This genre’s distinguishing features are that it allows players to meet and socialize with millions of players online through a personalized avatar, as well as taking quests, fighting other players, collecting armour, weaponry and other such things, forming a guild, raiding and stockpiling gold, all while watching their character grow, either ‘physically’ or in strength. This genre is supposed to grant players another life in another world.

The first commercial ‘MMORPG’ (subject to possible connections at the time) was a game called ‘Island of Kesmai’, developed by John Taylor and Kelton Flinn in 1985. It allowed for different alignments (lawful, neutral, evil and chaotic for computer generated enemies), that changed depending upon your actions to other players. Having an evil alignment would keep the player from entering towns without being attacked, and opened up new routes to dungeons.

The game had multiple classes (setting users apart from other players), and players levelled up by doubling their experience.

The precursor to the MMORPG was the MUD, which allowed users to connect via TELNET to a text-based multiplayer RPG in the vein of Dungeons and Dragons.

A game that is particularly synonymous with MMORPGs is World of Warcraft. This reached 9 million users in July 24th, and has maintained 8 million of them since then. One of the main reasons that this a representative of MMORPGs, is that it has been referenced and parodied in various popular media, such as South Park. It brings together many elements of standard MMORPGs, and set a standard for other games in the same genre.

The major steps forward in this genre mainly relate to user interface upgrades, interaction between users, and the amount of users within the same area. For example, the genre has evolved from text-based, to 2d, to a fully 3d world. Interaction, and as such, empathy have been improved as well, from the inclusion of RP servers to simple commands that display the player’s emotion through their avatar. The amount of users allowed to connect to a single area within MMORPGs has increased dramatically, as well, starting at 10 connections, ranging to thousands at a time.

Sub-genres within the MMORPG genre generally depend upon the setting of the game, such as science-fiction or fantasy, two of the most common genres. There are other offshoots of the MMO genre, though, such as MMOFPSs (Huxley being an example of this) and MMORTSs (Shattered Galaxy being an example of this).

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