It is often claimed that playing video games is an anti social hobby. This label may be true for most videos games but I feel it does not apply to MMORPGs. Socializing with other players is one of the key aspects of any MMORPG worth its salt. Even more importantly, the kind of people you talk to in a game may be different than the kind you socialize with in real life. I’ve been playing MMOs for years and some of my fondness memories are my discussions with the type of people I would never of had the opportunity to talk with in real life. Take for example a newly wed German couple I met in Ultima Online or the Chinese woman I chatted with for an hour while I grinded (she wanted to use my PayPal account to sell gold, she couldn’t set one up in China…)
Developers have finally caught on to how important the socializing aspect is in these online games. For years features such as guilds, private messages, and in-game mail were included but recently new MMORPGs are springing up that place a greater emphasis on socialization. Below I shall discuss some that come to mind.
First up is Mabinogi. This is a new game, at least in North America published by Nexon. Mabinogi has all the classic features of a fantasy MMORPG, dungeons to explore, monsters to slay, etc. But Mabinogi is also a very accessible game. A player’s level is not the only thing that matters. Mabinogi has a built in music writing system that lets players create memorable music and start camp fires that people can sit around and sing their tunes.
Maple Story is one of the most successful free to play games. The casual nature of the game and the social aspects are the key to its success. Besides guilds and party quests (PQ), players in Maple Story can get married.
Oz World is a bit different than the the games mentioned above. MapleStory and Mabinogi are both full fledged MMORPGs while Oz World is a purely social experience. There is no fighting in Oz World, players just fish and talk. Oz World also lets players decorate their own houses.
MMORPGs let gamers talk with and learn from people all around the world. So the next time you see someone grinding away in the same cave as you, be sure to strike up a conversation. That way, the next time someone says you need to get out more, you can tell them about your conversation with an engineer from the Philippians.