Massively multiplayer games (MMOs for short) and virtual worlds are among the hottest forms of online gaming today.
Connect to them on the Internet, and you'll find that these universes not only let you adventure alongside or communicate in real-time with thousands of other live players. They also exist in permanence and evolve with each passing day, essentially functioning as living, breathing 2D or 3D worlds.
Many options are catered to adult tastes, but even more are available for kids, covering a variety of subjects from fantasy to sci-fi and superheroes. In all cases, it's important for grandparents and parents to know just what the experience entails.
Fun Facts About MMOs
Some MMOs can be purchased from your local software retailer. Others can be downloaded directly from manufacturers' websites, or accessed right from your Web browser. Many are free to play, and make money through the optional sale of in-game items, power-ups or add-ons, though some require a monthly subscription fee or one-time up-front charge. As a general rule, to play most, you'll need a credit card or prepaid card, high-speed Internet connection, and copy of the software program.
At odds with single-player experiences, in virtual worlds, you're never alone. While degree of direct interaction with other users varies, all massively multiplayer games make socialization a part of their core framework. (Supporting features may include chat, messaging, item exchanges, team play, group achievements and more.) Competitive player-vs.-player options are sometimes available to users. But more often than not, cooperative play is encouraged, with users required to join forces to accomplish tasks, defeat powerful 'boss' monsters, or achieve long-term goals.
In all cases, play varies each and every time you login. Ongoing updates may continuously expand the shape, size and scope of these universes as well.
Hints and Tips for Parents and Grandparents
- Parental controls are often available, letting you dictate whom children can interact with online, when and how.
- Free account sign-ups often let adults experience the action alongside kids - as always, getting to know the spaces they'll play, and type of exchanges which take place within them, is recommended.
- Virtual worlds are always changing and growing. Each time you log back in, you may find new quests, items, characters or areas to explore.
- Groups of players working towards common goals may be referred to as factions, corporations, guilds and more - joining one of these teams may enhance replay value and overall enjoyment.
- Game supervisors are always watching: Reach out if you have questions or wish to report concerns.
- Be aware that everyone playing these games is always in character - information shared online may not be true, and individuals may not be whom they say they are.
- Don't prefer combat? You might try crafting, trading or diplomacy: Many MMOs allow players to build and sell items, manage teams or act in other peaceful roles.
Great MMOs for Kids
Looking for some of the best MMOs for kids of all ages? Consider giving the following virtual worlds a try: