What are MMORPGs?
A MMORPG is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. "Massively multiplayer" is an apt description: these games allow thousands of gamers to interact at once, participating in the same game by competing against one another, forming large teams/"alliances" with other users, and by allowing these users to chat with one another.
Roleplaying is central to this type of game. Gamers assume a fictional identity--often a customizable avatar that can walk, move, run, fight, talk, and more in the game's virtual world. The game's focus is on playing a character and following the game's story, usually in a fantasy-based environment.
MMORPGs can vary in age appropriateness, from Everyone (any age) to Mature (17 years and up).These environments can contain anything from alcohol and tobacco usage by the players' characters to violence and suggestive themes in varying degrees. While MMORPGs come in all varieties, most include customizable characters, competition between other gamers, interaction with other players, and the ability to move upward in rank or level by completing certain tasks or quests.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of MMORPGs are often overlooked due to the increase in gaming addiction, and its harmful consequences. However, there are many benefits to MMORPGs. Users of MMORPGs are most frequently gamers prior to their introduction to MMORPGs - they have played either computer or console games before, most likely in isolated situations. MMORPGs pull these gamers out from their isolated gaming and into online communities where they can interact with others whereas before they would have been alone. Therefore MMORPGs lead to increased social interaction for many players. Players can form friendships over the games that can be beneficial.
Many players use gaming to remain connected to family members who are otherwise far away. Additionally, many of these MMORPGs encourage the formation of teams (sometimes referred to as guilds, or another name depending on the game) - these teams teach lessons about teamwork that are similar to the teamwork lessons learned by youth in sports teams. MMORPGs also encourage goal setting and provide a sense of accomplishment after the goals are complete. 1
What are the risks?
- MMORPGs come in all kinds and varieties. While some could be classified as good, clean fun, some MMORPGs contain violent, pornographic, or otherwise inappropriate content.
- MMORPGs allow players to interact with one another. While sexual solicitation is not a common problem in the gaming world (most players are focused on the game and head to chat rooms or social networks like MySpace to scout out victims), some gaming sites are notorious for cyberbullying and flame wars as emotions run high in the heat of an intense game. Swearing, insults, and vulgarity are commonplace in gaming conversations.
- MMORPGs are fun and engaging--and even addictive. Gaming addiction is a real problem for thousands of gamers across the globe.
- Some MMORPGs require a subscription fee or have bonus features accessible only through paying for access. Your child could be spending more money than you realize. See microtransactions for more information.
How Can I use MMORPGs safely?
- It's important for parents to be aware of the degree of different themes (violence, sensuality, alcohol and tobacco consumption, etc.) when their children play any game.
- Parents should be aware of who their children are interacting with and teach their children what to do if another player says or does something offensive or tries to ask for their personal information (name, age, gender, address, etc).
Where Can I Learn More?
Read our Newswire Report, Thinking Outside of the Box by Climbing in One.
Watch Dr.Knutson's interview on Insight with Jon Du Pre.