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What is an MMORPG? The online video game genre explained

There’s a whole bunch of video game genres, from first-person shooters to 3D platformers and many, many more. But, one popular genre that has invited players to become hugely invested in its games over the last few decades is the MMORPG. Here’s exactly what it is.

Whether you’re browsing tech products or video games, you often find yourself hit with a lot of acronyms, and we’re here to clear that up for you. This mouthful of a six-letter acronym represents one of the largest video game genres around and includes titles across many themes, locales and art styles.

So, just what is an MMORPG? This is our straightforward lowdown on the video game genre, giving you the basics so you never pause and make a ponderous look when it pops up online or in conversations with friends. Let’s dive in.

What is an MMORPG?

MMORPG stands for massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and it is a sub-genre of role-playing games (RPG). A massively multiplayer online role-playing game expands on the RPG genre by placing a focus on interacting with many other players online within a shared game world.

MMORPGs take place in a persistent world, often a fantasy setting, where aspects of the world can change while a player isn’t playing, impacted by the actions of other players or the overarching story within the game world. Players typically interact with each other through cooperation or competitively.

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Like with traditional role-playing games, players often create a character to play as within the game world. In MMORPGs, players can see other players’ characters. When playing cooperatively, players may go on a quest together to achieve a shared goal or, simply, trade belongings. By contrast, competitive play can involve competing for a prize or acquiring the belongings of the other player. There are many other ways players can interact across the numerous MMORPG titles.

Along with trading, some MMORPGs also have an in-game economy that involves a virtual currency, enabling the buying and selling of items. Some titles will allow you to use real money to purchase virtual currency too.

Popular MMORPGs over the years include World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 and many more.

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