December 11, 2008
| by Adam Dioria
With the actual world becoming more surreal with each passing day (jeez Louise…just go ahead and give Sarah Palin her reality TV deal already), why not try the next best thing: Escaping into a universe of endless adventure.
Massively-multiplayer online games – persistent cyberspace realms accessible anytime via the Internet, populated by millions of live players and capable of evolving whether you’re logged in or not – provide the perfect getaway. No longer solely confined to fantasy and sci-fi excursions, they’ve long since shrugged off the bonds of niche appeal, as well as the stigma of being for pizza-faced shut-ins alone. Quickly expanding to also encompass intuitive titles for women, children and other unexpected demographics, the field’s cultural memes have even been incorporated into mainstream hits such as popular TV shows like South Park and Law & Order: SVU.
It goes a considerable ways towards explaining why, troubling economy aside, the field is anticipated to top $13 billion in revenue by 2011 (according to market research firm DFC Intelligence). Although it can’t explain why certain gamers insist on playing many popular titles until they:
1. Keel over dead from exhaustion
2. Murder someone in real-life over in-game thefts or
3. Get the urge to spurn living, breathing significant others for virtual admirers’ affections.
But heck, what do we know? With the genre’s history stretching back all the way to 1978’s text-based Multi-User Dungeon (MUD)’s networked sword-and-sorcery escapades, and it only now achieving breakthrough mainstream awareness? Yeah, there’s probably a history book or twenty-dozen (or maybe just a few psychology volumes) waiting to be written there.
Tales of the weird and wild aside though, most enthusiasts are perfectly normal, everyday folk simply partaking of mankind’s favorite pastime – the need to socialize and interact with fellow sophisticates. So whether simply meeting new and interesting people, conquering the galaxy or just romancing saucy Night Elves is your bag, get ready to leave your meager 9-to-5 existence behind.
Hundreds of awesome alternatives (Runescape, Magic: The Gathering Online, Stargate Online Trading Card Game, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XI, etc.) notwithstanding, here are ten of our favorites that’ll let you do just that.
Click here to view our Must-Have Massively Multiplayer Online Games.