The dawn of the 21st century has given birth to a lot of advances for mankind; One of them being high speed internet. 20 years ago nobody even imagined the concept of Role Playing games like it is now. 15 years ago gamers were already ecstatic at the sight of Bulletin Board System games or BBS which could be played on any PC with a phone line. In the present the internet has improved greatly and it has given birth to limitless possibilities. Downloading, socializing and advertising are just a few of the advantages of the internet. But what has really surprised most people is the sudden boom in the online gaming community. Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have become a phenomenon of growing cultural, social, and economic importance, routinely attracting millions of players (Woodcock, p. 1). The cause of this can be explained by several factors summarized in the sense that online games provide a player’s wants and needs. People are able to live their dreams, live their lives and even monetize their gaming genius in online games.
People have often come across times wherein they are so full of anger from stresses of day to day life that the impulse of killing someone becomes irresistible. In online games these types of wants can be satisfied anytime. Online games wherein players can crash and burn, and kill anything and everything they want is what fuels the online gaming community. The fantasy filled gaming world is what keeps players enthralled to their keyboard and mouse. Online games satisfy the one thing that normal life can never give; the satisfaction of killing someone and getting away with it. Acting like a vigilante killing and acting like a complete criminal to other human players; people are able to live their dark fantasies. As malicious as it sounds, the latter is what drives some players, but not all. Some players are driven to the online gaming community by the excitement of adventure. Moving around in a new found world filled with danger around every corner, with nothing but wits and friends to help you, this is what drives most players. Gamers strive on the fact they can live a life where there are no rules, where they are in control, wherein they can live a life that they know they can never have in reality.
Another factor that allures players into the online gaming scene is the social factor. One can argue that there are bars, parties and speed dating to do all these things. Who needs to move around when a gamer can do it from the comfort of one’s own living room? Then another point can be raised saying that there are instant messengers and friend networking sites for this. True, but having fun while meeting new people is better overall, like the old saying “hitting two birds with one stone”. What makes online games so alluring with regards to the social factor is summarized in this quote by Ducheneaut. What makes a difference for many is apparently the shared experience, the collaborative nature of most activities and, most importantly, the reward of being socialized into a community of gamers and acquiring a reputation within it (407- 415). The fact still remains that being ahead of others has always been the drive of people to do what they do, and being applauded by your peers just puts the icing on the cake. Acceptance and respect from peers has always been the main objective of teenagers and the online gaming industry feeds on this need to drive their growth.
One of the main allures of online role playing games is the monetary factor. Players buy and sell their characters or online goods in the real world for actual dollars. Players in China and elsewhere are said to play the games to make money. They accumulate online “gold” that they in turn sell to other players for actual currency (Lamb 1). The perfect job for the lazy couch potato has been made. Sitting down and having fun has never been this rewarding. Sweatshop workers would kill themselves for working their backs off only to find out that a 15 year old can earn their weeks pay playing for two hours. Some sites even make a business out of online games, offering power leveling for obscene prices that prey on game addicts. The bottom line is the allure of earning money while doing what one loves to do has always been one of the greatest satisfactions of life.
All in all Massively Multiplayer Online games are so compelling because of the fact that they satisfy the most basic needs of their market. This being the need for acceptance, the need of letting go and relieving stress and of course what the human dream has always fantasized about, working and loving it. For these reasons the gaming community has grown enough to be called an industry and become an annoyance to parents of addicted teenagers. The online gaming community is the land of milk and honey for people if in moderation.
- Ducheneaut, Nicolas, et al. ““Alone Together?” Exploring the Social Dynamics of Massively Multiplayer Online Games” Games and Performances (2006): 407-415
- Lamb, Gregory M. “Are multiplayer online games more compelling, more addictive?” 2005. The Christian Science Monitor. Web.
- Woodcock, B. “An Analysis of MMOG Subscription growth” version 18. 2009.