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Are You a Gamer? by Deborah Tirico
Boy …  has playing a game changed. To think Trivial Pursuit used to amuse us in the 80’s as an interactive game. Today, computer gamers have a plethora of exciting and interactive venues to choose from and can interact online with people from around the world.  Creativity is practically limitless in portraying your character in many of the web 2.0 applications… you can be an orc or a princess … have weapons or servants … but one thing is for sure – this is so not your father’s video game.
       MMORPG  is the acronym for massive multiplayer online role-playing game, generally referred to as MMOs.  An MMO is a computer role-playing game in which a large number of players can interact with one another in a virtual world. Players assume the role of a fictional character (often in a fantasy world) based on fantasy themes like Dungeons and Dragons. Other popular themes include science fiction, sword and sorcery, or crime fiction. MMOs almost always allow players to communicate with one another and offer support for guilds or clans.  Players use teamwork to fight during game play and are often expected to carry out a specialized role (such as healing) as part of that team. There are a ton of these games, some free and many with monthly subscriptions - but none as popular as World of Warcraft which boasts 8 million players, with 4 million players in China alone.
        Some MMOs also expect players to roleplay their characters – that is, to speak and act in the way their character would act. MMOs generally have Game Moderators or Game Masters which may be paid employees or unpaid volunteers who attempt to supervise the world and/or the battle.
Mr T,  William Shatner and Ozzie Osbourne endorse WOW in Television commercials – do they actually play?
© Gemini Studio, Inc. 2009
The 10 Most Popular

1. World of Warcraft, released 2004 - 8.5 million subscribers, the biggest MMO in the world.
2. Habbo Hotel, released 2000 - 7.5 million users.
3. RuneScape, released 2001 - 5 million users.
4. Club Penguin, released 2006 - 4 million users.
5. Webkinz, released 2005 - 3.8 million users.
6. Gaia Online, released 2003 - 2 million users.
7. Guild Wars, released 2005 - 2 million users.
8. Puzzle Pirates, released 2003 - 1.5 million users.
9. Lineage I/II, released 1998 - 1 million subscribers.
10. Second Life, released 2003 - 500,000 users.
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The system architecture for most
MMOs is a client-server with software
that generates and runs the "world”
continuously on a server. Players
connect to the server online via the
client software.

Used in Research
        Since the interactions between
MMO players are real, even if the
environments are virtual, psychologists
and sociologists are able to use MMOs
as tools for academic research.
Richard Bartle classified MMO
players into four primary
psychological groups: achievers,
explorers, socializers and killers. With
over 200,000 test responses as of
2006, this is the largest ongoing survey
of MMO game players.
        In World of Warcraft, a temporary
programming glitch attracted the
attention of psychologists and
epidemiologists across North America,
when the "Corrupted Blood" disease of
a monster began to spread
unintentionally—and uncontrollably—
into the wider game world. The Center
for Disease Control used the incident
as a research model to chart both the
progression of a disease, and the
potential human response to large-scale
epidemic infection.

The Money
        MMOs are popular throughout the
world with revenues exceeding half a
billion dollars in 2005. In 2007 and
2008, the virtual goods buying and
trading has taken an amazing increase.
In 2008, Western consumer spending on
subscription MMOs grew to $1.4 billion.  Yikes!
        The cost of developing a competitive
commercial MMORPG title often exceeds $10
million. These projects require multiple
disciplines within game design including: 3D
modeling, 2D art, animation, user interfaces,
client/server engineering, database
architecture, and network infrastructure.

The Advertising
        There are advertising agencies that specialize in banner advertising for all types of online games.  A new
culture of advertising firms has been born with
opportunities called “Advergaming”. In-game advertising
can include products being embedded into games (product
placement), game delivery systems, banner advertising,
sponsorships and more. Corporations can actually
purchase a “presence” on games like Second Life and
hold virtual meetings there offering a unique method of
interactivity for attendees.
        Advertising revenues for these opportunities have
grown tremendously as a result of the loyalty of gamers
and number of hours they spend online … who knew?

Are you interested yet? It’s your move.