Recently I took up playing the game World of Warcraft. There are many games like it and they are all referred to as a MMORPG or Massive Multi-Player On-Line Role Playing Game. But what does that mean? Well, typically it means a game that is simultaneously played by thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people at the exact same time. World of Warcraft has over 7 million players currently signed up. The game resides on your personal computer, in my case my PowerBook, and talks to servers around the world over the internet. Each player takes on a character role, similar to the character types in Lord of the Rings or any other fantasy story, and plays as that character attempting to accomplish missions and raise their skill levels.
Do you remember, Dungeons and Dragons? Well, World of Warcraft and their brethren are strongly related. The games is based upon virtual roles of the dice that the player never sees giving the impression of real-time play. The graphics are pretty good and the play very interesting at times, actually exciting.
It's a means of escape. I haven't really met anyone on-line that I can "quest" with yet, but eventuallly the games requires that you work with others to accomplish bigger and bigger quests; some including fights with dragons and other large unfriendly creatures. At the moment, I am fighting small unfriendly creatures that are pretty evenly matched with my skills. If I meet a creature with better skills than I and I upset that creature, or in some cases just cross its path, i can die very quickly. If I die nothing horrible happens, but I do become a spirit and have to cross the land looking for my body.
The concept is very interesting and 7 million people can't be too wrong, can they?