A Touch of Medieval: Narrative, Magic and Computer Technology in Massively Multiplayer Computer Role-Playing Games

Stern Eddo
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

The paper provides an in depth examination of the narrative structure of Massively Multiplayer Online Computer Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). The analysis is focused on the narrative complexities created by the relationships between computer technology, the medieval fantasy that is central to the genre, and the emergent nature of the online player society. The paper is divided into four major sections: the first examines the question of neomedievalism (as pronounced in the 1970's by Umberto Eco) and its relationship to technology and magic. The second section recounts the historical development of the MMORPG genre. The third section examines the narrative form unique to fantasy genre computer games that arises when the cogent narratives of the fantasy genre are mixed with the equally fantastic narratives of high tech computer culture. The fourth section examines a specifi c set of game "artifacts" that make the specific narrative diegesis of MMORPGs.


Supporting Communities in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games by Game Design

2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Communities get formed almost automatically in multiplayer games, but in some games they seem to be stronger and more active than in others. In order to find out why it is so, We study in this paper what kind of game design makes game community formation and maintenance easier in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG). Three MMORPGs are used as examples: Ultima Online, Anarchy Online and Toontown Online. The communication methods, game mechanics and environments of the three MMORPGs are compared and their effects on the game community are analyzed. Communities do not exist without communication. Game mechanics affects how important it is for the players to co-operate and compete with others and how useful it is to form different kinds of sub-communities, such as guilds. If the game supports player created content it typically strengthens the game community. The game environment provides settings for player-to-player interaction and can encourage collaboration and inspire the players to create their own stories around the sub-communities.