What We Can Learn From Massively Multiplayer Online Games

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As the name suggests, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) are games that are capable to support a massive number of players simultaneously. Obviously, this happens over the internet as players login and enter a shared ‘universe’ that forms the gaming environment. What differentiates MMOGs from the rest of the games is their ability to support a huge number of players, often from different parts of the world onto a common single platform.

An interesting thing about MMOGs is their social nature. Popular games like The Lord of the Rings Online, The Secret World, Star Trek Online and World of Warcraftare basically online platforms for social interaction, entertainment and learning. Learning? Yes, you read it right.

What We Can Learn From Massively Multiplayer Online Games

An MMOG has an environment which is life-like and detailed. Players can walk around, do normal things like human beings do; they are much more complex than usual games because of the complex detailing of what all players can do. These games give players the opportunity to enter this ‘world’ anytime they login and connect, form teams and play with thousands of other players who are online at that given instant. Players ‘learn’ to master the rules and dynamics of the game by observing, interacting (the games also have real-time chat options) and experiencing.

MMOGs have the power to stimulate learning in interesting ways. Recently, NASA Learning Technologies (LT) project took its game Moonbase Alpha live so players can set on a hypothetical lunar outpost in a 3-D immersive setting. Players step into the role of an exploration crewmember and deal with realistic mission challenges and choices. Though NASA LT intends to set timelines in the much anticipated Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO in the exciting future (2035+), single or multi-player users can already explore NASA’s near-future moon. The ideology behind this game isn’t just entertainment. Rather it has a deeper purpose of delivering NASA content through innovative applications of technologies to enhance education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Massive multiplayer online gaming in virtual environments is gaining recognition for its potential to provide hands-on training and exposure to technical and complex work roles by stimulating players to develop the exact thinking, learning, planning and strategizing skills necessary to perform their work roles well before they actually hit the floor.

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