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30 Days: The Awakening

July 1st, 2009 by

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If ever there was a hulking beast in videogames, a genre of title that is, for all intents and purposes, impenetrable to the average person, surely it must be the MMO. Just for a second, take the time to say that abbreviation out loud and in it’s entirety. “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game”. Its a phrase that, in itself, demands a knowledge of videogames beyond most of the casual audience’s grasp, after all, to Joe Public what is a role playing game? Why is something defined as “Massively” multiplayer, as opposed to just, “Multiplayer”? Being a console gamer all of my life and rarely having had a PC that can run the latest version of Microsoft Office let alone anything else, the chance to dip into an MMO has never been viable for me. Until now. It’s with great trepidation then that this month I’ll be playing one for the very first time, and seeing what all of the fuss is about…

But why play one at all? Well MMOs represent a huge chunk of the gaming populations activities, especially in the realms of online gaming and social networking. They also happen to be big business, with well over 11 million monthly subscribers to World Of Warcraft alone. When you factor in that subscriptions are roughly £8 a month, you can see why there are so many companies out there trying to get in on the action. Western design choice has traditionally been based on this kind of subscription service, players pay an up front fee for a certain amount of game time, as opposed to the East, especially Korea, which has embraced the free-to-play model, focusing instead on micro-transactions to fund the game’s persistent world.

Where there is money to be made, there is choice, and the range of titles out there is astronomical, each one with it’s own pay structure, target demographic, style of gameplay, and its own unique world with a community individually gathered around it. Its a daunting task in itself just deciding what to play! Fantasy or Sci-fi? PVP or NPC only combat? Do I play on a casual or role playing server? The method of the game’s delivery itself is entirely up for debate, shall I play a well established retail title, or a newer, more independent downloadable game?

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But how much are these decisions really going to affect the type of game I actually get? To be perfectly honest I think I’m pretty jaded before going into any of these MMOs in the first place. What I want as I quest across whichever virtual world I choose is the kind of experience I would have if I was playing online with friends on a title other than an RPG, a not too serious, almost casual game, and not a life choice for those that can’t face RL…

So here is where the MLG community can help out. I want to overcome this stereotype and my pre-conceived notions of the genre, so over the coming 30 days I’m going to play my first MMO and report back each week the findings, experiences and stories of a true noob. Trouble is, I have no experience in this field whatsoever, so Midlife Gamers, how should I start, what do I need to keep in mind when playing, and whats the best way to approach these games? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you all next week, in part 2.

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