[Note: This is a rant. This is my blog and a I feel entitled to one on it every-so-often.]
An MMO, firstly, is an incomplete acronym (and one could argue fairly a perturbation).
It is a contraction MMOG (Which stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Game). As an acronym is already the most compacted form of a contraction, reducing MMOG to MMO is both redundant and harmful towards being clear about what we mean. MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) simply does not make sense as a descriptor without a target for what it is describing. And, it is a term I feel we should stop using.
So, why do you see it used so many places instead of MMOG or MMORPG?
It seems vague. And, that is exactly why it is used. In order to allow things that would normally not fit into the MMORPG genre to ‘join in the reindeer games’. MMOG was by itself a way to do this as more and more games that were not MMORPG’s – But, launched from the same principle of being played online with other people - were being created. This allows types of online games such as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) to be lumped in with MMORPG’s in their categorization.
But, you may still be wondering why the G is commonly dropped from MMOG.
Because, MMOG is not vague enough (apparently). While MMOG allows something like a battle arena we play with each other online or a real time strategy game of the same level of interactivity into the fold. It does not allow for things we can do virtually online in a persistent environment that are not necessarily games. This would be your social MMO or Building and Exploration Platform or 3D chats.
So, this is where we come to the meat of the confusion and the contention I take with this…
In order to be ‘fair’ we have allowed our genre’s very definition to be chopped away at. So that, almost anything that can be participated in online with other people, is an MMO.
And, I for one have to ask…When will face book be added to the games list? I mean it is massive, it is persistent (In fact it is constantly in your face all over the internet and especially in your face if you have a smart phone). It is multi user as well. It’s content rich, And there is something competitive or game like about it.
[Note: I am being sarcastic.]
In my opinion we would be better off if we take a few steps back. Have a good look at what we got up. And, trim down the game list to only include things that truly merit being there. It is one thing to make a new acronym like MMOARPG (the ‘A’ emphasizing ‘Action’) to reflect that a game is an MMORPG that is largely based in combat. Adding one or two letters, if nothing else makes it more descriptive. It is another thing entirely, to butcher our own terminology so much that we might as well change the site address to anything-goes.com
[Note: That domain name is available…And yes, again you may again infer sarcasm.]
This not only does a disservice to our sanity, by proliferating misnomers and poor description in discussions - that leads to confusions and arguments - But, it buries real MMORPG’s that may never get noticed under a pile of games that have mistakenly found a fit.
Seriously... a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and just because a site calls itself an MMO (which should be a tip off, that even its developers don’t know what to classify it as or are hoping to ride the buzzword train) that doesn’t mean we should. If we continue to allow the bar to be lowered, then nothing we have to say about the realm of gaming this site is supposed to deal with is credible.