Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games or MMORPGs are taking the gaming world by storm. For years these games have shown growing popularity among the masses. Part of the appeal is the interaction between human characters and a live opponent versus tired and often predictable artificial intelligence or AI of games in the past. Another contribution to the appeal factor is the fact that friends can play together from homes across the street or across the world in a cooperative mission or as opponents in a test of strength or a battle of wills.
There are MMORPGs for nearly every genre and taste. From Sci-fi and futuristic game play of games such as Star Wars Galaxies and Unreal Tournament to the ancient realm of Everquest. There is something to offer everyone and often at a hefty price tag. Not only the financial price tag but of the time invested as these games are often quite addictive.
There are also a few free to play MMORPGs. These are not the MUDs of our childhood. In some ways I’m sad to see the text based games that relied heavily on the players use of imagination in order to bring the characters to life go. On the other hand, it is really neat to witness how far technology has come in the last few years. From the days of reading one line of text at a time to the dawn of new technologies and actually seeing the characters take shape is an amazing transformation. The completely free to play MMORPGs for the most part will take some serious online searching. There is one free to play game (you must first purchase the software but there is no monthly fee) that is mass marketed, the only one that I’m aware of at this point in time, called Guild Wars. I have played this and enjoy it quite a bit. I really enjoy the fact that once you buy the software there is no monthly fee in order to continue playing. This allows me to take frequent breaks, clear my head and not feel like I’m throwing money away.
I do recommend a few guide lines if you are considering playing a MMORPG. First of all, and to me the most important, set time limits on your daily, weekly, and monthly playtime. Make sure you don’t get so sucked into the game that you neglect your family and other important responsibilities. The same holds true for your children. Don’t let them get too caught up in these games. They are just that, games.
Second, set a budget. It would be really easy to want to try each and every one of these games for a certain amount of time to see which one you like the most or have playing options. That can be a very costly option. What I recommend is setting a certain budget amount. If you want to try a new game that is great, but if the new game puts you over your monthly budget, then you need to drop one game membership. You can also prepay before the beginning of each month for many games. This means that rather than having an automatically drafted payment come out of your checking account, it is up to you each month to put the money into your playtime. This saves on accidentally bounced checks and leaves you the option of not paying for months that you aren’t going to be playing. It is by far my personal favorite. There are always times that family commitments get in the way of playtime or that we are simply busy at work and don’t have time for outside recreation. Parents can use this as a way to discipline their older children as well (I don’t really recommend MMORPGs for younger children).
My third and final piece of advice regarding these incredibly fun games is to remember that it is just that, a game. These games are meant as a method for having fun. You can use them as a bonding experience in your household and among your friends (we have had a houseful of people get together to play these games before, it’s awesome fun) or even with you and your spouse and/or children (although not all children will find it cool that you want to play with them, they will usually capitulate if you remind them that at least they are getting to play this way and you have the luxury of knowing who they are talking to online).
Whatever game you find appealing, there is something suitable for almost everyone. I hope you will take the time to check these games out and see what appeals to your interests. Maybe you’ll find the one that is absolutely perfect for you. Good luck and happy gaming!