Reality vs. Fiction in online gaming

Just now, I came across a Wikipedia article MMORGS (massively multi-player online role-playing games) that really blew me away. 
[As usual, I'm amazed at how useful Wikipedia is.  Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that people contribute to and maintain anonymously and without being paid.]

Aside from the occasional shoot-em up game with my friend and sometimes unnervingly intense gamer Arman [*], I rarely play computer games.  It’s been quite a while since I played any computer games with any regularity.    The last computer-based RPG (role playing game) I played seriously must’ve been "Bard’s Tales" and "Ultima" (on Nintendo) in the late 1980s.  As far as online games go, I think I once tried out an early version of "Ultima Online" in the mid-1990s, but that was it.  So I’m not very with the trends in this area of computing, even though I work in the IT field. 

The article mentions that MMORGs are getting a lot of academic attention today, and I can see why.  It’s amazing how technology, engineering, sociology, psychology, economics and storytelling interact in these game systems.  The complexity of these systems, the subcultures they spawn, the way they interact with reality (and how reality interacts with them–there is at least one MMORG, Entropia, where players can convert money earned in their virtual world into US dollars–somebody even sold a virtual island from this game for $26,000)– and the sophistication of these games’ business models (these businesses which must cater to a wide variety of types of players and balance many conflicting needs) is really fascinating.

As one article put it, "MMORPGs have become enormously popular in the last 10
years with hundreds of thousands of gamers living out alternate lives
in fantasy worlds."

It’s almost enough to tempt me to get back into gaming. 

Luckily for me and my marriage, my current PC’s graphic card isn’t new enough for the latest MMORGs…

[*] He has 2 XBoxes synced up in his home.  We don headphones and mikes and play Tom Clancy’s "Rainbow 6" in separate rooms.  I play upstairs in front of
his huge TV, while he plays  in his cellar.  A unique setup, but the best detail is yet to come:  he plays while running on a treadmill!  It adds a lot of intensity to a shooting game when the voice in your ear is constantly out of breath.


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