ESO poster featuring three characters from the trailer. Image found here.
Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is the latest game in the Elder Scroll series. This MMORPG has been long anticipated by many Elder Scroll fans. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you can see why it would be loved for its lore, detail, and beauty.
In the book Introduction to Media Literacy, there is are sections in Chapter 7 about electronic games, where MMORPGs are specifically mentioned. Unlike some textbooks that obviously have a bias against video games, this book describes video games spot on.
One example is that they say gamers create the story based on how they play the game. This is more true for some game genres than others. In RPGs and MMORPGs, these games are specifically designed for you to not only put your own twist on the story, but to create the character you play as. The book is also correct in that these games give players a “sense of power and a sense of wonderment.” These features particularly appeal to some players, myself included. I play almost exclusively RPG game for these features.
Not only can you customize the character you play as and change the story in RPGs and MMORPGs, but you can also choose what the objective of the game is. The game supplies you with a world, NPCs, quests, and a main storyline or two. Given this, you choose what you want to do. If you want the objective to be competition, then you find people to fight and level your character to maximum effectiveness. You can also roleplay, which is where the game is just a tool for you to pretend you are your character. Or create a character to be you and you play the game as you. You can also focus on exploration, finding all the secret locations, easter eggs, and hidden quests.
For MMORPGs, flow and telescoping are key characteristics. In the example of ESO, the world and lore is designed to be immersive. That means it is so detailed and interesting that you are completely immersed for a time. This results in most players enjoying a deep and exciting flow. Telescoping is very important to play MMORPGs well. You can’t be isolated in the moment of the current task. You must complete you current task with the future in mind. If you don’t, the game will make sure you regret it.
In short, this section of Introduction to Media Literacy is the first academic text I’ve seen that accurately describes aspects of video games. The book isn’t for or against video games, but instead is uneditorial in its terms, observations, and descriptions.