The First Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Was?
Answer: Meridian 59
Online games that allow for multiple players to interact across time and space have existed for a very, very, long time–as far back as the late 1970s, we find the birth of text-based role playing games linking players together via servers in the form of MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons).
It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, where we find the first computer game that displays the traits of what we now call MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). In 1995, Archetype Interactive released an early form of Meridian 59 (the official, commercial release occurred in 1996). The game, named after the 59th provincial colony in which the game play takes place, featured a massive 3D world, player guilds, guild halls, player voting, a political meta-game to draw players in, and frequent expansions to keep them interested. These features and more were adopted by later MMORPGs and set the tone for the genre.
Although first released in late 1995, the game had an astounding commercial run with servers online up until 2000, then back up again from 2002 until 2010. Even then, the game didn’t die–the publisher released the game as open source. Not only was the game open sourced, but the original technical developers Andrew and Chris Kirmse got back on board with the project to help maintain and direct it. So the next time you’re craving some old school video game action but you’d like some human interaction in the mix, you can look up Meridian 59 and party with your guild like it’s 1999.