A Quest for the Legal Identity of Mmorpgs - from a Computer Game, Back to a Play Association
Journal of Game Industry & Culture, Vol. 10, Fall 2005
36 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2006
While the fact that MMORPGs (Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Games), played online by thousands of users simultaneously, are light-years away from single-user CRPGs (Computer Role-Playing Games) is well recognized, surprisingly however, they are lumped together with traditional, developer-centered computer games. This perception has much to do with the nature of terms of service imposed by MMORPG developers, the way these applications are developed and operated, related government regulations, rating standards used by the Korea Media Rating Board and also industry's and society's responses to the phenomenon of trading in-game properties for cash, which has recently become a subject of controversy. Putting MMORPGs in the same bag as traditional computer games is a curious misconception, since, as it is well-known, they are not finished products ready for consumption, but rather works in progress. Nor is the role of MMORPG players that of passive consumers. In fact, quite unlike with CRPGs, players are a crucial element of MMORPGs; gamers shape them, give them historical existence, and trade in-game items in the real-life environment. MMORPGs, in many ways, are reminiscent of TRPGs (Table-talk Role Playing Games), an older game genre predating CRPGs. It is as if, via a process of atavism, MMORPGs reincarnated TRPGs in all their essential features: the master of TRPGs brought back to life as the programmer, codes replace the rulebook, avatars instead of human players, servers instead of tables. What makes a MMORPG more closely affiliated to a TRPG than to a CRPG is in short that it is an associative body. To put it differently, they are less MMORPG than GRPMMO, less a game for play than a play association. To tackle knotty issues surrounding MMORPGs and find working solutions for them, one must start by asking the very basic question, 'What exactly is a MMORPG?'
Keywords: MMORPG, GRPMMO, lineage, game play, associative body, virtual governace, game item Ebaying / RMT (Real-Money Trading)
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By Ung-gi Yoon