Zap! Bam! Pow! How MMO Comics Enhance the Gaming Experience

By Jeff Francis
How mmo comics enhance gaming

Most people associate comic books with superheroes, and it is true that comics are synonymous with the likes of Superman and Batman. Yet comics have been used for much more than masked vigilantes fighting crime. Individuals in the past have used the medium to highlight historical events or advocate for certain social issues. Lately, there has been an increasing connection between comics and mmorpg games. A number of online games have branched out by transplanting their worlds into the pages of a comic book, and we think that this is a very cool thing. It's time to head down to our favorite hobby shop and discuss how mmo comics enhance the gaming experience.

Warframe comic

The reality is that mmo comics are not necessarily new, but they have been picking up steam lately. World of Warcraft had a comic book series back in the late 2000s, and now other games have picked up the gauntlet. The latest entry into the four-color world of mmo comics is Warframe. The free shooter has partnered with Top Cow to publish a series of comics. In the official announcement, one of the benefits of mmo comics was revealed. The announcement states, "The narrative hinges on the lone Warframe, Excalibur, who is determined to protect a blinded young girl, the last survivor of a recently destroyed village on Earth. Seasoned Tenno may even find hints to future game updates in the series not yet revealed in the Warframe universe." It's the last line about players picking up clues about upcoming content that's our focus. The use of mmo comics is a great way to build anticipation on new content and potential features for an online game, and the discovery of such information makes the reader (and gamer) feel even more connected to the game itself. Plus, it always feels good to be in on the scoop. Comics can show the potential benefits and details of upcoming features and content in a novel way. Even better is seeing content laid out in the pages of an mmo comic is a lot cooler than just reading some patch notes.

One of the main ways that mmo comics can enhance gameplay is to forge an emotional connection between the reader and the game itself. This is also hinted in the Warframe announcement above as players will empathize with the blinded young girl as she seeks to survive. Another example of this is the World of Tanks comic written by industry legend Garth Ennis (who wrote Hellblazer and Preacher). It's one thing to command an essentially faceless tank on the virtual battlefield, but it's something entirely different to follow the story of an inexperienced British tank crew in World War II as they're being hunted by a hardened German panzer unit. In this case, the mmo comics places a human face upon the experience of playing the online game. Situations and characters found in mmo comics allow the reader to place themselves into the game's world and feel a connection to what's going on. This connection that the reader has with the comic does carry over to the game.

This emotional connection also carries over to the specific characters found within the game. One of the great aspects of mmo comics is that players can learn a lot more about the characters that they love to play as. Using comics in this manner is really beneficial to shooters and moba games as they are chock full of unique individuals. The problem is that only part of their personality comes through within the game. One example is League of Legends that published an mmo comic featuring the incredibly humble Poppy as she sought to find the true hero of Demacia. The comic revealed, even though Poppy was unaware of this, that she was the actual hero she had been looking for. A more recent example is when Blizzard released an Overwatch comic featuring the popular Tracer and revealing her sexual orientation. Suddenly, Tracer became much more real, and something that many people could identify with, due to just a few panels within an mmo comic published online. Comics are a great way to flesh out the various individuals found in online games, which enhances the gameplay experience whenever the player logs into the mmo. Through the use of mmo comics, players actually care a lot more about their favorite characters through the stories that are told.

Another facet of how mmo comics can enhance the gameplay experience is by diving deeper into the game's lore and setting, which will vastly increase the immersion factor. The best mmo games feature a deep foundation and story, but such features can be obscured due to the player focusing on quests and trying to level up. Comics allow the game's world to be examined in a more leisurely fashion, and certain components of a setting can be more fully explored. What was just some background flavor text for an in-game quest could become the focus of an mmo comic book narrative. For example, a quest to find the remains of some missing, and presumed deceased, scouts could be expanded via mmo comics into the story of how the scouts were ambushed and valiantly fought to hold a vastly superior force at bay in order to allow the nearby villagers to safely escape. Suddenly, what was once just a throwaway quest becomes a poignant slice of lore for the player as the immersion factors increases exponentially.

World of Tanks comic

Lastly, mmo comics can enhance the gaming experience by putting the online rpg in front of new eyeballs. Just because someone reads comic books does not mean that they automatically play online games, and even if they did, they might not be playing the mmo that the comic is about. Yet a comic based upon an online game could entice the reader into trying out the game in the first place if they like what they're reading. Greater exposure to the online product is never a bad thing.

Overall, mmo comics can enhance the gaming experience in quite a few ways. They make more people aware of the game, and the format of an mmo comic allows for the setting to be more fully explored. Readers can forge an emotional connection to the game and its characters through the stories that are told. Comics allow writers and developers to open up the game's world without worrying about the pesky technical details that accompany an in-game expansion, such as class balance or the need to continue the current narrative. There's freedom to showcase individual aspects of the game through the medium of comics, and it's easy to create and publish them in this digital age. What games or characters would you like to see more of in mmo comics? Let us know in the comments below.


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