The culture of MMORPGs
My curation of digital artefacts have finally led me up to this final blog where I will have completed my explanation of the culture of Mass Multiplayer Online Games or MMORPG in short as listed in dictionary.com. MMORPG is a way for people to escape into or explore a new world. The numerous classes giving different personalities and roles to people, together with the difficulty of advancement and grinding for materials makes it challenging and gives further incentive to play. Not to mention the memories we make with other players and guilds. This community we see in MMORPG makes it a whole new experience for bonds that will last a lifetime. I will put focus on three important aspects of MMORPGs: the economy, the events, and player identity.
One way to have an advantage in MMORPGs, is by becoming a P2W player. According to cyberdefinitions, P2W or PTW is used in gaming with the meaning “Pay to Win” to refer to games that allow players to buy items or abilities. For example weapons, armor, or skills that give players an advantage over others. Mind you, there are exceptions to this. Not every game gives an advantage to P2Ws. But if you look at this market, 90% of MMOs are P2W friendly. They give a lot of advantages to paying players which can make the games stressful to F2P players. According to Wikipedia, F2P refers to “Free to Play” and was first popularised in older MMOs. With P2W players keeping the MMOs alive, obviously games will focus more on their P2W players to stay running. Akin to having MMOs on life-support. On the other hand, this also drives away most players who don’t spend competitively.
Looking at the life of games, the P2W system seems a necessary part as it is the primary way how these games earn money. It’s no surprise they would model the game with the pay-to-win approach in order to keep running. This creates a controversial topic. Taking away skill, patience and dedication. Games will stop being games and start being businesses (Darakjian 2015). On the other hand, this system caters to people with money so this draws a clear line between F2P players and P2W players and may make the F2P feel excluded and not part of the community.
Twin Saga is an anime MMORPG published by Aeria Games and X-Legend Entertainment. The English version was introduced to the world back in 2016. We can buy exclusive items from the item shop that can give players a huge advantage in-game with the likes of: senshi(a spirit that aids players in battles as well as giving massive buffs), mounts(to move faster in-game), crystals that increases stat, costumes as well as other items. Do keep in mind that all of these bought items can be sold in the game’s auction house to other players for the game’s currency(gold). And the “free” ways of earning gold are by grinding dungeons with mobs that drop a lot of gold, or dungeons which drop rare materials to sell in the auction house to other players. So in this way, the community stays active with everyone helping each other become stronger.
Twin Saga and other MMORPGs engage their players to take part in their economy, showing that online games have the potential to be utilised as a learning tool (Wi 2005). There are also trade chats in-game for players. Divided into three communities(English, French and German). We also see this in the discord server as well as gamemasters coming from all three backgrounds to aid players. Although the main language of the game is English, other language communities are also prevalent in this game. It’s just that English is used for trading as most players understand it. The importance of language can be seen here with how it connects people. The differences in cultures is also another thing to connect people by learning about each other.
From my personal experience, I cannot imagine being able to play Twin Saga without making use of the system. In order to get the greatest advantage, I have to be able to play according to the rules of the game economy. The trade system of this game is very active with players investing a lot of their daily life in the game. Trading is the best way to get the resources we need. Everything is easier when everyone is working with each other instead of trying to play the game by ourselves. Even if we try to play the MMORPGs solo, we will need other people for trading. Otherwise, your progress will be much slower. The economy is important because it gives meaning to resources distribution in the game, it keeps the game afloat, and it makes it much easier for players to become stronger by encouraging trading.
Another way to earn materials is from events that are frequently hosted by gamemasters through the game’s official forum and discord. These events can both be in-game and off-game. In-game events are hide-and-seek, quizzes, world boss spawns, completing tasks for points.etc and off-game being participating in the forum events like high-scores in mini-games, art design competitions, poem contests, monthly quizzes, screenshot contests.etc… They offer players a chance to get special materials or take part in the astral puzzles. (The rewards of the puzzle refreshes frequently can depend on their drops, a player can get items that give them a lot of boost or items that go at a high price in trades.)
The guild I am in occasionally hosts some events similar to the official events but only for guild members which is smaller in scale but is a form of guild activity and getting closer to one another. This can also be said with official events, you participate in the events and your sense of belonging increases with the game and other players because of the increased interactiveness. Events held in-game is an obvious way to bolster the sense of identity of players and tighten the community.
There are also monthly events in games that provide us with different experiences every month. Not to mention seasonal events(New Year’s, Valentine’s, Mid-Autumn, Halloween, Christmas, Summer.etc) What we do not pay attention to is how offline events are also just as important if not more. With our busy lives, we may not be able to log in and grind everyday. But being a part of the community through the forums and the official discord channels, players are leaving an imprint of themselves in the community and subconsciously cementing the game deep inside their hearts.
Twin Saga(TS) has a mobile player housing system that takes some inspiration from the famous Japanese animation: Howl’s moving castle. In it, players can hang out with friends and open chests to unlock rare materials. They can also take part in other professions like cooking, farming, crafting and alchemy to get special gears or materials. This adds a new dimension into its gameplay. The bright and cute anime-inspired visuals of TS also manages to bring anime lovers into the game. Oftentimes, they prefer to play MMOs that resemble anime characters than just a normal MMORPG.
Guilds are always an important part of MMORPGs as they foster a familial relationship with other players. Seeing each other everyday and being a part of every step you take in the story and level. Being stronger together, helping each other and the guild grow. It is such a crucial part of an online game that is slowly being forgotten with the popularity of solo play and the ease of leveling by injecting cash. But having an in-game family is what makes MMORPGs in the first place. There is nothing better than having people you can count on by your side.
The most important thing about an MMO being engaging and touching the life of an individual is the community. Each individual player has their own name they are recognised in the game. They are recognised by other players from their interactions in the chats and events, the guild they are a part of, as well as the reputable achievement being a part of the leaderboards in different fields. It becomes a hook for a player to be part of the community as a whole and thus taking part in the game’s culture. (Kim 2000)
Amy Jo Kim (2000). Community building on the Web. Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press.
Darakjian, S. (2015). Online Gaming and the Pay-to-Win Problem: Legal Deterrence or Industry Self-Regulation. Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review, [online] 36, p.213. Available at: https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/laent36&div=15&id=&page=.
MMO Bomb. (2015). Twin Saga Review & Download. [online] Available at: https://www.mmobomb.com/review/twin-saga
MMOs.com. (2015). Twin Saga Game Review. [online] Available at: https://mmos.com/review/twin-saga
Mmo&Mmorpg. (n.d.). Review of Twin Saga – MMO & MMORPG Games. [online] Available at: http://www.mmommorpg.com/mmorpg/twin-saga/
Techopedia.com. (n.d.). What is Free To Play (F2P)? – Definition from Techopedia. [online] Available at: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/27039/free-to-play-f2p.
www.cyberdefinitions.com. (n.d.). P2W | What Does P2W Mean? [online]