What Is “MMO”?
The original term, as far as I know it, was MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. It spawned when the concept of the RPG game was taken live across the Internet and introduced to hundreds of thousands of players in a simultaneous world (I don’t know how the term MUD fits into this or even if had anything to do with the term MMORPG so feel free to shed some light on it if you know). Since then people have often shortened the term to simply MMO and used it to define RGP style games like World of Warcraft and Everquest.
The term has also been prefixed onto other classic gaming terms like FPS giving, you guessed it, MMOFPS. Tabula Rasa for instance was often called this (whether that was truly accurate or not) and now we’ve got the forthcoming Global Agenda which certainly fits the bill quite aptly.
Aside from being shortened to more conveniently describe MMORPG, you have to wonder if the term MMO isn’t actually a genre unto itself. Technically speaking there are lots of MMOs out there. Quake Live is a MMO and so are games played over Battle.net. They’re “massive”, they’re “multiplayer” and they’re “online”. So really we could define MMO as any game that involves a lot of players over the Internet, not necessary something that fits into the Ultima Online or original Everquest gameplay style.
Although this may all sound like pedantry waffle (and it probably is), it could have quite a big impact on the future of our gaming. If MMO really is a genre by itself, then the barriers that define games are going to start dropping and we’ll be seeing vast varieties of them going massive, multiplayer and online.
It also shakes up our traditional definition of MMORPG. Take Torchlight for example. Runic have stated that they will release a “MMO version” but, frankly, that could mean anything. It might end up being a vast world spanning multiple servers like World of Warcraft, a single world like EVE Online or something like a heavily instanced, arcade style world like Warrior Epic. Either way, it will be interesting to see.
So there you have my take on what “MMO” is. What does this really mean to me though? Well, not much other than I’m probably going to have to change the strap line for my blog. We Fly Spitfires – MMO Blog? Doesn’t quite roll of the tongue the way MMORPG does