Answering Gaming Questions with AI – MMOs vs MMORPGs

Since we now have access to the power of AI generated answers, it seemed like a good time to throw some more test questions at them… deep questions… important questions… things that people argue about.  Video game questions!

AIs thinking about video game questions… drawn by an AI… but which one is which?

Also, if we keep the AIs focused on trivia maybe they will be less likely to go SkyNet on us.

So I thought I would start out with a bit of a softball for the first run.  The question is:

What is the difference between an MMO and an MMORPG?

This is somewhat of a test because I have strong opinions on what divides the two… and how a good portion of things that get called MMOs probably shouldn’t be unless we extend the term to mean just about every online game… so I am curious to see what they pull out of their collective databases.

I also took the first answer each provided.  You can hit refresh and get it to change somewhat, but I feel that an AI should be giving you the answer that it deems is the highest probability of being correct first, so letting it fish for revisions seems like a cheat.

Bing AI, as usual, threw in some links out to sources

The difference between an MMO and an MMORPG is that an MMO is a general term for any game that can be played online by a large number of players simultaneously, while an MMORPG is a specific genre of MMO that focuses on role-playing elements. ¹

An MMO stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online” game. It can be any type of game that allows thousands or millions of players to interact with each other on the same server or world. An MMO can have various gameplay styles, such as action, strategy, simulation, or puzzle. Some examples of MMOs are Fortnite, League of Legends, and Minecraft. ¹²

An MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”. It is a type of MMO that lets players create and customize their own characters and explore a persistent virtual world with other players. An MMORPG usually has a complex leveling and item system, a rich story and lore, and various quests and activities to do. Some examples of MMORPGs are World of Warcraft, EverQuest, and Final Fantasy XIV. ¹²

In summary, an MMO is a broad category of online games that can have different genres and themes, while an MMORPG is a specific genre of online games that emphasizes role-playing aspects. All MMORPGs are MMOs, but not all MMOs are MMORPGs. ¹

Source: Conversation with Bing, 4/14/2023
(1) What Is the Difference Between MMO & MMORPG? – Plarium
(2) What Are MMOs and MMORPGs? – How-To Geek
(3) What is the difference between an MMORPG and an MMO?

Bing AI included three footnotes at the bottom, but only used two of them in its actual answer.  A minor point, but it seemed odd.

I like the definition of an MMORPG.  It includes elements that I use in my own definition, particularly a persistent world shared with other players.  The leveling system, quests, and lore are mostly synonymous with the genre… even EVE Online has a pretty rich lore going for it at this point… and the examples give are pretty core to the genre.

I am not too keen on the MMO definition.  I like the “played online by a large number of players simultaneously” aspect, which I think captures a baseline and at least implies that they may not all be playing together in a way that they can interact.

But then it goes and spoils it all by saying something foolish like “allows thousands or millions of players to interact with each other on the same server or world” which isn’t necessarily true.  Even lobbies have limits.  And the examples… Fortnite fits, but League of Legends is the tiniest of shared locations, and Minecraft… well, Minecraft can be an MMO, and a modded server can even be an MMORPG like WynnCraft, or it can be co-op with a couple of people or solo or something else, so seems like an example with some built-in exceptions.

So, not horrible, though it slipped there trying to refine the answer, and its examples made me question its statements and comprehension of the topic, but at least it comes with source links.

Grade: C+

Bard, on the other hand, likes to get some bullet points into its answers

The terms MMO and MMORPG are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two. An MMO, or massively multiplayer online game, is any game that can be played by a large number of people at the same time. This can include games of all genres, such as shooters, strategy games, and role-playing games. An MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role-playing game, is a specific type of MMO that focuses on role-playing elements. This means that players create their own characters and take on the role of those characters in a virtual world.

Some of the key differences between MMOs and MMORPGs include:

  • Role-playing elements: MMORPGs typically have more role-playing elements than other types of MMOs. This means that players are more likely to be involved in character development, story-driven quests, and player-versus-player combat.
  • Character customization: MMORPGs typically offer more character customization options than other types of MMOs. This allows players to create characters that look and feel unique.
  • World size: MMORPGs typically have larger worlds than other types of MMOs. This allows players to explore more and find new things to do.
  • Community: MMORPGs typically have larger and more active communities than other types of MMOs. This is because the role-playing elements of MMORPGs encourage players to interact with each other more.

