Anyone who's been gravitating around MMO*, MUDs, MUSHes long enough has come to hate the MMOG/MMORPG acronyms with a passion, for a number of all very good reasons:
- Massive(ly) Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games is not a mouthful, it's the after-action of competitive eating (think what comes just after a bulimia attack).
- The Massive(ly) is an abomination to grammar, and we look retarded enough spending our lives playing games way past our prime as it is.
- The whole Game thing irks bearded academics and self-important hiveminds alike, not such a bad thing in itself, but kind of gets in the way of level-headed debate.
- Also, everybody thinks of WoW when you invoke MMO* (or Everquest, back last century) which further skews the discussion when you're talking about POWs-without-elves.
Persistent Online Worlds is self-explanatory, and while the multiplayer angle is only implicit, it's also obvious from a craft/business perspective: there's little benefit in creating a persistent universe on the intarwebs if it's not to share the experience, and the more the merrier.
R-POW encompass the games, but also social/business experimental worlds such as Second Life, as long as the users are expected to enter and stay in the world on their own volition and for the purpose of entertainment/fun/recreation. This remains true even if the experience actually sucks goats, is a painful grindfest, and a fraction of the population really aims at making a buck by farming gold, and is not there for fun and giggles.
E-POW (pronounced Hippo, obviously), are Educational, and can include many forms of Serious Games, such as those meant to raise awareness about political or social issues, teach history to kids and whatnot, as long as they fit the POW part of the bill and aren't just a Civ-like edutainment tool.
T-POW (teapot, pronounced Colbert-style), are Training POWs, typically military or specialty simulations meant to teach and hone practical skills (as opposed to support general education/information/debate on select issues). They can also include simulations designed to help businesses evaluate employees or build team spirit. Generally speaking, they differ from E-POW by being purposefully designed for a select audience and heavily goal-oriented.
With that out of the way, expect to see me maliciously sparkle future articles with both *-POW and MMO*, for variety's sake…