An Analysis of Open World PvP in LOTRO's PvMP as a Case Study for PvP Games
This article focuses on the analysis of emergent gameplay, based on a case study of the author's subjective gameplay experience of Player versus Monster Player (PvMP) in The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). The argument presented here is that although there is a core system of Player versus Player (PvP) which LOTRO shares with other online games, each type of online game has a specific kind of PvP system which attracts players to engage in the gameplay. For instance, the open world sandbox type of PvP attracts certain players to play in LOTRO's PvMP. One of the main aims of this study is thus to investigate some of the core systems of PvP gameplay in open world sandbox PvP. In this article, LOTRO is shown to offer unique opportunities for studying emergent gameplay in open world games, with particular relevance to PvP studies. Two of the core systems of PvP discussed include the design of the simple gameplay rules to support emergent gameplay, and the community's attitudes towards player's behaviours. The types of emergent gameplay discussed include free play versus negotiated fair play, the players' utilisation of strategies in open world PvP to support collaborative and competitive gameplay, and the changing dynamics of open ended gameplay. It is hoped that the analysis provided in this article would form the basis of future work on a more general framework for understanding PvP in other online games.
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