|September 24th, 2009|
Massively asked a bunch of us in the industry our opinion of the term “MMO”, and the result is a rather nifty article. Here was my answer, but go read everyone else’s!
Raph Koster, President and Founder, Metaplace:
“I think now, at this point, now that we’ve chopped the ‘RPG’ part off of it and just say ‘MMO,’ which by itself is a meaningless acronym. Massively multiplayer online… The problem is the very word massive is not particularly useful. Sorry Massively website! But the problem is that “massive” is kind of relative. New York is a massive city, until you go to Shanghai. It’s completely relative. …
“I was never that crazy about [the term 'MMO']. We’ve been here before. There was a huge turf battle over the term ‘MUD’… There were people coming up with MUVE, multiple user virtual environment… random acronyms people were coming up with to describe the field. Several of us kept saying, ‘These are just virtual worlds, damnit!’ Part of the reason why that was working okay was it was fairly easy to say, and MUDs do have a very specific kind of family tree that we can point at, and they all fall under virtual worlds.
“That was great until people started calling things — without any games in them — ‘virtual worlds,’ excluding MMO-anythings. This is where you get people saying, ‘Well, [World of Warcraft] is a MMORPG, it’s not a virtual world.’ And it’s like…errrr. Because the battle has started all over again with people trying to appropriate the term ‘virtual world’ to mean Second Life or to mean Habbo Hotel. So now you have things like social virtual worlds and generic virtual worlds, and people think it means just Second Life, and that’s… wrong. I’ll say it bluntly, that’s just wrong, because WoW is a virtual world and so is Second Life, and so is YoVille. A lot of people don’t want to claim YoVille as being in the family, but it is. I much prefer to define these things by what they are rather than how many people they hold.
“I do still say MMO, because at this point it usually has the connotation of game. If you say ‘MMO’ people assume you mean a game. … Even us design types, we still need to know what we’re actually doing. The terms, right? We need to agree on a language so we can talk about it. Disclaiming something that is a massively multiplayer, comma, online, comma, first-person, comma, shooter, and saying, ‘Well, it’s not actually massively multiplayer online’… whatever. That’s clearly marketing talking.
“There are people that call them MWOs, people that called them MOGs, and people that call them POGs. There’s PSWs which is an art term for a specific sub-set of virtual world so that one gets misused all the time because it means ‘persistent state world.’ … There are some others… PIG, I’ve seen PIG, ‘persistent interactive game.’
Massively: I don’t think a game maker would like to call their game a “PIG.”