Should We Actually Call MMOs ‘Games’?

Every so often Nils’ blog gets on a roll of good posts. Right now he’s on such a good roll it must be made of Belgian chocolate. Yesterday he put up a post which is, I grant, a little convoluted. But it’s also so thought provoking – and frankly, throwing out the idea that MMOs might not be games, not really, is going to disarm your average intelligent gamer. Like us.

So what does he mean? Nils is comparing MMOs to traditional games like chess and soccer, and what traditionally makes a ‘game’. he suggests that MMOs might not have rules, not really. If you want to kill a king in an MMO you don’t have to move your priest diagonally so they least expect it, like in chess (or Discworld). And as if that wasn’t enough, there aren’t any single, over-arching goals.

There are goals, just not one higher-ranking one. Instead, the goals appear naturally while the simulation runs it’s course. The most trivial example is you meeting a ‘monster’. That ‘monster’ attacks you and to ‘die’ is now considered to ‘loose’. Suddenly there is a goal, like ‘defeat the monster’ or ‘escape as unharmed as possible’. But this goal is setup by the player. The designer has some influence, but ultimately the player decides what he wants to do. … But how did the player even get there? What was his goal before he met the ‘monster’?

Nils’ conclusion on the whole thing is interesting, and ties around the idea that MMOs are comprised of minigames – and how they stick together. A fascinating topic and I’d like to see if anyone else adds to his commenter, who bravely ventured a view using a few long ‘n complicated (but interesting) words. Oh, and to go back to the roll thing – Nils also picked up on Melmoth’s topic from yesterday about how being a hero’s kinda over-estimated these days.

What do you think – are MMOs games, no contest, or are they something else – or take ‘game’ to a new level?

_Quote taken directly from Nils’ post

You can find Nils Blog here_


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