Player Housing in MMORPGs - Is it here yet?
Several emotions come to mind when it comes to owning a personal space in a MMORPG, including excitement, pride, and belonging. What better way for your character to become invested in the community than to put down roots with the purchase of a private home! Regardless of the game, most players enjoy the option to own property -- whether they take the opportunity or not. According to the website Massively, player housing has “had a long and interesting history ever since Ultima Online pioneered the idea.”
Paid members of the MMORPG Runescape are able to build houses from the ground up -- quite literally, along with furniture and other accessories by milling the lumber, et cetera. In a blog titled “kfsone’s pittance” the author states:
The Star Wars Galaxies housing system was incredible, but don’t give it too much credit: it was actually the SWG engine that made it possible to have such an impressive housing system. Users basically had a limited subset of the content creation tools, what made the SWG system so user-impressive was the content available, which was fundamentally stock game content.
All five games produced by Iron Realms offer characters some way to buy their own house, although the security on such places vary from one game to the next. Because all five MMORPGs are text-based, each player sets their own creative limits based on their own imagination and what they want for their character. Even if the house is just a single room, it could be anything from a causal cabana to a formal meeting space befitting a palace. Aside from a plot of land or a room to decorate, owning a home comes with other benefits as well.
Why is MMORPG Player Housing Important?
Sense of Belonging
Anyone can claim citizenship within a city, but homeowners are more likely to care about the laws of the city -- especially ones about real estate! It really gives players a sense of belonging when their character can invite friends and family into their personal home and show off their interior design talents. And players with large real estate investments are more likely to respect the laws of the city! In the popular Iron Realms game Achaea, the city of Cyrene places a wall on plots owned by city enemies, thus rendering the space unusable until the enemy has paid their fine and served out their sentence..
It’s not unusual for a member of guild, house, clan, or other organization to lend their personal property to the organizational membership. Unlike official buildings, it provides a more relaxed atmosphere. Members can meet there for either recreational purposes, or something more functionary like when interviewing potential members or hosting events with non-member allies or other groups. Imperian, another of the games produced by Iron Realms, is certainly no stranger to this. Clans are a good example of organizations within the MMORPG that use personal homes as organizational meeting spaces.
Player housing not only keeps the players coming back, but it also adds longevity to the MMORPG. I have a character in the Iron Realms game Lusternia that didn’t really work out. However, every so often I find myself logging in, just to check out my cool house! Unlike my real house it never needs dusting or vacuuming, the windows never need washed, and nobody’s complaining for me to pick my things up off the floor. I own property in other Iron Realms games also, and the best part is knowing that in most cases, nobody is able to enter without my expressed permission, and anything I leave in my virtual home will be there when I return -- unless it decays in my absense, of course!
Player housing is the lifeblood of social media games such as Second Life and IMVU, and keeps members logging back in as new and better upgrades for housing become available. However, World of Warcraft manages to survive without the benefit of lockable houses, for either players or guilds. Whether it creates frustration for management and developers, risks changing the format or lore of the game, or whatever other reason, it’s just not an option there. As for me, I’ll continue playing my favorite text games from Iron Realms, where I can enjoy all the benefits of player housing at my leisure.
Author: Sid Jennings
Editor: Tony Celentano