Terra Nova 2.0—The New World of MMORPGs
The dominant metaphor used to describe and situate MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role playing games (e.g. Ultima Online, EverQuest, World of Warcraft, Second Life, etc.), has been “new world” and “new frontier.” By deploying this powerful imagery, game developers, players, the popular media, and academic researchers draw explicit connections between the technology of MMORPGs and the European encounter with the Americas and the western expansion of the United States. Although providing a compelling and often recognizable explanation of the innovations and opportunities of this new technology, the use of this terminology comes with a considerable price, one that had been demonstrated and examined by scholars of the Internet, cyberspace, and virtual reality over a decade ago. This essay explores the impact and significance of the terms “new world” and “frontier” as they have been deployed to explain and describe MMORPGs.