To some people, the term "role-playing" conjures up images of guys with tinfoil swords and shields shouting "Lighting bolt!"
. Role-playing in MMOs
gets a similarly polarised reception, suggesting scenes of people playing pretend and speaking to each other in Shakespearean tone. To those of us that grew up with pen-and-paper role-playing games and single-player RPGs, it might mean the opportunity to play fantastic characters like wizards and rogues. At its core, however, role-playing is something far more subtle and fundamental than we sometimes give it credit for and it underpins the entire MMO genre. In playing an MMO, we are inherently playing roles that the game's developers have created for us. But do most MMO developers really know how to create engaging gameplay for us or are they failing to immerse us in their own chosen roles?
In this probative opinion piece, I delve into the roles we play in MMOs and the things developers often do wrong when designing an immersive game experience.