One of the striking questions that always come in the minds of many scholars is whether MMORPGs are harmless for human health. This question has received attention from various quarters; with some scholars actually approving it (MMORPGs), while others strongly opposing it for being detrimental to human health.
A study conducted by Scott and Hodgetts (2006) discovered some substantial benefits the game has on human health and development. The two gentlemen found out that people who continuously played the game were better off in areas like surgical training, physical exercise, and community health participation. They claim that MMORPGs games are instrumental in creating environments where participants develop a sense of oneness and belonging. Such kind of arrangement is vital for creating a sense of community belonging, which allows members of a society to treat each other’s health as a duty of society. That is, each person becomes his/her brother’s keeper. Actually, the research seems to come to the conclusion that online gaming that is focused on social capital and collective understanding between the players’ results in good health (Wiecha et.al, 13). Wiecha and his fellows was a group of impeccable scholars who sought to conduct research on the effects of MMORPGs on social life of participants.
On the other hand, people who argue against MMORPGs games claim that these games are addictive. It is common knowledge that technological inventions create craving addiction of majority of the users. Researchers conducted by scholars such as Mitchell (2000) link MMORPGs games to addiction. Her work identifies two kinds of addiction that are detrimental to the health of participants. These are Internet Addiction Disorder and Pathological Internet. Mitchell identifies such disorders as psychomotor agitation, anxiety, voluntary or involuntary movements of the fingers as some of the disorders to which MMORPGs players are exposed. These disorders may have detrimental effects on the player’s health (Mitchell, 13).
MMORPGs games have been found to have very strong social ties with participants. This can be identified right from the formation of the game. For instance, MMORPGs have inbuilt devices that foster communication among participants. It is to be realized that communication is a powerful tool in the social environment. Studies conducted by various researchers have yielded different conclusions on the social aspect of the game.
A study conducted by Jakobsson and Taylor (2000) on the trends and effects of social networking through MMORPGS outlines the positive side of the game. They discovered that majority of the participants experience positive relationships due to their love for the game. Jakobsson and Taylor particularly reported that 40% of the players feel more comfortable with their online friends than their real life friends. The reason for this scenario was attributed to the communication styles used through MMORPGs. That is, game players felt more comfortable to communicate intimately with their online friends who would not manipulate their information in any way. This assurance was compounded by the fact that players undergo initial compatibility tests to determine compatibility levels among players. In many occasions, it becomes easier to communicate with somebody with who you share a lot in common. Therefore, players really enjoy virtual relationships available through MMORPGs (Jakobsson and Taylor). Jakobsson and Taylor were renowned professors of psychology who taught at various universities in the US and Canada.
From the review above, it becomes evident that people who overindulge in the game will definitely value virtual relationships more than real life friends. This situation is likely to be worsened by the dangers of addiction. Despite the positive contribution of the game to social life, it has also served to ruin it in one way or the other. Studies have found some correlation between the game and the violent tendencies in children, who fail to differentiate between fantasies and reality. Children who over indulge in these games tend to develop blurred vision between what is real and what is fantasy. The outcome of this is actualized through acts of violence. For instance, the Columbine massacre perpetrator was reported to have practiced a lot in MMORPGs games. This reveals the dark side of the game. However, despite the negative implication of the game, it is a fact that participants tend to develop strong and trusted online relationships, which greatly contributes to socialization (Krane, 35).
MMORPGs have become a lucrative business, and the ever increasing rate of addiction makes producing companies richer day by day. The real issue is that one has to pay for the modern MMORPGs (Gamespy). The earlier version of MUDs was actually played free of charge, but when the software companies realized how feasible MMORPGs could be, they started developing games which are now accessible for money.
There are several literatures that break down the cost of acquiring MMORPGs games. This cost is divided into two; that is, the initial cost of acquiring the game’s client software and regular monthly subscription that runs throughout the year. The monthly subscription is meant to maintain the account. These points how lucrative the business is since customers have to pay the subscription even if they do not operate the game throughout the month or the year. The monthly subscription is within the range of $9.99 -1499. The lower limit is for the older generation games like Ultima, while the upper limit is for the newer generations like the Star Wars Galaxies (Gamespy). It is important to note that different companies offer different cost package for its clients. For instance, Sony (2004) offer packages that enable customers to pay one higher premium rate and then they can access multiple games available in the company (Lynn, 12). Loreta Lynn is one of the resounding scholars and technologist from Kansas who has participated in the inception of many computer games. For instance, her research on “Honky Talk Girl” in 1960 sparked the direction for subsequent studies on MMORPGs.
The literature above not only illustrates the consumption pattern of the gaming population, but also how parents, for instance, have to fend the little money they have for their children who have an addiction for the game. As a matter of economic principle, money spent by the players to acquire and run the games is equivalent to the amount of money received by the producing companies. Although there are not many literatures that detail economic incomes of these companies from the sale of MMORPGs games, their lucrative face value tells it all. Companies like Sony have very high business turnover with worldwide network, this would not be possible if the gaming business was not paying.
With technological expansion continuing to increase, it is likely that an increasing proportion of the world’s population will soon find themselves playing MMORPGs games. Thus, taking into consideration the detrimental effects the MMORPGs games have on the players’ health and society on the whole, a high proportion of the population will soon succumb to the MMORPGs games syndrome. However, generally, the MMORPGs games have both positive and negative effects, which according to this study seems to balance.