Computer RPGs

         There are a variety of computer games which are terms "role-playing". I am by no means an expert, but there are a few broad categories:

Single-Player Games
Most computer video or adventure games have a token character which the player is controlling. However, a game is sometimes termed "role-playing" if the character can gain experience, items, and other improvements over multiple sessions. I think it is called this because historically the experience and item gaining are inspired by tabletop RPGs.
Text-based Multi-user Games (MUDs, MUSHs, MU*)
The term MUD originally stood for "Multiple User Dungeon". The name comes from influence by the tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons and the computer game Zork. However, it has now come to generally mean role-playing games with an interactive command-line text-based interface. You log into a MUD server, then type in commands like "Pick up coin" or "Say 'hello'" or "Attack lion". The server then registers your command and sends a response showing what happened. The key is that there may be dozens or hundreds of other players on at once, and you can talk to them in character and trade with, fight with, or otherwise interact with their characters. MUDs are frequently free, developed and maintained by volunteers.
Graphical Online Games or MMORPGs
MMORPG stands for "Massively Multipler Online RPG", and generally indicates a game similar to MUDs but with commercial graphics. These are generally commercial games such as Everquest and Diablo.

         The advantage of open multiplayer online games is that anyone in the world can come and game with you. On any moderately popular game, there could be dozens of people online to interact with. Players can log on and log off at their convenience, and always find other people to play with. However, there are also a number of limitations of computer RPGs which limit them compared to the role-playing in various face-to-face games. While they may not be inherent, a number of commonly cited differences include:

         Here are some links for more information on computer RPGs:

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Wed Apr 16 00:58:41 2003