Multiplayer games, to many, are the way of the future. As yet, massively multiplayer online games haven't quite broken into the consciousness of the everyday Joe (at least in the West), though some are making a solid run.

But perhaps it is just around the corner? There are many who consider sites like Myspace or Facebook games. I'll buy into that; one creates a character and builds stats (Favorite books is actually "the most intelligent books I've ever read"), fights monsters (hello spam accounts) and collects "mad lewts" (the reward is collecting massive quantities of people to put in your "Friends" inventory).

That sites like these have members (players?) in the tens of millions bodes well and suggests that people are on the verge of plunging into virtual worlds in great numbers. Myspace and Facebook, along with Xbox Live and similar online services, are acclimatizing people to the reality of living in a virtual society. Can playing about in virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games with regularity be far off?

And that is why The Escapist takes on the massively multiplayer online games in this week's issue, "Raid!" Nova Barlow, our trusty Research Manager, jumps in to give us a snapshot of the MMOG space. Alan Au regales us with the exploits of "Fansy the Famous Bard" in EverQuest. Sean Sands shares the story of his last days in World of Warcraft in "The Good Ending." The finesse required to keep a raiding guild working like a well-oiled machine is the subject Melody Lutz's "The Angel in the Guild." Brian Easton's "World of Germcraft" shows how a plague in a virtual world became fodder for epidemiologic studies in the real world. Find these articles and more in The Escapist!

Cheers,

Julianne Greer

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