Member
    Originally posted by GeezerGamer

    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.

    Its trying to do the impossible untill we actually define proper genres for games.

    We can't define anything because the taxonomy is all wrong and fucked up.

     

    We would need to drop all genre descriptors that are being used and start from scratch. First in line would be to separate Game from Simulation, then go from there, slowly clawing our way towards sub-sub genres, cross-genres and superpositioning.

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  • halflife25halflife25 Toronto, ONPosts: 737Member

    I usually quote wikipedia....and state it as a fact.

    *grins*

  • MukeMuke BredaPosts: 2,172Member Uncommon

    MMORPG: to me:

    -game, with a lot of players on a single server.

    no mention of forced grouping, cookie cutter builds or any pvp though....

     

    "going into arguments with idiots is a lost cause, it requires you to stoop down to their level and you can't win"

  • SereliskSerelisk somewhere, NYPosts: 836Member
    Originally posted by Muke

    MMORPG: to me:

    -game, with a lot of players on a single server.

    no mention of forced grouping, cookie cutter builds or any pvp though....

     

    That can be argued to be an MMO easily, but Planetside 2, under that description, is also an MMO-RPG. However, PS2 is a MMOFPS. 

  • AdamTMAdamTM Frankfurt Am MainPosts: 1,376Member
    Originally posted by Serelisk
    Originally posted by Muke

    MMORPG: to me:

    -game, with a lot of players on a single server.

    no mention of forced grouping, cookie cutter builds or any pvp though....

     

    That can be argued to be an MMO easily, but Planetside 2, under that description, is also an MMO-RPG. However, PS2 is a MMOFPS. 

    MMOFPSRPG

    It has character progression and roles.

     

    See, the genre-walls are already crumbling.

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  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXPosts: 1,416Member Uncommon

    Isn't this sort of like asking  'What is Dog??'  'Are Pug and Great Dane both Dog?'   

     

    It's a big overarcing term that includes lots of speciation amongst it's progeny.  Are you sure that trying to tease out the meaning of the thing from the associated elements gives more useful information than researching the 15th century pedigree of a word would?

     

    There are a lot of different attributes to the types of games available, and some folks will love and hate each aspect. 

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member

    I think MMO should be applied to any game that requires you to be online to play the game at all and has more than a few players interacting with each other.  I think the number of players that constitutes the "massively" part is fairly arbitrary.  Taking older games into account, 50 players on a server could equal "massively".  I think 50 is a nice cutoff, but that's just an arbitrary figure from my head.

     

    Where the trickiest part comes in is the RPG, you have that definitely right, Geezer.  I would say if you are playing (read - controlling) a character that has some kind of progression (levels, skills, gear, etc.), then it's an RPG.  But that means that not only are WoW and Skyrim RPGs, but so is Fallout and COD for that matter.  Most RTS games wouldn't fit into that definition.  While you are playing a "god" of sorts in those games, you are not actively controlling a character.

     

    Maybe there should be some other designator to go along with it.  For instance, I look at GW2 as a MMOFARPG, a MMO Fantasy Action RPG.  Fallout would be a MMOFPSRPG.  We all know what FPS is.

     

    Of course, adding extra designators will certainly cause even more confusion.

     

    I highly doubt that the majority of gamers would agree on a strict definition of a MMORPG.  However, I think most would agree on what specific title are not within that genre.

     

     

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    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • bugse82bugse82 pernikPosts: 185Member
    cmon, do we realy need that?

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  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 5,590Member Uncommon
    It's one thing when a game is deemed a "clone" of a game that preceded it. However, with the buzzword "innovation" being used to describe this game or that, you have to think, when a game truly does innovate and bring something new, it may be that we have to redefine what we once thought of as an MMORPG.
  • bugse82bugse82 pernikPosts: 185Member

    there are subgenres, you know...MANY, MANY of them!

    it's enough for me to know which game i'm interested for, and which not.

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  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GeezerGamer

    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.

    Honestly, I think most of us actually know what an MMORPG is. I don't think the majority of players are that confused over terminology. The massively part is fairly subjective, but it's within a threshhold where a specific numerical marker doesn't really matter. Once you're getting into the thousands, 10s of thousands, or even 100s of thousands of players, it doesn't really matter the specific number. It's more a question of the focus of the game. Is it large scale? or centered around 30 player instances (CoD).

    As for the term 'Role Playing Game', they aren't necessarily different from a Co-Op, or an Action game. We have Co-Op RPGs (Guild Wars), and we have Action RPGs (Skyrim).

    The line comes from the core focus on the game. Is it focused around some sort of story / narrative element? Or is the game focused around a specific mechanic (like shooting people in the first person). I.E. Planetside 2, at it's core, is mostly about shooting people. There's backstory, but the focus of the game lies heavily in shooting people. Hence, why it's labelled an FPS. Skyrim, on the other hand, has more of a focus on story & narrative. It has first person mechanics, but that's not the point of the game. The first person mechanics are used to tell the story, not the other way around.

    The one exception to this, would be story games. There is a bit of a blurry line here, and in many ways they are still kind of RPGs, but you are mostly playing out a story like a book. It's like playing an interactive book / movie. Games like Heavy Rain, Sherlock Holmes, etc.

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