In Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing one reacts and acts on other player avatars in manner similar to that of face-to-face interaction. However, virtual-interaction is limited in the technology-embedded setting. This brings in the question of whether the virtual system can truly resemble the actual game in the real situation. This paper analysis MMORPG and compares it with the real situation based on the environment and its need for players cognitive ability.
The cognitive social phenomena that occur specifically to the context of the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing
The major difference between face-to-face and virtually based game is that face to face involve full interaction where information is processed normally by hearing or watching. This makes it easy for the players to read the opponent thoughts, or to calculate their moves. However, the situation is different in the virtual role playing games. Players in virtual environment experience cognitive overload. This is the energy needed to for information processing. There are a number of cognitive overload created in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing environment. They include multiple games interaction overloads, multiple social interactions overloads, and user interface overloads.
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The two main forms of overload in chess play are multiple social interaction overloads especially when the game involves more than two players and user interface overloads where the player in this case is presented with a lot of written information that act as the only guide to effective playing. This includes reading of the avatar status, hints, and graphical moves among others. This results to information cognitive computation overload. The player in this case has a lot of information to read and process before making a move. This does not happen in a face-to-face environment where the player can easily calculate the opponent moves naturally using eyes and ears to counter a move (Ang et al., 2007).
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing versus Face-to-Face Interaction Environment
In the past decades a number of virtual environments and computer games that host avatars have been developed. These worlds which are currently populated with avatars playing/gaming, socializing and acting have different resemblance with actual world with respect to how people interact daily. The Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing developers have centered graphical realism regarding how avatars interact with each other in the virtual world. However, the avatar-based interactions miss a number of elements of or vary from ordinary human interaction. According to Bennerstedt (2007) the virtually based games lacks some aspects of interaction identified in human face-to-face interaction. In virtually based interaction, mediated technology of communication replaces human interaction and thus virtual interaction makes communication a bit complex. For instance, in face-to-face interaction, visual communication takes place and thus the opponent can easily calculate the moves before they take place and arrange for a counter.
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However, this is very difficult in mediated environment; the system moves are more probable to find the player unaware. Moreover, a human player may be distracted by the real environment and take long before responding to the virtual player’s move. Being unaware of why another avatar is not replying to a question may exemplify the interaction between them. The use of chat tools is another design concern. This is because the implementation of word-by-word to obtain smoother changing activity has also been considered hard. Players in virtual environment may easily be beaten by players used in face-to-face environment due to their inability to calculate moves before they take place. Moreover, while one is used to the virtual play, one may easily predict the moves of the avatar due to mastering technique. This may be hard in a real environment since human mind can change judgment in similar situation at different times. Thus, the face to face environment may be different (Bennerstedt, 2007).
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Face-to-face interaction contains all those examples of two or extra participants in a situation coming together openly in upholding a single focus of visual and cognitive attention. Individuals may engage in a conversation such as formal, gaming or small talks discussion. In others’ presence, humans utilize particular performances to manage information provided to others in a face-to-face interaction. Therefore, human uses body language, facial expressions, clothing, and the environment in their surrounding among other things to give different information regarding every day’s life. On the other hand, the MMORPG avatar-interaction is achieved through emotes that include graphical and textual information regarding movement of an avatars, attitudes and feeling, add-on or in-built programs for speech and in-game chats. These interaction techniques enhance communication between avatars in a virtual gaming environment. This makes the two environments very different.
One of the major similarities is that both virtual and face to face games have the same rules and thus, a virtual player can easily manage to follow the rules of the game even in the face-to-face environment. However, another major difference between farce to face and virtual environment is that MMORPGs contains an open structure in which the ideas of losing or winning the game do not hold the actual meaning as the idea in the real world. In this regard, players in these virtual games are more considered as users and not players. This highly affects players in the real environment. Chess played in the real environment may contain rewards that make the players concentrate more into the game and thus lifting their cognitive ability (Siitonen, 2007).
The user interface guidelines that should apply to designing MMORPGs
User interface does not only refer to what users press to initiate a move to the avatar but it incorporate other aspects that include onscreen buttons, in-game, configuration screens, and opening menu. The basic user interface rule which should be observed in design includes keeping the game fast, descriptive and simple. To ensure an effective design; one must consider the design principles of human-computer interface. Some of these principles include recognizing diversity, shortcuts, ensuring consistency, creating informative feedback, ensuring prevention of error and simplifying error handling, and lowering short-term memory load.
Games are played by different users who include experts and novice players and thus, the designer must have the diverse users in mind while creating any computer game. Therefore, the game should accommodate all challenges that include helping novice and provision of good speed for experts. Shortcuts increase the interaction pace. Shortcuts can be applied to hide commands, for special keys and for macros. The design consistency is essential since they permit consistent action for situations that are similar, for identical phrases, and also consistency in fonts, capitalization, layout and color. Informative feedback should allow the system to respond for each action taken by the user, and inform the user where the activity is incomplete of has successfully been completed. The designer should create an interface that prevents errors from taking place. This can be done by giving selection menu rather than forms to be filled in, and ensuring that there are no numeric characters in alphabetical entry and vice versa among other measures. Similarly, the designer should also consider simplifying the techniques needed to resolve an error, and ensure that simple errors do not lead to program abortion.
The designer should also lower the short-term memory load to a level that human can accommodate. For instance, human can only store 7 minus or plus 2, information pieces in their short-term memory, thus the piece of information should not exceed that range. Screens should be used where the item the user requires is provided in visible options for the user to select. In addition pull-down icons and menus should be provided rather than blanks text-boxes for users to write. This will ensure the interface is user friendly and good enough to enhance the use of the game for all individuals including the first time novice. The designer should also consider using real icons and game rules as used in real environment for the game. This enhances the similarity between the two and thus, limiting the operation errors and utilization of help for those who have used the game previously. Other measures to be observed include minimizing the number of clicks in the game and ensuring a similar environment as the one in the real world that include accommodating extra players based on the level of the game (WPI, n.d.).
MMORGP has a number of similarities and differences with the actual environment. One of the major social cognitive requirements is need to process a huge amount of information at ago and thus resulting to cognitive overload. Other differences include difficulties in creating a well responsive communicative environment like the one provided in the face-to-face environment. Therefore, the two are not identical.
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