Ultimately, the difference between an MMO and an MMORPG comes down to the role-playing elements. If you’re looking for a game that focuses on character development, story-driven quests, and player-versus-player combat, then an MMORPG is the right choice for you. If you’re looking for a game that offers a more casual gaming experience, then an MMO may be a better option.

I am not sure if Bard would know what a subtle difference was if it painted itself red and yellow and danced on the table singing “Subtle differences are here again!”

I mean yes, the MMO thing being an online game that can be played by a large number of people at the same time fits the general usage of the term these days.  With that we can claim World of Tanks is an MMO, League of Legends is an MMO, and Diablo III is an MMO.  I can get behind that in a way.

And, honestly, I am on board with the idea that “role playing” is a core defining element of an acronym that includes the words “role playing” when it is spelled out.  I mean, duh!

Character customization… maybe.  Certainly at the character creation level, with all those sliders and hairstyles and such… but have you seen the cosmetic options in games like Fortnite or Team Fortress 2?

World size… that seems kosher.  If you are going to do something that is primarily match based, which is what a lot of things we call MMOs are, then this fits.  You need a constrained world for that, while an MMORPG needs a larger world to accommodate story and progression.

Community size though?  Have you seen how big League of Ledgends and Fortnite communities are?  Maybe they are not as deep into maybe lore aspects as maybe the WoW community is, but they are big.

And the fact that Bard left out the persistent shared world, which for me is an essential defining element, was disappointing.  Bard did avoid getting caught up in minutia by not citing examples… why get caught up in facts when we’re talking opinions… but that also exposes a bit of the weakness of its case.

Grade: D

And then there is ChatGPT, which tries to dazzle us with a bit of logic up front.

An MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game is a broad term that refers to any game that can support a large number of players interacting with each other simultaneously in a shared virtual world. MMOs can be of various genres, including role-playing games (RPGs), first-person shooters (FPS), or strategy games.

On the other hand, MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) is a specific subgenre of MMO that focuses on players assuming the roles of characters in a persistent virtual world, where they engage in various activities such as quests, combat, crafting, and socializing with other players. MMORPGs are typically characterized by a strong emphasis on character development, story-driven narratives, and a vast game world.

Therefore, all MMORPGs are MMOs, but not all MMOs are MMORPGs. The key difference lies in the fact that MMORPGs have a greater focus on role-playing and character progression within a persistent game world, while other MMOs may prioritize other gameplay mechanics, such as strategy or first-person combat.

ChatGPT establishes a relationship between the two terms, declaring MMORPGs to be a sub-genre of MMOs, throws out a light definition of MMOs, then zeroes in on MMORPGs as the meat of its response.

Assuming the roles of characters… nice that it found a way to say “role playing” without literally saying “role playing,” as it give the illusion of comprehension… and a persistent virtual world are spot on.  Activities and a focus on character development… that progression we so love… along with story driven narratives fit the genre as well.  I wouldn’t argue with any of that.

Then it loops back, following what what of my college professors described as the essential structure of any academic presentation… tell the audience what you are going to say, say it, tell the audience what you just said… reiterates the relationship between MMOs and MMORPGs, emphasizing the key elements of role playing, progression, and shared persistent world, while throwing in some possible MMO elements for contrast.

Simple, doesn’t get hung up on irrelevancies like Bard did (community size, that still bothers me), but I feel like its answer would have been stronger had it had taken a risk like Bing AI and provided examples. Still, key elements covered.

Grade: A-

Did these answer miss any key elements of an MMORPG?  I could go into some more details in my head, but I keep running into specific examples that do not necessarily work across the sub-genre, which spans, in my opinion, from EverQuest to WoW to A Tale in the Desert to EVE Online.  If I can’t fit something into all of those, any more beyond, then it probably isn’t a defining characteristic.

