Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Games and Gaming #36: The Wide World of Online Role Playing Games

Now that we've had an introduction on online games, we'll discuss Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPGs. MMORPGs are computer games that involve large number of players interacting in a virtual world. As with other role playing games or RPGs (you've probably heard of Dungeons and Dragons, which is a good example of an RPG), players take on the role of a fictional character and control that character's actions in the game.

MMORPGs are distinguished from other computer games by the large number of players and the persistent world of the game, which continues to exist even when a player is logged out. Most MMORPGs are set in a fantasy world and contain common themes, some type of progression (developing a character and gaining experience and treasure), involve player interaction, and usually have some kind of in-game culture. Social interaction within the game is common, but usually is not required unless you need assistance from another player.

Let's look at just a few examples of the MMORPGs that are out there:


Simpler to learn and play than World of Warcraft, Runescape does not require software purchase or a subscription fee. A good portion of the game is free and it can be played entirely online. Like WoW, the game is set in a fantasy world where players create a character and can interact with other players. With Runescape, however, players can decide what is important to them in play. They can complete quests, participate in combat, build craftsman skills, trade goods, or simply explore the landscape.

Players can choose to purchase a membership to Runescape that allows wider access to the world, but it is not required.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, or WoW, is the largest pay-to-play MMORPG at 10 million subscribers. The current edition is the fourth installment in Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft series, and takes place in a world called Azeroth after the events of Warcraft III. In WoW, you create a character avatar and work to gain experience by completing quests throughout the virtual world. When creating a character, you can choose from ten different "races" in two factions, the Horde or the Alliance. The character's race determines your abilities, appearance and starting location within the game. In addition to completing quests, you can join a guild to explore dungeons and fight in battles that allow you to gain more experience and acquire better items. You can also acquire special abilities and helper pets. Player interaction is mainly done by text-based chat, but there is also an option for voice chat that some players use. The rich storylines and complex landscape of World of Warcraft are what keep players coming back.

To play WoW, you must purchase software to install on your computer, and you must pay a monthly subscription fee, which is why we won't be visiting WoW in our exercises.

Chore Wars

Unmotivated at work or with your household chores? Chore Wars may be able to help! Chore Wars combines the drudgery of housework with an online role playing game that allows you to gain experience points or XP for chores you complete. Just like with other online RPGs you create a character, but you also create "adventures" for yourself such as doing the laundry, paying bills, or sweeping the kitchen floor. You can assign a specific amount of XP to each chore and then claim XP for that chore when you complete it. In game, you can also fight monsters for additional XP and treasure. You can turn your household chores or work tasks as a competition with members of your household or coworkers.

Chore Wars is entirely web-based and free to use.

Second Life

While technically not an MMORPG, Linden Lab's Second Life is still worth mentioning as it is a large-scale environment where people from all over the world can interact and explore a virtual landscape. You create an avatar, just like in a MMORPG, only you do not complete quests, fight monsters, or gain experience. The main purpose of Second Life is a higher level of social interaction. Users of Second Life are known as "Residents," and users interact through local chat and global instant messaging. Residents mainly get around by walking, though they can even fly!

The most notable thing about Second Life is its connection with the real world. The virtual world has its own economy and a currency known the "Linden." Residents of Second Life can buy and sell goods and services, own virtual "land," or even run an in-world business. Second Life also consists mostly of user generated content, which is created by Residents. Residents own the rights to content they create, much like copyright. Artists can create works of art in Second Life, and live music performances have taken place in the world. Recently, Second Life has started to offer virtual classrooms for several major universities, and many educators have taken advantage of this opportunity. Libraries are not immune to the Second Life bug. A virtual reference desk staffed by volunteer librarians exists in-world, and library users can visit many libaries on the Info Islands (a zone in Second Life).


1) Spend 15 minutes (not including the time it takes to set up an account) exploring Runescape by going through the tutorial. Did you find it easy to learn how to get around?

2) Write a blog post describing the Runescape character you created. Alternatively, if you are already a gamer and play an MMORPG, describe the character you play with and relate a fun experience you had playing the game.

Take and post a screenshot of your Runescape character, or the character you play in another MMORPG.

This post was brought to you by Michele McKian and Abigail Buchold.


Anonymous said...

My character was a rustic looking woman, though it was fun having a little virtual dress up doll to represent me. I am not that accustom to working with MMORPGs so getting my character to get moving began slowly but once I got more oriented with the tools and options I began to be able to shift my focus to the actual interactions and skills my character need to learn. I can see how this could be beneficial to develop helpful skills in our daily life. You have to be attentive to your virtual surroundings and you have to set your priorities or you do not survive well in the needs of your character.

Kiara said...

Thanks for posting some MMORPGs. More often than not, I play Download Games that is why I am so familiar with Multiplayer online games. I hope to play even one of the games you mentioned. Thanks!