MMO. Why Bother With The RPG?
Whilst writing yesterdays article, I noticed something a little odd about Ten Ton Hammer’s 2009 MMO awards (note that their tagline was “Recoginizing excellence in the MMOGs of 2009″): their award for best RPG went to... Dragon Age: Origins?
DA:O is a great game and deserves recognition but I was slightly baffled as to why it was happening in an award “ceremony” reserved purely for MMO games. Unless I slept through a gigantic patch, Dragon Age is strictly an offline single player game and thus not only should it not even be a consideration for the category but surely it should be getting stomped into tiny little pieces by all of those glorious games that are defined, by name and nature, as being Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.
However, as Ten Ton Hammer pointed out in the article, they couldn’t actually find a MMORPG that offered any decent sense of roleplay or story and therefore had to look further afield for something suitable. A little odd but, more to the point, extremely concerning. If not even a single cotton-pickin’ MMORPG can win an award for being a RPG in the MMO category then, by Gawd, something must be utterly wrong, right?
I’m not entirely convinced by TTH’s argument about lack of roleplay in MMOs though as I believe it just takes form in a different way from than in a single player games. In single player games, you are force to conform to a role yet in MMO you, the player and your personality and the way your talk and interact with others, are responsible for your own roleplay. You don’t need to do anything to roleplay other than to just log in and start doing it.
However, I can definitely certify that fewer and fewer MMORPGs are supplying roleplaying functions and facilities. World of Warcraft, the most popular MMORPG, doesn’t even give you the option to write your own character’s biography, something that I find pretty shocking. Plus, the story in almost every MMOs is pretty minimal and forget about doing anything to permanently influence NPCs or the outcome. At the end of the day, when we compare our MMOs to great single player games like Dragon Age, the RPG mechanics come across as lacking (to say the least).
So I can completely understand why TTH gave the RPG award to DA:O. It’s sad though and depresses me a little. I mean, why do we even bother using the term MMORPG anymore anyway?