Addendum:  Just to add on to the topic, Josh Strife Hayes dropped a video on the topic of what an MMORPG really is.

He mostly doesn’t like the acronym MMORPG because the words do not communicate the essentials of the genre.  And I get it.  My bias in the genre is that persistent, shared worlds are part of the experience or it doesn’t count.  He even agrees with some of my thoughts.  But the magic of language is that it often communicates the unspoken, so I am not sure complete accuracy is required.

Still, I support his final conclusion.

9 thoughts on “Answering Gaming Questions with AI – MMOs vs MMORPGs

  1. Angry Onions

    So three conversational AIs look for three Internet averages on the answer to what is an elephant and agree that most of the times it is an animal, and the cleverest of them throws in how sometimes elephants are found in rooms. But none of them is even close to knowing or understanding what an elephant is, let alone judge whether something called an elephant in a room is actually an elephant.


  2. SynCaine

    Playing Wartales again, the 1.0 version, and its fully voiced. I can’t find confirmation online but it would not shock me if its done with AI. None of it is ‘bad’, but so far none of it stands out or sounds really different.

    I also listened to a few of the trending AI-created songs recently, where the AI mimics the voice of Drake and other popular artists. To me it does a good job, in that it sounds close, but something still sounds a little ‘off’ there as well.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Angry Onions – I am certainly not one of those people who thinks we’re seeing sentience or understanding of the topics. AI is an overblown term for algorithms… sophisticated and complex algorithms, but just algorithms… that parse a lot of data and return what it believes is the correct response.

    One of the reason I like the Bing AI is that it makes no bones about being anything beyond a search engine enhancement. You can even set its level of creativity.

    So this post, and a few others I have planned, are just to see how good they are at processing the data for topics that we have discussed many times to see if they can come up with a reasonable answer.

    Also, as an aside, I have no idea why puts your comments in the moderation queue. I currently have no terms or users set to filter, so WP just doesn’t seem to like you. (It didn’t like the late Brian Green either, for no explicable reason… more algorithms.)

    @SynCaine – You know that quote about the infinite monkeys at typewriters eventually producing Shakespeare? Well, now we’re automating the monkeys and cheating by letting them read Shakespeare up front to nudge them in the right direction. And it still falls flat 99% of the time.


  4. Bhagpuss

    Janelle Shane at AI Weirdness has had a couple of posts up recently where she gets AIs to create ascii art and then rate how well they’ve done it. The interesting part is that not only can none of them create anything remotely recognizeable as what they’ve been asked for but that they claim they’ve done a great job of doing it anyway. Even more interesting is that, when challenged on their performance, they all double-down on how brilliabnt at creating ascii art they are and insist they’re genuises at it.

    It’s a really great demonstration of how fundementally unreliable and untrustworthy any results the current batch of AIs produce can be. As quasi-search engines, I find them useful only when I already know the answer to the question I’m asking and want to save some time getting a summary of what I know. We are going to be in deep trouble if people start using these things widely instead of just googling stuff, especially if they feed the nonsense the AIs spout back into the same pool they’re drawing from.

    What I really like generative AI for is creativity, the exact thing creative artists say it can’t possibly do. Stories and images created by AIs can be fascinating – like transmissions from another civilization – and at least if you *ask* them to make something up you can’t complain afterwards that they’ve made it all up!


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Hah, I hadn’t thought about doing ASCII art. Still, I wondered how hard could it be? Are people being too picky? So I asked ChatGPT to do ASCII art of the USS Enterprise because there are about a million variations on the web right now. After the first try, I though maybe I had to clarify, “From Star Trek” in case there was some blob-like ship ALSO named the USS Enterprise. But no, a blob was what it meant to do.

    The USS Enterprise after being put through a trash compactor maybe

    I mean, that is some bad effort right there.

    On the useful side, I do like to plop things into these AIs for idea generation or to see if I am listing out something and have covered all the more obvious possibilities.


  6. Bret Bernhoft

    This is an interesting experiment, thank you for putting it together and sharing the results. I like that you included a grade for each AI’s response to your questions, that makes this post funner to read.


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