MMORPGs as a Social Exercise?

In today’s get up and go-go world there are a lot of people turning to the digital medium in order to fulfill certain parts of their lives. For example email and social networks have completely made writing an actual paper mail obsolete. I mean, who seriously does that these days? I think my gramgram (grandma)¬†does, but that’s beside the point. In this world, right now, there are people who turn to digital pleasures because they don’t have time for the “real” version of such. Does this hold some truth for MMORPGs as well?

The MMORPG is no stranger to criticism, and it’s certainly no stranger to publicity. Beginning back in the Everquest era, MMORPGs began gaining media attention as wasteful timesinks for children who were, in turn, neglecting their homework, and, more importantly, their daily exercise. When a child was sitting at the computer for hours upon hours at a computer how much exercise were they actually getting? Well, aside from rapid finger movements while typing the answer is el zilcho, nada, none.

Now fast forward to the present day, a time when World of Warcraft has subscription numbers in the millions and there are about 40 other well established MMORPGs to choose from. Does the truth of yesteryears still hold today? Well yes and no. We still have the same children who are essentially spending hours upon hours in these virtual worlds wasting away their youth. It can actually be a bit depressing when you see somebody like that; however, due to the popularity of such titles like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online we are beginning to see a new type of player. Somebody who maybe just wants to play as a sort of social exercise. Housewives, fathers, business types of all ages/races/sexes and grandparents are now venturing into the online worlds to meet some of that social desire that we as human beings require. Instead of actually going out to a bar at night, instead they log onto World of Warcraft or Second Life to get that same feeling of belonging.

Naturally, this isn’t as widespread as I probably made it seem in my last paragraph, but that’s not to say it’s not happening more and more often. A lot of people seem to think that MMORPGs have a height limit, that only a certain amount of the population will find an interest in them. However, I disagree. As the average American and European gets busier and busier with their work there will probably be a sharp increase in MMORPG subscriptions. Sometimes you are just too tired to head out to your local bar y’know? I am guilty of doing this on more than a few occasions.

Thoughts, comments, random words of wisdom? You know where to leave em. :)


  1. I’ve often thought that the game was just something to do while chatting with other people, and perhaps as a way to meet them. This probably differs between games, but in the one I played most (Asheron’s Call) you often spent long periods of time in the same area, and generally weren’t so hard pressed that you couldn’t easily chat. (The exception being mages, which required more interaction to play.)

    Another aspect to this is that when you stop playing a particular game, you can easily lose contact with the people you’ve met. Being able to access external chat systems from the games would be cool. Then if one of your friends moves to a different game, you could still chat while playing.

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