Fantasy has been in our lives since the human being was able acknowledge its own existence, but modern fantasy is a whole different story. Few authors have left a fingerprint in what we now a days call fantasy as Tolkien has; Within the high fantasy subgenre he has unintentionally shaped our way to consume entertainment especially online games. You see evolution is a natural path for everything in life this applies to everything from animals all the way to games. The latter being faster in comparison. In 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien decided to show the world a universe named Eä most specifically a continent within the world Arda named Middle-earth. This world was so complex and creative that in 1974 Game Designer Gary Gygax decided to take grande influence from it. He then created Dungeons &Dragons(from here on D&D) according to the preface of the Player’s Handbook 5th Edition:
“They were tired of merely reading tales about worlds of magic, monsters, and adventure. They wanted to play in those worlds, rather than observe them.” – D&D 5E
From the Beginning D&D was a social game, in order to play a round at least two people were required: A Dungeon Master (DM) and a player, but once yo hit the three people mark the game changed in a significant way. Strategizing, supporting and communicating where a bigger deal in the game, the player no longer had all the answers and had to account for the whole team if something went wrong. Building a character in order to serve the party was more important than simply trying to build an all rounder was the ideal and truth is it make it more fun for everyone involved in the game. There is something about the social nature of the human being that games bring out.
D&D was just the first natural evolution for the high fantasy genre. Nothing says fast mutation as a on year span and that’s exactly what it took for D&D to migrate into the digital realm. A new game style was born. Multi-User Dungeon (from here on MUD ) this style was all centered around the mechanics of hack and slash and player versus player. They included functionalities such as online chat and of course they brought the most appealing feature of D&D the role-playing. MUDs where all about text-based actions. They contain the ability to truly disassociate from the real world and get involved into a new world build by imagination.
But technology evolves at a fast pace and MUD’s didn’t took long before they became graphic with first examples as early as 1991 with Neverwinter Nights thus creating a gaming style Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (from here on MMORPG). Fantasy games have been evolving at a fast pace but three elements have prevailed all this years: social interactions, role playing and a sense of adventure. In the years to come other MMORPG started to become the standard of what the genre should look like games such as World of Warcraft (2004) and Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011) set the bar.
Now a days the technology of the game is evolving once more and many technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR)are in the horizon and some might not succeed, but as long as the three core elements of an MMORPG prevail there will always be someone willing to play the game.