This creates a drive to progress, and a huge sense of pride when you succeed - or righteous fury when you don't. While only one person can be at the top, nearly everyone is better at something than someone. Even players who aren't striving for the top spot on the ladder have something they're working toward, whether it is helping a friend, defeating a certain monster or exploring an untouched area after a new expansion. Why else would they play the game?

Back to my Lineage II character: I recently acquired a new set of armor, which cost three times as much as my old set, but gives me a decent boost to my stats and armor class. Yet, I didn't buy this armor for the extra armor. I just wanted it; to own it; to wear it and show it off.

I didn't create my character to sit in dungeons tapping F12 and F8, but doing so is a necessary step for me on a separate path. I have aspirations of participating in Castle Sieges, part of Lineage II's built-in political system, and I already do battle with personal and clan enemies.

While no one player can be the hero, every player has an effect on a community, more so than you could ever have on a single-player game. Every person who plays as Tidus or Cloud in the Final Fantasy series will meet the same people, make the same friendships and discover the same shocking secrets. Yet, in an MMOG, these restrictions are lifted: You never know who you will meet, who will be the love interest, the best friend, the traitor. You choose your own enemies and have no trouble hating them. And for each player, the world is enormously different and experienced in a wholly different way.

Laura Genender is a Staff Writer for MMORPG.com, and is also an Editor for Prima Strategy Guides.

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