RUNESCAPE

A Massive Multiplayer Online Game

Description

Runescape is a popular MMORPG, or massive multiplayer online role playing game.  It appeals to audiences ages 10 and up.  Runescape posseses the features to qualify it as both a virtual world (shared space, graphical interface, immediacy, persistence, and interactivity) and an MMO (large numbers of people can interact in the world at the same time).  Unlike many massive multiplayer online games, Runescape allows players to choose the tasks they wish to perform...players do not work towards a common goal.  Players can build and change the landscape in Runescape and communicate with other players thus making this a highly interactive world.  Runescape is set in a medieval world that operates much like a feudalistic society.  Players can find a landlord, and for a small fee, build a home.  Runescape has an economy based on trade and commerce...players can earn money by working or by stealing.  They can then spend their money on products at the General Store or the Grand Exchange.  Players can also participate individually or with their clans in a variety of quests that will award them with money or skills needed to continue in the game.  Finally, avatars can interact and even possess emotions that can be used to convey a players feelings...like happens with people in the real world.

Storyline

Runescape is set in Gielinor, a fantasy world with many elements from medieval Europe.  Gielinor was once a popular battleground for numerous "Gods"...much like in Greek mythology.  One powerful God, Guthix, banished all other Gods and left Gielinor in control of the long-suffering humans.  Although humans gained control, many magical creatures still inhabit the world of Runescape.  "Runes", stones that possess magical powers also became available to humans, thus giving them the power to use magic.  Humans (or avatars) can transport from place to place in this magical world through portals, and can interact with both avatars and non-player controlled characters throughout Runescape.  Players can interact on a variey of levels:  trading for goods, challenges and quests, and they can request assistance in skills mastery.  Runescape has a chat feature where players can chat with anyone or a private chat feature where you can only chat with members of your clan.  Below are screen shots of different elements of Runescape.  I have also included a link to a video that explains how to get started playing Runescape by establishing your avatar.
Let's play: Runescape! Episode 1: Making Your Character

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many strengths of Runescape that will support learning skills necessary in the 21st century.  The chat feature allows players to communicate with other players all over the world.  Runescape offers both paid or free membership (paid members have access to more features).  The graphics are good and the scenery is representative of the time period the game portrays.  Cooperation and collaboration with clan members is important in a players progress, and clans can be created with people you know.  Weaknesses include the following:  Runescape is a MASSIVE world.  I had a difficult time navigating through all the features and elements.  Movement of the avatars was difficult.  There is some "fantasy violence"...clans versus clans...but the violence is not bloody and gory.  To really learn Runescape, you would have to be willing to devote a lot of time to it.  If I could ADD or CHANGE anything about this game, I would try to regulate some of the violence. This is definitely not a game for younger children.  Runescape could only be used in my classroom if it provided some filtering options...like teacher controlled chat and worlds that existed only for students (not for the world at large). 

Educational Ideas

Runescape can be used educationally in a variety of ways.  Whether students are investigating Feudalism and trade based economies in Social Studies or studying mythology or fantasy genres of literature in Language Arts, Runescape could be a valuable asset.  Players also have to manage their own money and make wise consumer decisions therefore supporting elements of the math curriculum.
Runescape can also assist students in the acquisition of important 21st century skills.  Players have to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate to succeed in challenges and complete quests.  Clan membership is encouraged, and members can be from all over the world.  Critical thinking must be employed to solve problems and decision making is necessary to survival in Runescape.  Players are allowed to build and change the environment which lends itself to the natural creativity children possess.

Resources

www.runescape.com
http://runescape.wikia.com/wiki/history
www.youtube.com
By:  Melissa Gibson