The Ancient Gaming Noob wrote a fascinating article about why sci-fi MMOs haven't flourished. It's certainly not a new topic, but the Noob backs his argument up with credible facts and a strict analytical comparison (as opposed to the boisterous blatherings of the typical forum troll) that prove his point.
In Is there hope for a science fiction MMORGP?, the Noob posits that fantasy MMORPGs came about (and became more popular) due to a series of environmental factors that were present for the fantasy genre, but not for sci-fi. He compares four major factors: literature, table top RPGs, computer RPGs, and MUDs (aka Multi-User Dungeons). The body of historical fantasy literature provides the major ground work for the other three categories. While "The Lord of the Rings" might pop into your head first, Tolkien's great novels were not the beginning of the fantasy genre. As illustrated by the Noob, much older works such as Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe," and Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur" existed. But the trump card? The 11th century Beowulf is the oldest surviving epic poem written in the English language. It's a fantasy story. The entire fantasy genre has been ingrained into our collective human psyche for centuries.
And what does science fiction have? Uh, not much. At least not compared to those legendary scripts. Granted there are some "old" science fiction tales, but the genre as we know it today didn't exist until the early part of the 20th century. I don't mean to knock the likes of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, or Kevin J. Anderson, but in a historical context the space traveling genre is the new kid on the block. And as the Noob so eloquently points out, some of Asimov's own underlying scientific theories haven't held up so well over the years.
Take a gander at Noob's article then come back here and let us know what you think. Are you a fantasy fanatic? Or do you yearn for a great sci-fi game that will even the decidedly lopsided MMO table back in the favor of ray guns and aliens?