The Daily Grind: Is an MMO still an MMO if it lacks chat?

In the comments of Andrew’s last Soapbox on whether or not Pokemon Go properly constitutes an MMO, veteran MMORPG designer Raph Koster argued provocatively against our writer’s statement that an MMO without a communication system (text, symbolic, or gestural) is no MMO at all.

“I don’t think an in-game communication system is a requirement for an MMO, or a virtual world either,” Koster wrote. “Consider an MMO where no one has chat because The Silence has fallen across the world. But everything else you are used to is the same… you’d still call it an MMO, wouldn’t you?”

I’m not sure. I am sure that the very first thing we’d all do is pile into chat and voice channels and Kickstart a chat plugin, not unlike the way everyone piled into ICQ and IRC back in the ’90s when confronted with online games sans global chat. People complain endlessly about not being able to chat even with enemies in faction-based games like WoW. Communication seems pretty critical to me, more than any other feature, miles ahead of combat, trade, or graphical avatars. Maybe it’d still be an MMO, but a very broken, incomplete one.

What do you think? Is an MMO still an MMO if it lacks chat?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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87 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Is an MMO still an MMO if it lacks chat?"

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Johnny

How the hell is this even a question? Where in MMORPG is “CHAT”? Bree…. MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online.

As multiplayer means two or more players playing TOGETHER (eg; shared experience like pong), one can deduce that the word “Massively” beforehand simply means a massive amount of players (eg; hundreds at the very least) playing TOGETHER online. Persistence doesn’t matter, the type of game world doesn’t matter. All that matters is that a massive amount of people are sharing/playing a game experience TOGETHER at the same time. The world doesnt need chat. The world might be only up for 15 minutes. But if a massive amount of people experienced that game TOGETHER (not in separate instances), than its an MMO.

Before hitting post, I looked at some of Bree’s past articles and I fear she struggles with what MMO means. She seems to think 100 instances of 16 player games constitutes what MMO means. Im not trying to attack Bree, but this is an MMO site. Just some constructive criticism here.

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enamel

At this point I feel like getting rid of chat can only improve the MMO experience for me lol

Duane_Does_not_check_email
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Duane_Does_not_check_email

it’s not the same experience if you can’t have a 14 year old repeatedly messaging you to say that “you gots pned! you gots pned!”

Estranged
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Estranged

Yes.

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Rottenrotny

I feel like that online interaction within the chatbox is pretty integral to the MMORPG experience. Could probably get by without it, but players are used to it being there and would complain.

hurbster
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hurbster

I do not see how it can be.

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Dividion

M – Massively (a lot)
M – Multiplayer (more than one person interacting with each other)
O – Online (on the internet)

So, if it’s “a lot more than one person interacting with each other on the internet”, it’s an MMO.

Chat is unnecessary, but interaction between players needs to exist, or it doesn’t meet the “multiplayer” requirement.

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Kherova

No, chat is an integral part of an MMO.

capt_north
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capt_north

Is it massive, multiplayer, online, role-playing and a game? Then it’s an MMORPG.

I think it’s a design flaw in most cases not to include some form of chat, but I’ve seen the decision made with MMOs targeted at younger players, probably due to safety/liability concerns.

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Alex Malone

As long as 500+ people (or whatever number you consider to be massively bigger than standard multiplayer) can occupy the same game space and interact with one another then sure, it’s an MMO.

I’m not familiar enough with Pokemon Go to make that judgement call (though, from everything I’ve seen and read, it’s not an MMO) but the presence or absence of chat doesn’t affect it’s status as an MMO.