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While most Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games tend to have an intrinsic social function to them, some titles are developed specifically with a social focus. These games may include numerous other gameplay elements, such as Player vs. Player (PvP) combat and dungeons, but include different tools and features that encourage socializing. A social MMO is often intended for people who enjoy talking to others and sharing in a group experience within an online, virtual world. Many of the assets within the game are typically designed to reward players who engage in socializing, such as bonuses for grouping together and access to items available only through social interaction.
The major design principle in a social MMO is a focus on interaction between players within the game. While MMOs in general are fairly social in nature, since they are multiplayer games that allow numerous people to exist within the same game world, certain titles focus even more on this aspect. Everything within a social MMO is likely to be designed to reinforce and support socializing within the game, providing players with a world that they can use to talk to others and interact. These games often include animations referred to as "emotes" which include actions like "dance" or "hug," allowing players to express certain things more quickly.
Other common elements of game design may be found in a social MMO, though there is typically a focus on interaction between players in them. For example, exploring "dungeons" or similar areas is a common gameplay element within these types of games. In a social MMO, however, players might be rewarded for grouping together for these areas, often through special bonuses or rewards based on people playing together repeatedly over time. Some games can have a system in place through which players earn points based on social interactions that can be used to purchase special items in game.
A great deal of focus in a social MMO is often placed upon the look of the characters that players use within the game. Numerous features and options may be available to customize appearances, including the way in which a character is initially created and additional features later on. The clothing and other "gear" used by players can be just as much about unique appearances and social indicators as they are about bonuses within the game. The developers of a social MMO can set certain outfits and aesthetic styles aside to reward players who engage in extensive cooperation, allowing characters to look their best after working with others.
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